What Diet Gear Should You Buy?
By 2017, the weight loss market is expected to be worth $361 billion dollars. That’s a lot of Thighmasters. But for all these gizmos and gadgets, which diet gear should you actually buy? For every piece of kit that actually helps people to lose weight, there are a million more that are simply languishing in the loft of shame, providing an amusing home for spiders.
So we wanted to pinpoint the truly essential weight loss equipment. These are the things that will actually help you lose weight and we’ve separated the must-haves, from the nice-to-haves and we’ve even thrown in a hitlist of the don’t-you-dares. Ready? Let’s get equipped.
A grater! What sort of high tech equipment list is this?! One that’s going to help you lose weight, that’s what. You might already have a grater but get a Microplane and you’ll love it forever. Why does it help? People believe they’re served nearly 50% more of a food when it’s shredded and you eat less – a cup of grated cheese contains 77 calories fewer than cubed.
A diet log
It doesn’t need to be fancy. You could write your diet log on the margin of old newspapers if you wish to. Just make it legible and organised so you can share it as and when you need to. If you want to go electronic look at some of the apps and websites that are available, such as MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. If you like it classic, get a page a day diary and stick it by your bed. At the end of each day, take two minutes to record what you ate, what exercise you did and any measurements you’ve taken.
They say that what’s measured is managed, so get a quality set of scales. You want scales that are accurate and that go up to your weight – Withings, Fitbit Aria and, our current favourites, Omron all do excellent models and the wifi scales will connect to your home system and update various apps. It’s a fairly pointless feature but it’s fun to have.
A water bottle
Getting plenty of water is proven to help you lose weight as it helps you feel fuller and staves off cravings. Choose a bottle you love and you’re more likely to use it and remember to bring it with you. Camelbak make great models and if you’re the forgetful type try a Hydracoach. Oh and chuck in some fruit or a green tea bag to give your water a bit of a boost.
A hand blender
Soups are brilliant for weight loss, they’re filling and you can cram as much veg into them as you like and when they’re liquidised they all taste more palatable. If you pick a smart version like the Blend Active then you’ll even be able to make the legendary green smoothies to start your day. Failing that a great model is the Kenwood kMix.
Ziplock Bags and Tupperware
File under: boring but essential. Get good strong Ziploc bags (you can reuse them so it’s not extravagant and they’re cheap on eBay) and a range of Tupperware pots. Bingo, you’ve now got a storage solution for all your cooking and lunch needs.
This is always one of the laughable cheats given to dieters – eat off a smaller plate and you’ll think you’re having a bigger portion! As if! Sadly, it really does work, so make like Partridge and get your own plate. Double your brilliance by getting one which reminds you of correct portion control, like this one – it’s better than pictures of faded Chinese pagodas innit.
Yes, you can get a number of commercially-available oil sprays, but then broadly speaking the oils taste like they’ve been extracted from unwilling passers-by. If you buy your own spray then you can fill it with any oil you choose. This is one we’ve used.
Pestle and Mortar
Get a pestle and mortar and you’ll be able to spice up your foods in no time. Herbs and spices are the way forward for non-bland, healthy food. If you’ve not grated nutmeg onto Brussels sprouts or roast mushrooms with cumin then you’ve not lived.
You’ll notice that we’ve mostly avoided exercise equipment on our essentials list. This is because you really don’t actually need much equipment at all to exercise. Somewhere to move around and your own body weight will see you right 90% of the time (unless you’re swimming. Or cycling. You get the point.)
However, the shoes on your feet are beyond vital. Do not stint. Spend big on trainers and go to a proper shop to get them fitted. You need a shop with a video treadmill so they can analyse what your feet are up to. Better trainer, fewer injuries – especially if you’ve got more weight to support.
Juicer – juicing and “detoxing” is in vogue at the moment, but you should see it as a part of a healthy lifestyle, not as the exclusive answer to your weight loss. Jason Vale’s recipe books are great (although don’t get caught by the quick weight loss answers which are not a good idea) and any of the Phillips juicers are worth a look. This is a model we’ve used – it’s a pain in the arse to clean but then they all, get used to it, or don’t juice!
A wearable fitness tracker – you get the sense that in a few years wearable trackers will be everything we hope they are today. The Basis watch is the closest we can come to an ideal spec because it does your heart rate as well as activity and sleep monitoring. However, it’s only available in the US and it’s still not working as well as we’d like. So, for now, the best thing to do is accept that until the tech moves on a few generations go for something simpler that works. The Vivofit from Garmin is brilliant for this – it’s basically a watch that nags you to move a bit and quantifies how much you do move. Plus it’s waterproof, syncs easily and the battery lasts an entire year.
This falls under nice-to-have largely because it costs a fair bit, but you have to say that the information it provides you with is really interesting, if only so you can become one of those people at dinner parties who emails the host in advance with a long list of how awkward you are. The York Food Scan test is £250 but it gives you a full run-down of any foods that disagree with you. It’s a useful way of making sure that you’re not carrying any particular allergies or intolerances that could interfere with your weight loss and health.
A heart rate monitor
There are various sweet spots on the heart rate scale which show you that you are in the perfect zone for burning fat, which is useful information if you want to make the most of your workout. That said the reason monitors aren’t essential is because you are a very good judge of how hard you are working. The Rate of Perceived Exertion – where you mark yourself on a scale of 1-10 as to how hard you’re working has been shown to be very accurate, and it can be tested using the Talk Test.
Body fat monitor
Scales are essential, body fat monitors would be too if they were even remotely accurate. The most scientific way of tracking your body fat is to jump in a bod pod and get measured, or book in for a DEXA scan, but these are a) costly and b) still not entirely accurate. That leaves us with the option of testing ourselves and accepting that some weeks your body fat may veer off by +/-10% and to use it as a very longitudinal test, rather than a week-to-week guide. These are reasonably-priced and easy to use.
The Hapi fork
To encourage you to eat mindfully, the Hapi Fork gives haptic feedback (i.e. it vibrates) if you’re shovelling it in faster than a steam train operative who’s late for the birth of his first child. You know what else works well? Just slowing down and saving yourself a whopping $99 (£58.36)
These, frankly hilarious, blue tint glasses are designed to make your food look so unappetising that it becomes unpalatable and, well, gross. The obvious fault is that you’re trying to lose weight sensibly, not develop a food aversion where you feel like you’re going to vomit at every meal.
Any gym equipment for your home
You don’t use it for a few days and suddenly it’s not an elliptical machine it’s the Coat Stand Of Guilt. Start off slow, go to a pay-as-you-go gym for a month or so and when you’ve acquired the habit, then you can buy the equipment.