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Tips for Long-Term Waist Loss

If you need to shrink your waist, don’t skip meals or go on a ‘crash diet’ that promises big reductions in a week. With short-term weight loss diets you will lose water and muscle tissue not fat, and if you skip meals or drastically cut back your food intake your body presses all its survival mode signals and starts hoarding every bit of fat it can.

Waist loss is never easy but, as we explained earlier, tummy fat is a bit easier to shed than hip and thigh fat. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind to help you trim down and shape up.

  • Change gradually. You are more likely to have long-term success if you lose waist slowly and make changes to your lifestyle that you can stick with.
  • Move more. But, build up your activity level bit by bit so you avoid injuries and have fun.

Tip: It took time for your waist to expand, so it will take time to shrink it. There are no quick fixes.

Long-term waist loss goals

Aiming to lose around 5–10% of your initial waist measurement over about 3 months and then keeping it off – is a healthy (and achievable) waist loss goal. How much you trim off your waistline will vary from week to week, but slow and easy steady losses are easier to keep off. Here are examples of realistic short- and long-term goals:

Short term goal (1–2 weeks) – Reduce your waist measurement by about 1–2cm

Long-term goal (12 weeks) – Reduce your waist measurement by 5–10 cm


How a low GI, higher protein diet can help you lose the waist and keep it off.

There is increasing scientific evidence that proves that the combination of a low GI, higher protein diet can help you lose the weight and prevent it from creeping back on.

The combination is effective in that both:

Reduce insulin levels

The effect of low GI foods on blood insulin levels is likely to be an important reason for their effectiveness in weight management. While insulin is the primary regulator of glucose metabolism it also plays a key role in fat metabolism. High insulin levels following high GI foods promote carbohydrate oxidation and fat storage. Persistently high insulin levels, as occur in people with insulin resistance, result in decreased expression of the rate limiting enzymes involved in fat oxidation and thereby alter the potential for fat burning. This is why people with insulin resistance often struggle to lose weight and accumulate fat – around the waist, in the liver (fatty liver), in the blood (high triglycerides) and inside muscle cells.

Facilitate greater fat loss

Several intervention studies indicate that low GI diets yield greater reductions in body weight, total fat mass and body mass index than high GI or conventional energy-restricted diets. In some cases they found that weight and body fat loss were over 50% greater in obese adults following a low GI, high protein diet compared to a conventional low fat approach.

Diets high in protein produce greater weight loss and fat loss than low-fat diets, and this difference is maintained over the long term. Diets where protein replaces some of the carbohydrate energy are also associated with greater loss of fat mass.

Promote satiety and delay hunger

The satiating effect of both low GI and higher protein foods is partly related to their slower rate of digestion and absorption. They stay in the gut longer and reach lower parts of the small intestine, triggering receptors that increase the secretion of satiety hormones making you feel fuller for longer.

Helps maintain weight loss

A great advantage of low GI diets is the value-added benefits they offer for long-term weight management and life-long health. Low GI diets bring about less of a fall in your metabolic rate during weight loss and along with the macronutrient composition of the diet are key factors in weight loss maintenance.

The Diabetes, Obesity and Genes study (DiOgenes) was designed to examine the effect of diets varying in protein and glycemic index on a number of health parameters during a period of weight maintenance. After an initial weight loss of ≥8%, participants were randomised to one of five ad libitum diets with either high or low glycemic index and protein content or a regular healthy diet as a control. During the 26 week weight maintenance period the low GI, higher protein diet was the most effective in maintaining weight loss. It also brought about favourable reductions in cardio vascular disease risk factors.

What’s more, it’s turning out to be the arm with the lowest drop out rate, suggesting that this type of diet might be the one that you can stick to in the long run as well.


The bottom line – keys for long term weight loss

Choose low GI carbs and a lean source of protein at every meal. A regular intake of low GI and protein-rich foods will stave off hunger and strengthen your resolve against temptation.

Snack smarter and reduce nutrient-poor energy dense indulgence foods. Choose low GI fruits, nuts and reduced-fat dairy and say ‘no thanks’ to high GI biscuits, crackers and other savoury snacks, confectionery, cordials and soft drinks.

Serve size is also important, as eating too much of any kind of food, even healthy choices, will most likely make you put on weight.

Mindful Eating. Eat slowly and enjoy your food. Think before you eat. Only eat when you are hungry, not stressed, upset or bored!

Include in your daily routine 30 minutes of planned exercise like walking, swimming or riding a bike, plus 30 minutes of ‘incidental’ activity like using the stairs instead of the lift.

For more information download the GI & Weight Management Fact Sheet. 

There is also a simple shopping list for you to take with you to the supermarket.


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