Lose Weight by Eating Right; An Introduction
With a world of information at our fingertips, the first place we might go for help to lose weight is online.
Simply type weight loss in your search bar and you’ll be delivered millions of sources in a matter of seconds. The trouble is, that it’s difficult to determine which of these sources to trust, and which of these weight loss methods will work best for you and your body type. In the article below, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of weight loss from a nutrition perspective, and help to overcome the notion that a fast metabolism diet is all you need to reach your goals.
Is nutrition really that important for weight loss?
One of the most important fundamentals for losing weight is to manage what you put on your plate.
It’s not about eating boring salad leaves and bland vegetables for days on end; this is a strategy that is sure to leave you not only sick of the food you’re eating, but so unsatisfied with your meals that you feel hungry all the time and are therefore far less likely to stick to this type of restrictive eating plan and have difficulty achieving your weight loss goals.
You may even have send information about how effective a fast metabolism diet can be, and so you’re trying to eat as many of these foods as possible. The truth is, no one food can actually boost your metabolism. Eating enough of the right types of foods, however, can, as can increasing your metabolic rate through exercise.
For the purpose of what we’re going to explain here, we’ll stick to the nutrition approaches for weight loss.
5 evidence-based weight loss strategies that work
Practice intermittent fasting1
Fasting allows your body to regulate it’s insulin levels better, which helps with blood sugar balance and optimizes the use of food as fuel, particularly those containing carbohydrates. Fasting also helps to improve growth hormone production, which is essential for the maintenance of a healthy body composition.
You don’t have to do 16, 18 or even 24 hour fasts if you’re not used to fasting. Even starting with a 12 hour overnight fast can be an effective strategy for weight loss. For example, if you finish your evening meal at 8 p.m., you would only have breakfast at 8 a.m. the next morning.
Once you’re comfortable fasting for 12 hours overnight, you can try to increase the time you go without food in increments. It is however, important to remember that your calorie goals need to be met, otherwise it could have a detrimental effect on your metabolic rate.
Put more focus on protein2
While you don’t have to eat as much protein as a bodybuilder at each meal, having at least one source of lean protein is optimal.
That’s because protein is essential for satiety, i.e., it helps you to stay fuller for longer, and it is also the one macronutrient that helps you to build and maintain lean body mass.
At each meal, consider adding:
- Chicken breast
- Turkey slices
- Greek yogurt
If you don’t have a readily available source of protein, add a scoop of whey or plant-based protein powder to water or milk and drink it alongside your meal.
Typically, you would want to achieve a portion of around 20-40g of protein at each meal, which is around 100-180g of any lean protein source such as those from the list above.
Thirst can be confused with hunger and so when we’re actually thirsty we might seek out food. If you drink enough water throughout the day, you’re less likely to feel the need to snack between meals, which can have a positive effect on your weight loss efforts.
2-3 liters a day is optimal, which can be from sources such as pure water or herbal teas.
Reduce your intake of carbs4
Consuming too many carbohydrates over time can lead to weight gain. Carbohydrates that are not used as an energy source are converted to fats and stored by the body. Eating just one smaller serving of complex carbs at each meal may allow the body to better utilize it as a fuel source.
A serving of carbohydrates ranges from 20-30g of net carbs and is around 1-2 cupped handfuls of cooked carbs per meal depending on your individual requirements. Those doing less activity may need the lower ended of the scale, while those who are a little more active may do well with the higher end of the scale.
The types of carbohydrates you choose also matters. Refined and ‘white’ carbohydrates will have a higher net value of carbohydrates per portion. Instead of white rice, pasta and bread, add whole wheat or whole grain and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and potato to meals to reduce the blood-sugar spiking portion of carbohydrates you have at that meal.
Control your portions5
Following on from the point about carbs above, portion control overall is a key strategy for weight loss. Eating too much means your calorie intake outweighs the number of calories you burn, which leads to weight gain.
At each meal, consider the following portion sizes:
- 2-3 cups of vegetables
- 1 serving of carbs as explained above
- 1 serving of protein, which ranges from 100-180g
- 1 serving of fat, which is typically 2 tablespoons worth
Is weight loss really that simple?
Weight loss doesn’t have to involve complex strategies, serious restriction or using weight loss supplements. Eat wholesome foods that are well balanced and nourish your body to encourage it to let go of the additional stores it had held onto.
Weight loss is about far more than boosting your metabolism with food. A fast metabolism diet may sound like the answer you’ve been looking for, but eating wholesome, balanced nutrition that tastes good and keeps you full is a far more sustainable and better approach to long-term weight loss and maintenance.
- Harris L, Hamilton S, Azevedo LB, Olajide J, De Brún C, Waller G, Whittaker V, Sharp T, Lean M, Hankey C, Ells L. Intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2018 Feb;16(2):507-547.
- Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in 'breakfast-skipping' adolescents. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010;34(7):1125-1133.
- McKiernan F, Hollis JH, McCabe GP, Mattes RD. Thirst-drinking, hunger-eating; tight coupling?. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(3):486-490.
- Roberts, S. High-glycemic Index Foods, Hunger, and Obesity: Is There a Connection? Nutrition Reviews. 2009. 58(6):163-169.
- Clark A, Franklin J, Pratt I, McGrice M. Overweight and obesity - use of portion control in management. Aust Fam Physician. 2010 Jun;39(6):407-11.