What should you eat/not eat if you want to lose weight?
Most weight loss diets have traditionally focused on promoting a low fat diet. This is because per gram, fat is the most energy dense (or high calorie) type of food we can eat. Therefore if we eat too much fat, we will gain weight. Furthermore there is good evidence that some fats (trans fats and saturated fats) have a particularly negative effect on our health, causing not just weight gain but problems for our cardiovascular system. However, fat is not all bad. In fact fat is a vital part of our diet, providing essential vitamins and helping us to find food filling and satisfying. Ultimately the majority of people who follow a low fat diet plan, can’t maintain their eating habits in the long term and often regain more weight than they lost when they return to eating normally.
There have been a number of high profile diets that reject the concept that a high fat diet will cause weight gain and instead promote removing carbohydrates including sugar from the diet. Considerable weight loss is often seen in carbohydrate free diets but in the long term, few people sustain the approach due to the numerous side effects such as constipation, night sweats and bad breath. Once again when most people return to their usual diet they regain the weight they lost.
But perhaps refined sugar rather than carbohydrates in general, is the problem. It has been argued that sugar is addictive and that this is the reason why so many individuals struggle to control their weight. Most people certainly find that high sugar foods taste fantastic and sugar is now everywhere, no-longer confined to desserts and sweets, it is in almost all ready meals or convenience foods, most sauces and salad dressings and even in some processed meats like ham, bacon or pre-roasted chicken. Why is sugar added to all these foods? Because it helps processed food to taste good. From a health perspective, eating refined sugar is actually completely unnecessary. We can breakdown the complex carbohydrates, fats and protein that we eat to provide the energy we need to function and my personal experience is that the less sugar I eat the less sugar I want but when I eat sugar I crave sugary food.
So to answer my original question “What should you eat/not eat if you want to lose weight”? I advocate the following broad principles
Some healthy fat is essential in the diet and promotes satiety and makes diets sustainable in the long term. However trans fats should be avoided and saturated fats should be kept to a minimum.
Refined sugar has no nutritional value and consumption can be associated with maintaining a craving for high sugar, high fat junk food.
A balanced diet contains protein, fat and complex carbohydrates including plenty of vegetables .
For further information on this approach and help in applying these principles in your own life please get in touch.