Let’s be honest; weight loss is not easy. Many of us try and try again but end up with unsatisfactory results. Here’s the skinny on weight management; the real, non-sugarcoated version.
Weight loss is attributed to approximately 80% of a person’s diet and 20% of exercising, so it only makes sense if we start by talking about what you should be feeding your body. Previously, dietitians and doctors have recommended that a low fat, high carbohydrate lifestyle is best suited for weight loss and weight maintenance. This is false. Excess intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars cause an evolutionary response of elevated insulin, which triggers continuous cravings for similar foods. Persistent diet of high fat, high sugar foods contribute to nutritional deficiencies of magnesium, vitamin C, and B vitamins, which lead to weight gain, fatigue, and anxiety. This sort of diet also sets people up to leaky gut syndrome and a plethora of other health concerns (Segal-Isaacson, Johnson, Tomuta, Cowell, Stein 2004).
So, what type of diet suits weight loss and maintenance best? Newer research has shown that a diet that consists of higher fat and higher protein consumption leads to increased weight loss (Stockman 2006). In addition, a high fat, high protein diet provides energy, improves satiety, maintains muscle mass, and helps dampen insulin responses, which feed hunger triggers and cravings.
Daily recommendations for a high fat, high protein diet are 1.2-1.5g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Examples of protein include: whey protein, pea protein, eggs, chicken, fish, and animal meats. Recommended intake of fat is 25% to 30% of daily caloric intake. Inclusion of healthy fats, such as those that come from fish, nuts, and seeds are recommended to help with satiety. Carbohydrates should be limited to 90g or less of daily intake and should be complex, unrefined carbohydrates stemming from green vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Studies show that fiber is also a critical component of any diet and including fibrous food is an important step in adopting a new dietary lifestyle.
Steps to Success
However, all is easier said than done. To embark on a new style of eating is no easy feat. One way to make the transition smoother is to initially track your food consumption to fully visualize what you are consuming every day. In today’s technological age, there are numerous apps that allow users to track their calories, macronutrients, and even micronutrients. Myfitnesspal or Lose it! are excellent apps for tracking food intake. However, any old journal will work just as well.
Then, after tracking your intake, identify what your eating behavioral traits are. Do you eat when you are lonely? Happy? What triggers your eating behaviors? Do you eat when you aren’t fully hungry? This will help you to start to recognize true hunger from hedonistic hunger. Treating the root of the weight gain is the best chance of success.
However, even if you are tracking your intake and recognizing your eating habits, weight loss still may not present itself. There are greater than eleven genetic abnormalities that can also contribute to weight loss resistance. There are genetic tests available to determine if there are underlying issues that resist weight loss. After identifying if your genes are the root of the problem, these tests identify the optimal macronutrient and micronutrient combinations for your body and even what type of exercise you would benefit from best.
However, even after all is said and done, weight loss still may be difficult to attain. There are underlying triggers that can undermine the weight loss and management process. The following can impede on weight loss and management:
- nutritional deficiencies
- medication nutrient depletions
- increase of stress
- poor sleep
- hormonal imbalances
- gut inflammation/unknown food allergies
In cases such as these, seeing a doctor or other health professional who can help restore your body to its best state is recommended. These professionals will help sort out what is impeding your success and be able to work through any problems more thoroughly with you one-on-one.
Remember, weight management is not a linear process. Picture it as a staircase; there will be upward trends, and downward trends. Focus on what you benefit from best, whether it be a specialized diet or other type of program, and you will be on your way to a healthier you.
Segal-Isaacson, C., Johnson, S., Tomuta, V., Cowell, B., & Stein, D. T. (2004). A Randomized Trial Comparing Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate Diets Matched for Energy and Protein. Obesity Research, 12(S11).
Stockman, J. (2006). The Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Versus Conventional Weight Loss Diets in Severely Obese Adults: One-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Trial. Yearbook of Pediatrics, 2006, 428-431.