Eat & Move
This week I’m explaining the simplest approach to weight loss. Recipe-wise I’m focusing on Halloween treats.
The world of weight-loss is a minefield. With so many diet products and nutrition plans available it can be difficult to know where to start.
First, I think it’s important to realise that despite what many marketing campaigns may tell you, when it comes to losing weight being in a calorie deficit is key. It’s less about meal frequency, food intolerances, insulin, gut health or sugar and more about calories in versus calories out.
To create a calorie deficit, and hence lose weight, we need to be consuming less calories than we expend. We can do this by decreasing calories in (from food and drink) or increasing calories out (mainly through an increase in physical activity). I would personally recommend a combination of the two from a quality of life and sustainability perspective.
To make losing weight more confusing, everywhere we look there is a new diet claiming to have found the magic solution to your weight-loss issues. In reality all they have likely done is come up with a new method for reducing your calorie intake. Whether this reduction comes from counting syns, cutting out carbs or only eating ‘clean’ foods is largely irrelevant. In fact, studies have shown that as long as calories (and protein intakes) are controlled then other variables like the number of meals you eat each day, whether you eat early in the morning or late at night, the type of exercise you do and even the types of foods you eat have little effect on fat loss.
Here are some tips that might help in achieving your fat loss goals: 1 ) H i t y o u r p r o t e in targets I would recommend aiming for 20-30g at each meal (a chicken breast, a scoop of protein powder or 2 eggs for example). This is important because adequate protein can help prevent muscle loss and maximise fat loss when losing weight. It’s also satiating so can help keep you feeling fuller. Doing a food diary for a few days or tracking your consumption on an app such as my fitness pal will help you get your head around portions. 2) Focus on good food sources While you can certainly lose weight eating your calories from pick & mix or McDonald’s, it’s a terrible idea for long term health. By swapping high sugar, high fat processed foods which tend to be hyper palatable and easy to overconsume for wholefoods higher in fibre and protein you may feel fuller for longer and have more energy. This in turn can make adherence and creating a deficit a little bit easier. Really focus on the foods that keep you full and make you feel better long term. 3) Aim to move more NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) is a key area to focus on. It can account for anywhere from 15-50% of our total energy expenditure each day and includes all activity outside of planned exercise like parking further from the entrance or getting off the bus a stop earlier. I monitor this everyday with my Fitbit. I aim for 10,000 steps a day which is no easy task! 4) Quality of life matters Diets only work if you can stick to them. If someone gives you a plan that you can’t see yourself doing l o n g term then it’s pointless. Build in things you love to make the healthy changes more enjoyable and sustainable. If a diet or a plan is very restrictive on activities you love then you’ll find it tough. I love to eat out so I always work this into my approach to food. 5) Look at the big picture Factors like sleep and stress can have a huge impact on how we function. They can make our overall diet and lifestyle more or less conducive to weight loss. These habits can help to create an environment for increased health and a sustainable calorie deficit for weight loss. Sleep deprivation increases hunger levels and makes it more difficult to make healthy choices when we eat. Stress can trigger certain responses to food choices. Keeping a food diary and recording mood around eating habits can be very helpful to identify your triggers.
The take home message from the above points is that weight loss isn’t an easy road for most. It takes a commitment to a long term sustainable method. My advice would be do not pick a diet that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or preferences. The only thing more important than a calorie deficit is consistency. Don’t get disheartened with the process, you’re in it for the long term Fitspiration Moodwatchers Shane Martin is a chartered psychologist and public speaker. I recently shared a stage with him at a health and wellbeing event. He is one of the most interesting people I’ve heard talking on the area of mental health and the importance of being connected. Be sure to check him out on Facebook and if you ever get the opportunity go hear him speak.