We all know them: the naturally slim and athletic guys and girls who seem to maintain their weight effortlessly. How do they do it? Here’s their secret…

Weight loss, fat loss and maintaining a healthy body weight is about much more than looking good. There are numerous benefits to reaching - and staying at - a lean body weight, including: reduced risk of lifestyle-related disease, lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, and balanced hormones.

But for some people, staying slim is an ongoing struggle. So, what can we learn from the naturally slim men and women in our lives?

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5 Things Naturally Slim People Do Every Day

1. Don’t Snack

Lean people tend not to snack, despite what the bodybuilding community and their 6-7 mini meals a day would have you believe. There is no evidence that eating more regularly raises the metabolism or burns more body fat. 3-4 meals per day seems optimal for hunger, satiety (feeling full), and practicality.

Try this: Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, with one snack if you need it. Leave gaps between your meals, without snacking, to allow yourself to feel hungry for your next meal.

2. Stop Eating Before They Are Full

Many of us are out of step with our bodies' natural hunger and satiety cues. Have you ever noticed how naturally slim people often leave food on their plates, take food home from restaurants, or turn down extras like the bread basket? They eat just as much as they need and no more.

Try this: Slow your eating down and tune into your fullness as you go. As soon as you feel “done”, stop eating.

3. Build Movement Into Daily Life

Everyday movement, like walking and being active, contributes more to weight management than your dedicated hour of exercise in the gym or at a workout class. Naturally slim people tend to walk a lot, be on the go, and use their bodies throughout the day.

Try this: Add more walking into your day, either in one longer walk or as 2-3 short walks. Start looking at housework, mowing the lawn, gardening and other chores as useful ways to stay trim for life.

4. Sleep Really Well

Sleep and weight management are strongly linked, with good quality sleep balancing the hormones responsible for hunger, cravings, food choices, fullness, mood and even fat loss. Naturally slim people tend to sleep well and manage stress.

Try this: Get to bed earlier, don’t take phone or tablet computer into the bedroom, make your bedroom dark and cool, and focus on getting better quality sleep as a weight management strategy.

5. Eat When They Are Hungry

Naturally slim people don’t tend to eat by the clock (“it’s 1pm, I should eat lunch”) or to a meal plan (”time for my 4pm snack!”) Instead, they are attuned to their body’s hunger signals, and usually wait until they feel hungry before they eat.

Try this: Ditch the structured meal plan and let yourself feel a little hungry before eating. 15-30 minutes of physical hunger before meals is just long enough to get back in tune with the signals your body is trying to give you.

Weight loss and maintenance is about more than dieting, controlling calorie intake, and going to the gym. Successful weight management comes down to the habits and lifestyle choices we make every day. The good news is that these are things we can all do, starting today.

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