Losing weight is something that is heavily on the minds of most people. And quite rightly so, when you consider that 68.8% of all adults in our country are overweight or obese (35.7% are actually obese and 6.3% are extremely obese). However, there are dangers with this as well. A simple online search will reveal thousands of diets and plans to help people lose weight, each one more outrageous than the next. Some suggest only eating cabbage soup for three weeks, others suggest chewing each morsel of food at least 37 times, others still believe you should cut eggs out of your diet and so on. Most of these programs have a few things in common. Firstly, they are not based on any type of scientific evidence or, if it is, they have twisted the evidence. Secondly, they all claim to have the backing of some sort of celebrity, which is generally completely untrue. The biggest thing they have in common, however, is that even if they do work, they do not promote sustainable – and thereby healthy – weight loss.
If you want to lose weight, you need to do far more than quickly shed a few pounds. You have to actually change your lifestyle, as this is what caused you to be overweight in the first place. If you return to your original diet after having lost some weight, you will simply put it straight back on. This is known as the yo-yo effect and is one of the reasons why gastric surgery often fails. So what is a healthy weight loss diet? How do you make sure you get rid of the excess weight once and for all?
A Healthy Weight Loss Diet
If you are currently overweight, it means that you are eating more calories than you are burning off. Weight loss really is about simple mathematics. You will have heard the idea that men need an average of 2,500 calories per day, whereas women need an average of 2,000. This is an acceptable average, although you may be better off making exact calculations for yourself. What you need to do first, therefore, is either reduce your calorific intake, or increase the number of calories you burn.
The second element is about being healthy. Technically speaking, for instance, you could switch over to one of the fad diets that tells you to eat and drink nothing but steak and red wine. While you will then reduce your calorific intake, and perhaps even lose some weight, your body will no longer receive all of the nutrients it needs to sustain itself, leaving you unhealthy. You must make sure, therefore, that what you eat is balanced and healthy, preferably following the Eat Well Guide (one third of your diet should be fruit and vegetables, one third should be starch, the other third should be divided between dairy and protein and a tiny bit of sugars and fats).
Finally, you must understand biology. Our bodies still, to some degree, live in the Stone Age. If you drop the number of calories that you eat, your body will think that food is scarce and that you will soon be near starvation. As a result, it will start building up fat reserves, as fat is something that your body can sustain itself on for both nutrients and warmth if your diet is significantly reduced. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take very long for our body to go into starvation mode. In fact, if you do not eat breakfast, the process will already start.
Putting all of this together should leave you with a healthy weight loss diet. The majority of us would much prefer starving ourselves for a week and seeing immediate results, but this is never a good idea. First of all, this can lead to the yo-yo effect, as mentioned previously. The reality is that dieting in this way is unsustainable, and you will put the weight back on. Secondly, even if you were somehow able to sustain rapid weight loss for a long period of time, you will be left with sagging skin, as it is not given the time to slowly stretch back into position.
An Example of a Healthy Weight Loss Diet
Your day must start with breakfast. It is called the most important meal of the day and for good reason. Opt for healthy grains, for instance, a bowl of porridge with apple and banana and a glass of cherry juice on the side (hitting three of the five fruits and vegetables you have to eat each day).
After breakfast, kick start your metabolism by doing some gentle exercise. A simple yoga sun salutation, for instance, which does not require any experience in yoga, is a perfect way to do this. You could also choose to do this before your breakfast.
Between breakfast and lunch, try to get as much physical movement as possible. Park a little bit further away from school. Cycle to work for a change. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every little helps, and you will notice the results.
Lunch should be light and airy. Some sort of salad, perhaps with a little wholegrain salad and some salmon is best. One salad, unless it is a very large one, will only count as one of your recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, but if you already had three for breakfast, you are left with just one more.
Between lunch and dinner, get as much physical activity once again. This is also the perfect time to go to the gym, as it speeds up your metabolic rate for a few hours, meaning you won’t have to feel guilty about having a biscuit with a cup of tea later on the evening, or a sliver of cake.
Your final meal of the day should completely follow the Eat Well guidelines. Choose plenty of vegetables, some boiled or baked potatoes or wholegrain rice, lean white meat and fish, and an egg on the side is all you really need.