Question of the Week: When Weight Loss is "Easy"
Today we continue answering the most sought after question – How can someone lose weight?
During part 1 – I said that the answer can either be really easy – all about facts and figures or extremely complicated and multifactorial.
No one wants to believe that it is going to be a tough and difficult journey for them – most people wish it would happen yesterday already. They wish they would wake up one day and have their most ideal body shape and size and automatically feel super confident in their skin.
(Spoiler Alert – you can achieve these things and not lose a single Kg on the scale! – but that’s a discussion for another day…)
So today we can discuss the answer that most people wish to hear – How can we lose weight – the easy answer: it’s all about the routine, the variety and the portions of food:
- Timing of meals:
During my lockdown series (found on the blog and on Instagram and Facebook) – I spoke about the importance of having a consistent and regular eating routine. This is the first step to eating healthy and achieving a, long term, healthy weight.
There are lots of discussions around intermittent fasting and many people believe in skipping of meals, however this is one of the unhealthiest options for the body, long term and can be very unsustainable.
The metabolism (in a nutshell) is the rate at which your organs need and use energy. This energy comes from the food that we eat on a daily basis. So if someone has a consistent meal routine, for a long time, then the organs rely on a consistent input of energy and they can work optimally – people have named this – having a “fast metabolism”. These people feel hungry at regular intervals – and they refuel at regular intervals by eating consistently.
When people try various different diets – it distorts this meal routine and the organs habitual reliance on this energy input. Therefore the organs need to find an alternative source of fuel, away from the fuel that we eat, and that comes from internal (bodily) fuel stores. (BUT – Spoiler Alert: this does not mean that the body uses ‘fat reserves’! In a starvation state, the body usually breakdown muscle and fat from the liver – not the abdominal fat that is so widely advertised.) This causes the metabolism to “slow down”, and some people notice that they do not feel hungry nor, feel full. The body was not designed to live off of its internal fuel stores, long term. Therefore by eating regularly i.e. within 1 hour of waking up, and then eating every 2-3 hours afterwards, it will allow the body to notice hunger and fullness cues.
- Energy intake/ portion size:
The metabolism also gives us an ideal of how much fuel/ energy each organ needs in order to function. This is usually expressed as a numerical value in kCal or kJ.
If someone has to eat more energy than their organs need – this would result in weight gain. This is because each of the organs can only use a certain amount of fuel and the rest is stored – usually in the form of fat. Out of the fuel/ energy options – Carbohydrates are generally used by organs first, Protein is used secondly and then lastly, Fat is used – therefore any excess energy is stored in the form of (leftover) fat.
If someone has to eat too little energy – less than the minimum amount of fuel that the organs need to work optimally – then the organs will break down muscle and store extra body fat, which also results in long term weight gain. This is why many people notice rapid weight loss, however it is not weight loss from fat, but rather weight loss from muscle breakdown. That is why it always results in rapid weight gain.
If someone has to eat less energy than the current metabolism, but not less than the minimum amount – it will result in body fat loss while maintaining, or building, muscle mass. This also results in toning up – i.e. losing body fat % and losing centimetres around the midsection/ waist.
- Food Groups:
Carbohydrates are generally used by your organs first and therefore are one of the most important sources of fuel. This means that you need to ensure that your organs receive a certain amount of carbohydrates from the diet. By eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, it will results in increase hunger, carbohydrate cravings and decrease in muscle and increase in stored fat. Therefore it is important to ensure that your main meals, such as breakfast, lunch and supper contain a certain portion size of carbohydrates in the form of fibre filled grains.
All food groups provide valuable nutrients and therefore need to be represented in the diet. If you are uncertain of portion sizes, a dietician can provide you with insights into healthy portion sizes to achieve weight goals.
- Meal plans:
Meal plans are guides, given by a dietician, that will allow you to learn about the importance of regular and balanced meals, and give you confidence to make healthy food choices.
Healthy Meal Plans:
– Provides you with insights into portion sizes and food alternatives
– Should be flexible and give you a wide range of options
– Always allow you to use your hunger and fullness as cues
– Be based on the food items that you are comfortable with i.e. bread
– Should be culturally comfortable and financially appropriate
Unhealthy Meal plans:
– Are restrictive with lists of foods to avoid or cut out
– Are too rigid by not giving you options to choose from
– Give recommendations of food items that are foreign or called “super” or “superior” e.g. quinoa if you are not used to it or comfortable with it
– Are filled with diet products to buy