So you want to lose weight? But there’s a big problem: You love food. I can’t blame you, I love food too. That feeling I get from taking my first bite of pizza after a long tiring day is just euphoric. Maybe for you it’s chicken wings, chocolate, pasta, whatever it is, we all have our guilty pleasures. If only we could eat anything we want and stay the same weight, right?
The scariest phrase ever: My pants don’t fit anymore
Food is not only essential for our survival, it is part of our culture, our social landscape, it is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Most of our major celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, and first dates, we celebrate with food. Sometimes, we enjoy it a little too much and the next thing you know, you’re struggling to fit into your favorite pair of jeans. The horror.
If you’re having this problem right now, well, fear not because in this article I’m gonna show you how to fit in your pants again without giving up your favorite foods. No, it doesn’t require putting butter on your legs to make it slippery so the pants slide up with ease. If you want to know how, then keep reading.
Depriving yourself won’t help you lose weight
Foods have different calories and it just so happened that the best tasting ones contain higher calories. Admit it, a bowl of pasta tastes better than a bowl of salad.
When people realize they’ve gained weight, the first solution that comes to mind is ‘dieting’. We cut out foods we deem as the culprit for the extra pounds, usually the ones we enjoy eating the most.
We deprive ourselves of this pleasure and we try to consume fewer calories than our bodies need. But multiple studies show that dieting and depriving ourselves only does the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.
Dieting doesn’t work because our bodies process it as starvation, hence, it gives us hunger signals and starts to store fat as storage to keep us alive, especially in our bellies where most of our vital organs are located. Depriving ourselves of our favorite foods only makes our brains want them even more, resulting in food obsessions and binge eating. You can read more about it here.
Eating too clean is bad for you too
Depending on which diet we follow, there are many foods that people tell us to cut out. Let’s take ‘salty foods’ for example. A registered dietitian named Christy Harrison, had a patient who avoided salty foods and drank lots of water because it’s ‘healthy’. The sodium levels in her blood got too low that she ended up in the hospital.
Another horror story is from a psychiatric nurse practitioner, Katie Bell. She treated a 14-year old girl who, after having lost 80 pounds, ended up in the hospital for having an irregular heartbeat. The young girl was only eating raw foods and vegetables.
This obsession to clean eating has become a real problem to many that it’s become recognized as an eating disorder called “Orthorexia Nervosa”. We think that the secret to health and weight loss is eating clean and avoiding the ‘bad’ foods, but it’s actually all about balance. Here are seven tips to help you achieve that balance and lose weight:
1. Eat more whole foods
Yes, the ultimate secret to weight loss is calorie deficit. There’s a trick to making sure you consume fewer calories without starving yourself or counting calories. It’s real simple:
Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, contain fewer calories than processed foods. They contain more nutrients, are more energizing, and more filling because they have lots of fiber. Notice how you feel after you’ve just had a sugary cereal. You’d probably feel more hungry and tired after about an hour or less.
If the majority of your diet consists of vegetables and whole grains, your average calorie intake would naturally be lower than if your diet revolved around cookies and instant noodles. Let’s say you had overnight oats for breakfast, a salad for lunch, fruit and nuts for snacks, and pizza for dinner, your total calories would still be pretty low.
The trick is not to eat less but to eat more low-calorie, nutrient-dense, filling foods. It’s the natural appetite suppressant. If you want a donut but you’ve had a salad beforehand, you won’t feel as hungry and maybe you’d eat a piece. But if you just went straight to eating donuts, you might eat five.
2. Get all the macronutrients in each meal
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Eating a balanced plate not only makes sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs, it also keeps you full for longer and keeps your energy levels stable.
Studies show that eating carbohydrates with fats slows down the rate at which our foods are emptied from the stomach and adding protein reduces the temporary spike in our blood sugar.
This is great because when our blood sugar rises too rapidly, it crashes down just as quickly, causing a dip in our energy levels. People refer to this phenomenon as ‘sugar high’ or ‘food coma’. You’ll have less energy to move around.
To make it easy for you, you can use this formula as a guide:
Grain-Based Carbs + Fibrous Carbs + Protein + Healthy Fats
Carbohydrates include potatoes, oats, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables. Good protein sources are eggs, meat, tofu, and beans. Some healthy fats are avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
3. Drink plenty of water
I’m sure you already know this. We are made of 70% water. Not only do our bodies need it for all of its bodily functions, water also contains zero calories and it helps suppress appetite. Make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. It would help to always carry around a water bottle with you if you always forget to drink it.
4. Prioritize sleep
Multiple studies show that a lack of sleep leads to weight gain. It increases the levels of ghrelin and decreases the levels of leptin in our brains resulting in an increase in hunger and craving for high-calorie foods, which may then lead to gaining some extra pounds.
If you are having trouble with getting enough sleep, you have to start making an effort into fixing this problem. Maybe it’s because of the blue light on your phone when you scroll social media on your bed, maybe you drink too much caffeine late in the day, or maybe you just need a wind-down routine.
Check out this article for more tips on getting a good night’s sleep!
5. Move more
You need to burn more calories than you’re consuming to lose weight. To burn more calories, you have to move more. Even if it’s just walking for 15-20 minutes every day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, yoga, whatever works for you.
Find an exercise that you enjoy doing. This will help you be more consistent in doing it. If you like doing intense exercises like HIIT, weight-lifting, running, make sure you get enough rest days. See more benefits of exercise here.
6. Be patient
Sure, you can lose weight in 10 days by going on an extreme diet, but you would only end up gaining it back, if not more. If you want a weight loss that you’ll be able to maintain, the healthy amount of weight to lose is one to two pounds per week.
So if you want to lose ten pounds, it would probably take you about 5 to 10 weeks. I know it sounds like a long time but isn’t that better than weight cycling? You lose weight fast and then gain it back plus more, you lose weight again, gain it back plus more, until your weight becomes higher and higher and it becomes harder and harder to lose.
7. Don’t try to lose weight
If you focus on the end-result it will only make it harder for you to achieve your goals.
“The score takes care of itself”
According to James Clear, author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits, the goal in every sport is to get the best score. If you ignore the scoreboard and focus on the game itself, playing better, strategizing, you’re likely to get the best score than if you spend the whole game looking at the scoreboard.
Stop focusing on the scale or checking yourself in the mirror everyday. Instead, focus on the habits that would lead you to your goal like eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. Do it because it makes you feel good and makes you function better, not because you expect to look like a Calvin Klein model.
Besides, studies show that intentional weight loss is nearly impossible to sustain and most people who’ve lost weight in this way end up gaining back most or all of it within five years.
If you want to lose weight and maintain it, you have to change your lifestyle.The result will come as a side effect without you even noticing because you’re just so busy living your life.
Lose weight and keep it off
Losing weight doesn’t mean you give up your favorite foods. You may lose weight by putting food restrictions and depriving yourself, but this isn’t sustainable and the results won’t last.
Because what’s the point of weight-loss if you can’t even enjoy the chocolate your boyfriend gave you, the cake at your birthday party, or the pizza party with your friends? It’s all about finding that perfect balance and making lasting lifestyle changes.
Do you want to lose weight but you love eating? Here’s how to lose weight while eating more
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Methods for Voluntary Weight Loss and Control,” Annals of Internal Medicine 116, no. 11 (June 1992).
- Higginson, A. D., & McNamara, J. M. (2016). An adaptive response to uncertainty can lead to weight gain during dieting attempts. Evolution, medicine, and public health, 2016(1), 369–380. https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eow03
- J. Policy et al., “The effect of Deprivation on Food Cravings and Eating Behavior in Restrained and Unrestrained Eaters,” International Journal of Eating Disorders 38, no. 4 (2005): 301-9
- Harrison, Christy(2021). Anti-Diet: Reclaim your time, money, well-being, and happiness through intuitive eating. Little Brown Spark
- Makris, A. P., Borradaile, K. E., Oliver, T. L., Cassim, N. G., Rosenbaum, D. L., Boden, G. H., … Foster, G. D. (2011). The Individual and Combined Effects of Glycemic Index and Protein on Glycemic Response, Hunger, and Energy Intake. Obesity, 19(12), 2365–2373. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.145
- Lodefalk M, Åman J, Bang P. Effects of fat supplementation on glycaemic response and gastric emptying in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes. Diabetic Medicine. Published online August 29, 2008:1030-1035. doi:10.1111/j.1464-5491.2008.02530.x
Article by Breech Mae Valencia