Sod the diet and lose weight anyway – here’s how

Who enjoys all that calorie counting? If you hate diets but love the idea of losing a bit of weight, these quick fixes might just help you shift a few pounds – or prevent you from putting on any more.

Get enough shut-eye. Research has shown that people who are sleep-deprived eat a lot more the next day than those who are well rested. In one study it was an average 600 calories more. Why? Quite simply, if you stay awake for longer, you’re more likely to have the munchies.

Down the dairy. A few studies have suggested that people who eat more dairy products when they’re trying to lose weight get slimmer faster. It might seem counterintuitive – and it’s far from proven that it works – but it’s thought that the higher levels of calcium and vitamin D play a part in regulating weight.

Go nuts. Nuts are high in calories but research consistently shows that nibbling helps fight the battle of the bulge. One US study of 12,000 people found that nut-eaters were slimmer than those who shunned them. The association between nuts and a healthier lifestyle probably has something to do with it…

Reach for the pepper. Science has shown that a substance in black pepper, piperine, reduces fat levels in the bloodstream. And there’s good news for lovers of chili peppers, potentially: a small study found that people who ate lots of the spice – especially if they didn’t normally eat it – had a decreased appetite. They also burned more calories, thanks, it seems, to pepper’s ability to increase core body temperature.

Chill out. Stress makes you fat – something to do with your body releasing the hormone cortisol, which makes you want to eat more. The obvious solution, then, is to try to channel your stress. Easier said than done, we know, but going for a swim, for example, makes you feel less tense and more energised, and might even help you lose a few calories.

Shrink your plate. We don’t just mean put less food on it – though that’s a fine idea too – but serve your meal on a smaller dish. It will look like more, but you will be eating a reduced portion containing fewer calories.

Sniff an apple. This is wacky stuff but worth a try: in one experiment, more than 3,000 overweight people – mostly women – who were asked to sniff an apple, banana or vanilla when they were hungry lost 5lb a month on average.