Weight loss happens when you use more calories than you consume. It takes 3500 calories to burn 1 pound fat. A safe weight loss is generally 1-2 pounds per week. This can be done through diet and/or exercise. Most people choose diets because they take less physical effort.
As part of any good weight management plan, proper nutrition and portion size are very important. Most traditional diets put one or both of these in imbalance, resulting in temporary weight loss. Once the imbalance is back in balance, unless you’ve modified your lifestyle in a sustainable way, chances are you’ll gain the weight back only to try another diet resulting in imbalance and temporary weight loss. This is the classic yo-yo diet.
Atkins and other carb restricting diets work by placing your body in nutritional imbalance by forcing your body to burn protein instead of carbs, which uses more calories. Some carbohydrates are essential to proper health. You can actually stave without some carbohydrates in your diet long term.
Calorie restricting diets work by putting your body in calorie imbalance by lowering the amount of overall calories consumed. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Calorie restricting diets take on many forms from only eating a few select items such as grapefruit, salads, or cereal to simply counting calories. No matter what form, they all work the same way by limiting the total calorie intake. However, you must be careful not to restrict intake too much for too long otherwise your body goes into starvation mode and lowers your metabolism. Thus, when you starting eating normal again, you gain weight back even faster. Some of these diets also place your body in nutritional imbalance by limiting the quality and quantity of nutrients consumed below what is needed by the body. Both of these conditions can lead to malnutrition long term.
You may want to use on of these diets to loose some weight. However, you must have a long-term nutrition plan to keep the weight off. This is where portion control comes into play. The typical American portion is huge, especially after calorie restricting diets. There are a few tricks to keeping portion size (and therefore your body size) under control.
Exercise. Most people know that diet and exercise are important to weight loss. The problems starts when people stop exercising once they reach their goal weight. Then they stop paying attention to what they eat. These combine to cause weight gain. Keep up the exercise. If you’ve been exercising a lot, you may cut the intensity or frequency, but don’t just stop altogether.
Keep a food journal. Websites like Fitday.com can help by tracking nutrition, food quantity, calories, and even exercise to give personalized reports. Once you understand what and how much you’re eating, you can better determine your optimum calorie level and portion sizes for weight maintenance.
Use smaller plates. This may sound silly but if you have smaller plates, you will eat less at one serving yet still have a full plate. The key is not to go for seconds.
Make fruits and veggies the main part of the meal. Fruits and veggies are nutrient rich and low calorie. Yet they are packed with fiber which makes you feel full.
Stay away from empty calorie carbs. I’m not sure the difference between complex and simple carbs. I know one is more processed than the other but always get which one is which mixed up. Anyway one of them, the processed one, is bad. It is full of calories and low on nutrition. You can overeat this way. So stick with lower processing such as whole grain instead of white bread.
Drink more water. Sometimes you can confuse thirst for hunger. If you feel hungy and it’s been less than 4 hours since you last ate, you may just be thirsty. Try drinking some water. If after 10 minutes you’re still hungry, eat a light snack.
Drink less alcohol, juice, soda, and other non-water drinks including sports drinks. People often don’t pay attention to the calories in what they drink. Also, be careful of marketing ploys such as the flavored and vitamin added waters. Many of these products actually have a lot of calories, some have even more than juice or soda. Try replacing these drinks with low calorie drinks such as water, tea, coffee. Green tea actually can help in weight loss. If plain tea is not your thing, add a teaspoon of honey or fruit juice. However, be careful of calories in bottled teas.
One thing I’m using is called the No S Diet. It’s more of a nutrition plan than traditional diet. It doesn’t require counting calories, carbs, or points. It relys on will power and 3 simple rules:
- No seconds
- No sweets
- Not on days starting with s or other special occasions
If you want to have pizza, fine. Just one slice. Chicken with rice? Just one serving. Pie ala-mode? Better make it on the weekend. The best thing about this is that unlike most traditional diets, it can be followed for you entire life without putting yourself in danger of malnutrition because it doesn’t limit the type of foods you can eat except sweets. You can still have your favorite foods, just in moderation.
If you like seconds or tend to eat large servings, take the amount you would have in a serving and put half back. Wait ten minutes. If you’re still hungry after eating that, then get the other half for seconds.
Finally, what I’ve been doing this week is filling half my plate with salad and the other half with whatever else we’re having for dinner. This gives me a full plate of food with half the calories. Yet, I feel full because of the salad. Just be sure to use mostly greens and a low calorie dressing (I like Kraft’s Lite Zesty Italian) or you may actually increase the number of calories if you use lots of toppings and regular creamy dressing.
Keep in mind I’m not a nutritionist and this is just based on my personal research and readings.