Weight loss. Just the mention of these two words can make people uneasy. There are a lot of myths, unverified claims and bad advice out there. What are the proven ways to not only lose weight, but also keep it off?
1. Eat more, lose more
“I’ll take ice water and a crouton please!”
Your metabolism is not that simple, and not eating can cause a variety of long-term health problems. Although we have evolved from our days roaming the plains, our metabolic systems have not yet caught up. Gone are the days where we didn’t know when our next meal would be, to an over abundance of caloric dense foods. When we don’t eat enough calories we put our metabolism into starvation mode. This means the next meal you do eat, your body is going to hold onto those calories because it is unsure when the next meal will be. It is obviously more complex than this, but this is one of the basic foundations of our metabolism.
Of course, don’t use this as an excuse to eat whatever. Eat a balanced diet with a variety of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to keep your metabolism fired up, and keep you healthy. Aim to have at least 3-5 meals a day, with around 300-500 calories, depending on your activity level.s
2. A calorie is NOT just a calorie
Your body metabolizes food and macronutrients differently. When a food is ingested, your body breaks it down into the three-macronutrient groups: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.
Most people struggle with the idea that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are packaged with dietary fiber that slows down the absorption of the carbohydrates.
Bread, pizza, pasta, etc are also carbs, though lack the other dense nutrients that vegetables and fruits possess. Your body utilizes each of these differently, but ultimately they provide energy.
When carbohydrates/Sugars are ingested, it causes a release of insulin to help your cells absorb the broken down sugars. Consequently, insulin release also stimulates the production of fat cells to store the broken energy. If over time, higher carbohydrate/sugar meals are eaten, there is a sustained release of insulin causing more fat cell production. Continued elevated levels of insulin will cause your body to become resistant to it, causing Type 2 Diabetes.
The recommend amount of carbs in your diet depends on your activity level and build, though you should aim for a well-balanced distribution of protein, carbs and fats in your diet. Tip: If you are active, you will require more carbs than if you are more sedentary.
3. Eat more protein
One of the easiest and biggest changes anyone can do to lose weight is increasing their protein intake. Most American meals consist of a high amount of carbohydrates and fats, which are very tasty! Look around. The office party has pizza, pasta, rice, tacos, cake, etc. Where’s the protein?!
If you focus on a small increase in your protein, you will be fuller longer, and you will have more building blocks for muscle production. Lean muscle increases your metabolism, which means you burn more calories. Some good examples of protein are eggs, chicken, turkey, beans, tofu and fish. Pork and beef are also proteins, though you should focus on increasing the lean proteins listed as examples.
If you are just starting to be active, and in the beginning of your weight loss and health journey, aim for 30-40g of protein per meal (a tip is to portion the approx size of your palm). Every body is different, so be sure to moderate for your body type and build. Check with your medical provider prior to making dietary changes, to make sure the kidneys can handle the increase in protein.
Eat a diet that is varied between carbohydrates, fats and proteins to keep you healthy. Make your plate colorful, with a variety of vegetables. If possible eat vegetables that are in season.
“As the saying goes, eat the rainbow.”
As always, please check with your personal medical provider before starting or changing any diet.
LEARN MORE WITH CHARLIE PIERMARINI
Founder and CEO of Restorative Care of Arizona
Charlie holds three master’s degrees: Physiology (MS) Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS), Public Health (MPH) and is a Board Certified PA.