Weight loss is influenced by several factors including diet and exercise. Most people believe that dieting contributes significantly to weight loss, but is this true? Let’s dive in!
Weight Loss and Dieting
Losing weight is a primary concern for most people and one of the most recommended means of doing so is dietary modifications. But can adjusting your diet really help you lose weight? The long and short answer is yes. However, it is important to understand how diet impacts weight loss.
Weight loss is driven by a basic principle which is to consume fewer calories than you burn. This is called creating a calorie deficit which compels the body to utilize stored fat for energy, leading to a reduction in body weight. Dieting combined with exercise is the most effective way to create a calorie deficit. However, diet alone can have a significant impact on your weight loss goals.
Factors that Affect Dieting
1. Food Type
The type of foods you consume can affect your body’s metabolism. Spicy foods for instance can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories. On the other hand, foods that are rich in sugar can slow down your metabolism and delay weight loss.
Another important factor that contributes to dieting is the timing of your meals. Eating small-sized meals all day long can help boost metabolism and prevent overeating. In contrast, skipping meals or eating large meals at a time can negatively affect your body’s metabolic rate.
3. Dieting Strategies for Weight Loss
There are several dieting strategies you can adopt to lose weight. Remember, your primary goal should be eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain a healthy and optimum weight.
But how many calories should you eat to lose weight? This answer is dependent on several genetic factors including sex, height and weight. As such, there is no common determining factor to measure optimum calorie intake as dieting for weight loss varies from person to person.
Nonetheless, there are general guidelines that can help you gauge your calorie consumption per your “specific” body needs.
4. Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet
One popular approach to dieting is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. A low-carb diet (as it is commonly called) limits the intake of foods rich in carbohydrates to about 50-150 grams daily while prioritizing foods that are high in protein and fibre.
Researchers have proven this diet type to be effective stating that protein is more filling than carbohydrates and helps preserve muscle mass. when on this diet, it is important to choose high-quality sources of protein such as lean fish, meats and legumes rather than high-fat dairy products or processed meats.
5. Low-fat, High-fiber Diet
This is another effective weight loss strategy with proven results. A Low-fat, high-fibre diet targets whole, unprocessed foods that are chock full of fibre such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The diet eliminates or minimizes high-fat meals. Foods in this category feature low calories and plenty of nutrients and are quite satiating.
6. Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic diets minimize carb intake to the lowest numbers. People on ketogenic diets consume minuscule amounts of carbs, about 50 grams daily. Minimal consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates can stimulate ketogenesis, a process where the body utilizes fat as the primary energy source.
7. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is another popular weight loss diet-specific strategy that has been making the rounds. As the name suggests, it means limiting food consumption to a designated period to reduce overall calorie intake and promote diet sustainability.
While the efficacy of these weight loss strategies is largely uncontested, most health experts recommend a much more gradual approach to weight loss — that is, to gradually reduce your calorie intake and consume nutrient-rich foods that are full of fibre and protein. This approach will improve your overall health and alleviate some of the negative side effects associated with dieting.
8. Dieting and Exercise
There is no denying the fact that you can lose weight by simply making dietary modifications alone. However, research has shown that the most effective weight loss strategy is calorie reduction combined with physical activity.
Exercise supports calorie reduction by helping to burn additional calories. For weight loss, cardio activities like running, cycling and swimming are often recommended over resistance exercises because they burn more calories by the minute.
However, you can do both cardio and resistance exercises for optimum results. Performing resistance exercises regularly increases muscle mass which aids fat loss as muscles burn more calories than fat tissues.
So if you are looking to lose weight, consider exercising alongside your diet. You can enrol at a gym, hire a house service fitness trainer or perform simple exercises at home with exercise machines or follow a fitness program.
How to Adjust your Eating Habits for Weight Loss
Dieting isn’t a walk in the park! It takes effort and a strong will to commit to a weight-loss-targeted diet. Saying no to meals you enjoy and eating those you necessarily don’t like can be exasperating.
However, you can make the most of your weight loss journey and enjoy every bit of the dietary experience by adopting some healthy eating habits.
1. Embrace Healthy Eating
Make it a point to include wholesome foods and ingredients at every meal. Incorporate healthy cooking methods and use fresh and wholesome ingredients to prepare your meals. You can subscribe to the “80/20 rule” (healthy eating and healthy ingredients 80% of the time) or the “ Sundays Off rule” ( healthy eating every day but Sunday).
On your days or time off, you can indulge in junk foods or meals you consider unhealthy for your weight loss goals. Just make sure to stay on track so you don’t jeopardize weeks or months of hard work.
2. Measure your Meals and Snacks
Calorie reduction is all about measurement! You need to calculate the number of calories you are consuming to maintain a calorie deficit. And this calculation begins with weighing your meals and snacks. It is difficult to accurately gauge your portions by merely looking at the food on your plate, cup or package. Hence, leverage a scale or a measuring cup to weigh your meals and ensure accountability.
You should also make a habit of noting the nutritional details on food labels especially those on processed foods and meals. If your daily calorie intake for weight loss is 1500 calories, measure your raw and cooked meals so you won’t exceed the stipulated calorie count or undereat! And if you have a house service maid or chef that cooks for you, give them instructions to work with.
3. Keep a Food Journal
Multiple studies have shown that keeping a food journal is beneficial to weight loss. Even if you are not pro-weight loss, documenting the foods you consume and how you eat them can help you track and eliminate unhealthy eating habits. A food diary gives a comprehensive and realistic overview of your food consumption and highlights your attitude toward meals.
It can help you develop a healthy relationship with food. For a realistic picture, write down what you eat for a week. Be honest and transparent when jotting down the details. If you are dieting, record the days you stuck to your diet and days you overindulged or erred, so you can trace a pattern and make necessary adjustments. Your food diary will help you stay accountable while promoting healthy eating habits.
4. Don’t Cut Out Whole Food Groups
While health experts and nutritionists maintain that high-carb foods are detrimental to a weight loss diet, you shouldn’t completely eliminate carbs from your diet. Understand that calorie reduction is all about portions and measurements. As long as you consume high-carb meals less frequently, you can still maintain a calorie deficit. For example, the 80/20 rule allows diet-centred meal consumption 80% of the time and non-diet meal consumption 20% of the time.
This means you can consume your greens, whole grains, and lean proteins for a good part of the day (or whatever time frame you choose) and take sugar-rich desserts or high-carb foods for a minimal time frame. If you eliminate whole food groups in the name of weight loss, you may deprive your body of essential nutrients needed for optimal body function.
5. Prioritize Adequate Hydration
Sometimes, our mind mistakes a thirst signal for a hunger cue, and we end up consuming more calories than we need. Instead of rushing to eat when you think you are hungry, try taking water instead. Drink water and calorie-free drinks throughout the day to sustain your body’s hydration needs. Consume fewer sugary drinks, ice cream and other high-carb beverages so you won’t derail your progress for the sake of “hydration”. Drink water with your meals so you will attain satiety quicker and not crave a second or third serving.
The Bottom Line
Adjusting your diet can help you lose weight. However, you should stick to the principles of dieting as discussed in this article. Combine your diet with exercise for best results and prioritize calorie deficit and healthy eating and cooking methods rather than restrictive fad diets. Incorporate foods rich in protein and fibre into your diet and reduce the intake of high-fat and high-carb meals. Measure and weigh your meals and snacks and drink lots of water.
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