The Secret to Eating for Weight Loss
With such busy lifestyles, weight loss through diet and nutrition often sits on the back burner for many of us. However, losing weight sits at the top of most people's list of things they want to accomplish. With that in mind and armed with the understanding the importance of juggling responsibilities (work, family, friends and school), I set out to make weight loss through diet and nutrition a little less complicated.Before I jump in though, it is important to acknowledge when you are planning a weight loss regimen through your eating habits that this is your lifestyle, not a quick fix! Quick fixes bombard the nutrition world with fad diets and calorie restrictions that require doctor supervision. However, for those seeking to shed around 15% or less body weight and keep it off, a lifestyle plan is the best approach!
Most people looking to lose weight desire to increase their fruit and vegetable intake while decreasing other food groups, like sweets and processed foods. Fruits and vegetables are full of insoluble fibers that help with metabolism (the soluble fibers that help make us feel full quicker) and many vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Thus, including these essential foods are a great addition to your weight loss lifestyle plan. However, because of their high fiber content, it is important to gradually introduce fruits, vegetables and other high fiber foods to your diet so not to shock the body. Think of high school graduation: there were steps or grades you had to take before you were able to reap what you sowed. This is much of the case when changing your food plan!
Ensuring that you have the proper amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is critical to making sure your body functions to the best of its ability. Often times when seeking to lose weight, we desire not only to feel lighter and healthier but more notably, tohave more energy! Many fad diets restrict one or more of these macronutrients. Each macronutrient, however, plays a vital roll in energy, enables proper muscle and brain function, and aids in the regulation of body tissue, organs, and nerves - all of which are critical to live healthily. It is recommended that the average adult consume 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fats and 10-35% from protein. The exact recommended intake of each can vary dependent on your overall health, activity levels, weight loss goals, age, etc. but there is a happy balance for everyone!
CONTROL YOUR PORTIONS
The size of your meals is a biggie in a world surrounded by food that is not only convenient but also very tempting to the taste buds! Despite the access to such foods, we know that we cannot overindulge our taste buds and lose weight. So keeping in mind the balance of macronutrients, we can use tools like My Plate as a model to fill our own plates with just the right amount of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. However, on those days that your taste buds are lingering out of control, remember to treat yourself, but in moderation. As I often tell myself, it's okay to have a small cookie but I should most certainly avoid eating half of the bag!
UNDERSTAND YOUR CALORIES
Understanding your calorie consumption per day is vital to success with weight loss. Apps like myfitnesspal can help you estimate your appropriate caloric intake daily based on your age, height, weight, activity levels, and wellness goals.An example: Sam is sedentary and wishes to lose about 1lb a week through his diet to reach his weight loss goal in a healthy manner. Currently, Sam can consume 1,750 calories to maintain his present weight. In order to lose 1lb by the end of the week, Sam will need to cut 500 calories out of his food plan daily to lose 3,500 calories or 1lb of fat by the end of his week. A healthy weight loss for the average adult is about 1/2 - 2lbs of fat per week. I am certainly not saying to become an obsessive calorie counter, but in the beggining, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with what the appropriate amount of calories look like for the number you wish to see on the scale!
CREATE A MEAL PLAN
Lastly, drawing out you meal plan can help from straying from the goal you have in mind. There are a lot of tips and tricks out there that can improve weight loss results, from eating 4-6 smaller meals a day to avoiding eating after 7pm. Most importantly though, you have to keep in mind that you are busy with LIFE, and it is up to you to figure out what works best for us. Drawing out a daily meal plan on paper, whether its as simple as the times of days you should eat your meals or as detailed as what you plan to eat that day, will help your weight loss goal remain a priority in your busy life. Below I have an example Lifestyle plan that I often follow for myself.
(Exercise and 1500-calorie Meal Plan)
6:30 am - Run or Cycle7:30 am - Breakfast
- 300 calories -2 Eggs, Slice of Turkey bacon, 1/2 slice of toast and mixed fruit
10:00 am - Snack
- 150 calories-String Cheese and 1/2 of a large apple
1:00 pm - Lunch
- 400 calories - Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad with cucumbers, peppers, olives, tomato and feta cheese
4:00 pm - Snack
- 150 calories-Protein Shake
5:30 pm - Lift Weights or pick up kids7:30 pm -Dinner
- 400 calories-Salmon Pillaf with onion, carrots, peas and mushrooms