Secrets of summer savvy weight-loss
Weight-loss is complex and confusing because there is so much conflicting information available. Weight-loss can be challenging and it is an individual journey. Fad diets may work in the short-term but they tend to fail in the long-term. Losing too much weight too quickly means that as well as losing fat you also tend to lose muscle and water, and as a result your metabolism slows and needs fewer calories to function. Avoid extreme calorie restricted diets as you will probably lose weight and then put it straight back on (plus more) when you return to your ‘normal’ eating. Focus instead on health by eating nutrient-dense food and being physically active.
Try to work out what causes you to be over weight – Do you know when you have eaten enough and feel full? Do you eat when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed? Do you think about food all the time?
Firstly, if you struggle to know when you have eaten enough you may lack chemical messages to your brain, therefore you will need to physically tell yourself when you have eaten enough. Eat slowly and chew properly. This aids digestion and allows your mind the chance to process that your stomach is full. Focus on eating and don’t multi-task. It may be best to follow a low glycaemic load diet that is high in protein so that you feel full for longer and will therefore eat less overall and lose weight.
Secondly, if you are an emotional eater it may be beneficial to have your calorie intake calculated and then reduce daily calorie intake by up to 500 calories per day to lose 0.5kg (1-2 lb) per week). To avoid slowing your metabolism, make small decreases in daily calories (such as 200 calories) to begin with until you reach your target intake. Habits, good or bad, can be learned. It is essential to work on breaking old habits and making new healthy habits (takes on average 21 days). This requires commitment on your part. This may require: attending a slimming group or joining an online group to get group support, and/or seeking help from a clinical psychologist i.e. CBT. To compete with old habits, practise a competing behaviour repeatedly. Devise a positive mantra and repeat this to yourself thousands of times daily. All these strategies will help you to change your mind-set.
Thirdly, if you crave food all the time you may benefit from intermittent fasting. This involves eating 800 calories on 2 days per week and eating healthy on the other 5 days but not restricting your intake. This may be a more manageable approach than dieting 7 days per week. It works by increasing your sensitivity to glucose by increasing your fat burning capability. You can use apps i.e. Myfitness pal to count calories.
So how do you stay motivated?
Set small realistic goals and visualise exactly what you want to achieve. It can be difficult to lose 5% of your body weight. Break goals up into manageable chunks. Be specific i.e. to eat 5 portions of vegetables per day, or to drink 2 litres of water per day. Share your goals with family members or friends; you are more likely to stick to your plan and can lean on them for support. Read messages that motivate you. Reward yourself when you reach milestones along the way; choose rewards that support your goal i.e. buying new training clothes. If you use food as a reward after exercise, set a limit on the calories to avoid over compensating. Make it enjoyable by trying new recipes. If you have a day when your willpower fails, be kind to yourself and start the next day fresh with a positive outlook.
Look at your weaknesses and try to find more healthy substitutes with ‘what if’ planning. Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself if you are really hungry? Have a drink, get up and move for 5 minutes and then decide. Sometimes we eat because we are tired, thirsty, or bored.
To summarise, avoid calorie restricted diets, eat a nutrient-dense whole-food diet, try to work out what causes you to be overweight, set SMART weight loss goals and stay hydrated.
Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Joanne Jackson
Joanne is a CNHC registered Nutritional Therapist based at the Natural Health Clinic and Run and Become in Cardiff, with specialist interest in: weight management and sports performance.