by guest contributor: Gisela Bouvier, MBA, RDN, LDN – Team Fit Registered Dietitian
We’ve all heard of the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Lemonade Diet, HCG Diet, Paleo Diet, Dukan Diet, IIFYM – the list goes on and on. What do all of these diets have in common?... They are all about restricting calories or eliminating a food group. Is that realistic for you? For most people these diets may work at first, but they are not sustainable and they are not realistic for our busy everyday lives as working women, busy moms, and goal digging individuals. What are these diets you ask? They are a whole mess of just plain bologna!
So how exactly do we achieve weight loss goals and weight maintenance you ask, well let me put it this way… you have to EAT! Yes that’s right, you have to eat. Good health comes from real nutrition and real nutrition comes from eating quality proteins – both lean animal proteins and plant based proteins - complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and good fats – yes fats are included too! You cannot achieve or sustain weight loss if you are not fueling your body correctly.
Many people preach or focus on calorie counting as a form of weight loss. However, it is not about the quantity of calories you are consuming, but the quality of calories you are consuming. Calories are our form of energy – they are how we nourish and fuel our bodies. Focusing on calorie counting as a form of weight loss can actually work against us in achieving health and weight loss goals.
Restricting calories, particularly fat calories, means nothing in long-term weight loss and increase in health benefits. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Samaha, 2003), it was found that a low-carbohydrate diet allowed for significantly more weight loss in a 6-month trial, compared to a low-fat and low-calorie diet in obese individuals. And what do they mean by low-carbohydrate diet you ask? A low-carb diet in avoiding consumption of simple sugar carbohydrates with no fiber that when consumed in excess are stored as fat, making us gain weight. Now this is not to be confused with the bogus of low-carb Atkins diet or Paleo diet in which they are eliminating whole grain carbohydrates that are essential to our health.
So what do we need to remember?
- Don’t fall into the Fad Diet trend.
- Include lean animal proteins, plant based proteins, veggies, fruits, complex carbohydrates (such as quinoa, wild rice, barley, legumes, and faro), and good fats (such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and coconut).
- Health is 80% nutrition and 20% activity – make sure to exercise!
- Don’t count calories, count nutrients! (Tip: The richer the color, the greater the nutrients.)
- Eat intuitively – eat and fuel your body when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not.
- And most importantly, EAT – eat the right foods for weight loss, weight maintenance, and a happy healthy life <3
Read to find the perfect balance?
Samaha, FF et al. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
Healthy Eating Plate (2016). Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/