Best diets for weight loss
When the word “diet” first comes to mind, it’s not uncommon for a whole slew of negative thoughts to accompany it. Diets are often thought of as extremely bland, restrictive, and unpleasant meal plans. But in reality, a diet is simply a set of food choices guided by a person’s individual needs and preferences. And even though they aren’t the only factors to consider, diet and nutrition are undoubtedly some of the most important factors to consider for weight control. Along with regular exercise, proper sleep, and stress management, finding a nutrient-dense diet that makes calorie restriction feel easy for you will not only help with initial weight loss, but it will help with long-term weight maintenance as well.
What’s the best diet for weight loss?
The best diet for weight loss is typically nutrient dense, calorie conscious (but not too restrictive), and the one that makes the most sense for your own lifestyle, preferences, and needs. Put simply, the best diet for weight loss is the one that feels right for you. Not the one that you’ve been seeing all over the internet, not the one that your best friend told you about last week, but the diet that feels like the one you could live happily with every single day for the rest of your life.
When it comes to finding that right diet, it’s easy to get wrapped up in focusing only on nutrition–how “healthy” or “unhealthy” certain foods are. And while that is undeniably important for weight loss, it’s just as important to consider other factors about your diet such as how much you enjoy having certain foods, whether or not your feel motivated to stick with your planned meals, how sustainable your food choices are, and the psychology behind those food choices. It’s not as simple as just choosing the latest fad diet and calling it a day. Finding the best diet for weight loss might take some experimenting, some investigating, and lots of trial and error. But if it means finally having the weight control that you’ve always dreamed of… it’s worth it!
Can you really lose weight by dieting alone?
Let’s go ahead and get something out of the way. There’s a big difference between “dieting” (following a strict and structured meal plan that likely means depriving yourself of some of your favorite foods) and discovering a diet (a personal food system or a set of food choices) that helps you maintain a healthy weight and feels enjoyable all at the same time.
So we can easily distinguish the difference between and a diet and dieting. But you’re probably still wondering whether or not you can lose weight by dieting alone? The answer is yes, without a doubt. In fact, chances are that most of us have lost weight by dieting ourselves at some point or another in the past. But here’s where things get sticky… did you know that people who lose weight by dieting tend to gain that same weight back 80% of the time? Which makes sense considering that dieting tends to focus on extreme changes that just simply aren’t sustainable in the long run.
But what if you’re wondering how to lose weight for good? That’s where a healthy, flexible set of food choices comes into the picture. Focusing on the fundamentals of a healthy diet, things like a regular meal schedule, choosing nutrient dense foods, controlling your portions, and eating mindfully, will not only help you lose weight, but these basic principles will also help keep you from gaining that weight back again. And if you really want to be sure that you’ll keep it off for good, it’s important to look at your health holistically by incorporating regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, tackling your thought distortions about food, and using stress management.
What diets support long-term weight loss?
Even though the same exact diet isn’t going to be appropriate for each and every one of us, there are a few key factors we should all consider when determining which diet best supports long-term weight loss. When it comes down to the nitty gritty science behind weight loss, one factor we can’t overlook is metabolic rate. Your metabolic rate is the rate at which you burn energy throughout the day. Or in other words, it’s the total number of calories you burn each day. To promote weight loss, you need to consume fewer calories than the number that you are burning (your metabolic rate). This is the reason why most diets for weight loss emphasize calorie restriction. And this is the reason why Noom emphasizes eating a nutrient-dense diet. A nutrient-dense diet ensures that your body continues to receive all of the nutrition it needs from vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients, even when you’re restricting calorie intake.
So how do you make a diet like this stick for long-term weight control? The key is discovering your own personal food system. A personal food system helps you navigate all of the internal and external factors that influence food choices–environment, thought distortions, social situations, and emotional triggers. These factors are almost unavoidable, but the trick to overcoming them is developing a personal food system that aligns with your own values and includes strategies to work around them. Once you’ve mastered making food choices in this way, and with your metabolic rate in mind, long-term weight loss won’t feel so out of reach.
Does calorie counting help with weight loss?
Calorie counting almost feels like it’s one of dieting’s oldest friends. There’s no denying how much our daily calorie intake influences our weight. And calorie counting tools can be incredibly powerful and eye-opening when they are used in the right way. What I mean by that is this…
Counting calories can bring up a lot of different emotions. And it’s really easy to get wrapped up in those numbers throughout the day. How many calories are in this iced coffee? If I eat this sandwich for lunch, will I have enough calories left for the dinner and drinks I planned with friends tonight? Well, I’m already over my calorie budget for the day, so what’s the point in trying to make a healthy choice now… it won’t make a difference anyway. These are some of the thoughts that commonly accompany calorie counting. And because of these, strictly relying on calorie counting alone often doesn’t do much good. It tends to result in a bunch of extra stress throughout the day and it places more emphasis on numbers and rules than it does on actually learning how to feel confident making healthy choices, no matter what situation or set of circumstances you might find yourself in on any given day.
But if you can learn how to use calorie counting as one tool, rather than as your only tool, then it tends to be much more beneficial. If you want to make the most of calorie counting, try using it as a tool to help learn more about yourself. As you’re logging meals throughout the day, instead of beating yourself up about the choices you’ve already made, try asking yourself questions that help get to the root of why you make certain food choices. What do these foods mean to you? How do you feel after having one food versus another. Which foods can I eat more of without going over my budget? What did you enjoy most about your meals today?
Whatever you do… don’t beat yourself up over a choice that is already said and done with. Confronting those decisions head on and thinking about what you would do differently next time is the best learning experience of all.
How do macronutrients impact weight loss?
Macronutrients are a pretty hot topic these days. And rightfully so, considering that they are the body’s primary source of energy. But you might be wondering… what are “macros” exactly? Basically, macronutrients are the nutrients required by the body in relatively large amounts to stay nourished. They include fat, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and water. Each of these macros has a unique set of functions in the body, and no one alone is more important than the other.
So when it comes to weight loss, it’s best to take a balanced approach and make sure that you are including some foods from each macronutrient group. And that’s why any diet that emphasizes one nutrient over the other should raise a red flag… think low-carb, high-fat, high-protein. Now there are some situations where diets like these might be appropriate. But if that’s the case, you will likely have heard from your doctor or dietitian on the matter. For most individuals who are simply interested in losing weight, a diet that balances all of the macronutrients is going to be your best bet.
Let’s take a look at some of the macronutrients that are most commonly associated with weight loss and a few key points to know about each…
Protein and weight loss:
Protein not only serves as one of the body’s fuel sources, but it also plays important roles in metabolism and as the building blocks for muscle, tissue, and all types of different cells.
When it comes to weight loss and protein in your diet, you’ll want to consider:
- How much protein should you eat each day: To calculate this amount, multiply 0.36 x your body weight in lbs. Or you can multiple 0.8 x your body weight in kgs. This will tell you the amount of protein in grams that your body needs each day. You can typically meet you body’s protein needs by having just 2-3 servings of protein per day.
- Nutrient dense proteins: Lean meat, seafood, tofu, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds
- Why choose protein for weight loss: Protein helps to fill you up faster, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and it even increases your short-term calorie burn.
Carbs and weight loss:
Carbohydrates are a group of sugars and starches that act as the body’s primary source of fuel. So even though they have a notorious reputation for causing weight gain, carbohydrates are actually necessary to keep the body energized and nourished.
When it comes to weight loss and carbohydrates, you’ll want to consider:
- How many carbs should you eat each day: Aim to have at least 3-6 servings of nutrient dense carbs each day. Avoid highly processed carbs like cereals, granola bars, cakes, cookies, chips, and french fries. Instead, choose less processed whole foods.
- Nutrient dense carbs: Fruits, vegetables, 100% whole grains, and legumes
- Why choose carbs for weight loss: The majority of carbs are actually really healthy and low in calories… think fruits and veggies. Carbs are usually loaded up with fiber which helps you feel fuller for longer. Plus, they keep your body energized throughout the day, which means that you are less likely to feel hungry, or hangry for that matter. And we all know what happens when we get hangry… say hello to less-than-ideal food choices.
Fat and weight loss:
Carbs might serve as the body’s main source of energy, but once you run out of sugars to burn, fats are next in line. In addition, fats are important for neurological development, keeping our cells healthy, vitamin absorption, hormone balance, and more!
When it comes to weight loss and fats, you’ll want to consider:
- How much fat should you eat each day: Have at least 2-3 servings of healthy fats each day. Limit saturated and trans fats that are found in foods like baked goods, fried foods, processed meats, and full-fat dairy. But don’t hesitate on the unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, and oils. These fatty foods are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. And contrary to popular belief, these types of healthy fats can actually improve your cholesterol levels.
- Nutrient dense fats: Fatty fish, whole eggs, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and oils
- Why choose fat for weight loss: Some research suggests that high-fat diets can be particularly helpful in reducing hunger and encouraging weight loss. Plus, chances are that if you’re intentionally trying to avoid fat, those calories will only be replaced with a lesser alternative. Foods that are “fat-free” or “low-fat” might sound weight loss friendly on the surface, but in reality, the fat removed from these products has probably replaced with sugar or other additives.
Fiber and weight loss:
Technically, fibers are a type of carbohydrate that are unable to be fully digested by the body. Fibers are either considered soluble (dissolvable) or insoluble (non-dissolvable). Each type has its benefits–soluble fiber is known for helping to reduce cholesterol levels while insoluble fiber contributes to a healthy digestive system.
When it comes to weight loss and fiber, you’ll want to consider:
- How much fiber should you eat each day: Women should aim to consume at least 28 grams of fiber each day while men should aim to have about 34 grams.
- Nutrient dense fibers: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds
- Why choose fiber for weight loss: One of the main perks to filling up on fiber is literally just that–fiber helps you to feel full. And feeling full makes it easier to keep your calorie intake in check. Plus, fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keep us from feeling hungry again quickly after a meal.
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