Losing weight and most importantly maintaining it is highly dependent on your diet. Living in the gym will not shred those pounds if you keep having burgers and don’t control what you eat. However, the goal is not to go for a ‘lose 30 lbs in 2 hours’ type of diet, but to stick to healthy nutrition in the long-run.
Simply follow this nutritional guideline and begin your weight loss journey!
One of the biggest fitness myths is that you can eat whatever you want if you exercise enough. Sorry to break the news, but this is not true. When it comes to sustainable weight loss, surely physical activity is important too, but your diet has a way bigger role.
The other common mistake is going for these super-fast diet plans that promise you dropping 3 sizes in 3 weeks in exchange for not eating anything. I am not saying that you won’t lose weight quickly with them, but you’ll definitely gain back every pound even faster.
Therefore, the key lies in long-term diet changes. It’s not an easy thing to do, but definitely worth it for better and more sustainable results.
Following these nutrition tips will help in putting your diet on the right track for losing weight. After a while, you’ll get used to every single change, it won’t be a struggle anymore and your entire lifestyle will improve for good!
We also advise tracking and monitoring your nutrition to hold yourself more accountable for your decisions. Find out how by visiting The Ultimate Tracking Guide.
1. Decrease In Food And Beverage Calories
Losing weight is only possible if your calories out exceed your calories in, which is a negative energy balance. If your energy balance, however, is positive that means you consume more than your actual calorie needs. The excess nutrient intake will, therefore, be stored in your body causing a body mass increase.
This increase can be both in fat mass or lean mass. However, in order to convert excess nutrients into lean mass, you have to stimulate protein gain through exercising. And of course, pay attention to where those calories come from. This is basically what happens when one starts bulking.
But, since we’d like to lose weight here, let’s turn back to the original approach. More calories in than out will result in weight gain. So if you consume more than what you burn, you should really forget about dropping anything, but a new profile picture in your bikinis.
People often claim to lead a healthy lifestyle, however, cravings can sometimes get the better of us and if you give into these cravings, you may end up going over calorific maintenance. It is important to understand why you have these cravings to stop them.
However, you don’t have to cut drastically everything from your diet to make it work. The key is to make changes that you can consistently keep. Here are few tricks that can help reducing calories and sticking to it.
- Use smaller plates and decrease portion sizes. Here’s our Guide to Mindful Eating that can help in this!
- Don’t wait with eating until you’re hungry. Hunger can easily make us overeat.
- Skip desserts. You have no idea how many extra calories you’re taking in with just a slice of cake.
- Eat slowly. Eating Behaviour’s research has found that if you eat fast, you’re less likely to feel full at the end of the meal. This can lead to eating more and increasing your calorie intake.
- Ditch soda and drink water. One of the things that can ruin your diet the most easily is sugary drinks.
2. Limit Alcohol
Alcohol is a huge temptation, at least for most of us… And unfortunately, as most of these temptations, it’s not low in calories either. This is why feeling puffy after a long festival season is not really a surprise.
The calories in most alcoholic drinks are very concentrated. This can easily result in higher calorie intake without even noticing it than what we would normally consume. What’s more, alcohol is also likely to increase hunger, which is why we usually end up snacking in a bar even though, we’d already finished dinner.
But let’s face it, we’re just at the first few days of summer, no one’s going to quit drinking now. However, you can swap the highest calorie, most sugary drinks to some of their lower calorie alternatives! And of course, limit their consumption as well.
Here’s what you should avoid and what you can still have occasionally.
3. Avoid Empty Calories
A calorie is not a calorie. You have probably heard this a million times, but let me tell you why. We call the ratio of nutrients to the total calorie content of foods or drinks the “nutrient density”. Therefore, foods with high nutrient density are rich in key nutrients and are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Read Why Macronutrients Are More Important Than Calories
Calorie density is measured against the weight of the food. According to The Essentials of Sports and Exercise Nutrition, calorie density is the “energy provided per unit of food”. In other words, foods with high-calorie density have many calories per 100g and those that are not calorie-dense have few calories per 100g.
The worst combination that you could go for is high-calorie density and low nutrition density. These foods won’t fill you up with proper nutrition, will leave you hungry, but increase your calories significantly. As we know, these are the worst outcomes for one aiming to lose weight.
So what you should really aim for is low-calorie density and high nutrient density. In these foods, each calorie is filled up with more nutrients, but they have fewer calories per gram. What this essentially means is that you can eat more of them without feeling guilty!
The benefits of high-nutrient dense and low-calorie dense foods:
- High essential nutrition intake in total and per food volume
- Longer feeling of fullness
- Lower calorie intake
These benefits will go a long way and will definitely help you drop weight.
4. Whole Grains Over Refined Grains
The basic difference between whole and refined grains is that while whole grains contain the entire kernel, refined grains are processed and their bran and germ are removed. As a result of this refining process, some significant nutrients also get removed from them.
In contrast, whole grains are full of nutrients, such as fiber, and also high in minerals and vitamins.
As a result, whole grains have high nutrient density, whereas refined grains are usually low in nutrients, but high in calorie density. And as we just discussed, this combination is the worst with several negative outcomes.
As an example, the Western Human Nutrition Research Center study has found that whole grains keep you full for a longer period of time.
5. Drink More Water
Water is an absolute necessity for life. Approximately 60% of a human body’s weight is made up of water. According to NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, sedentary men are advised to consume 3 L and sedentary women 2.2 L water on average per day.
However, if you’re aiming to lose fat, you should drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every 25 lbs you’d like to get rid of. And of course, if you exercise, which I assume you do, you have to further increase your water consumption.
If your body doesn’t get enough water it gets dehydrated, which is something it cannot adapt to. Therefore, dehydration can have several negative outcomes on your health, such as water retention and increased heart rate.
On the other hand, drinking enough water will properly hydrate your body. Hydration comes with several benefits, some of which are also important for reaching your weight loss goals.
If you consume enough water, your liver functions will improve, which increases the percentage of fat use for energy. This is extremely important as if you’d like to lose weight you need to burn calories from your fat, which only comes after glycogen.
Additionally, your metabolic functions will also improve. These include food digestion, blood circulation, elimination of waste products through for instance breathing and sweating, and regulation of body heat. Furthermore, enough water will also help in nutrient distribution throughout your entire body.
Bottom line is, exercising will not make you lose weight without a proper diet. Paying attention to what you eat and moving towards a healthier approach can feel difficult at first, but trust me, you can easily adapt.
Don’t try to change everything at once, it’s important to take small steps for great results.