New Year, new you? But hang on, is January the right time to be losing weight? Rhiannon Lambert advises
Fear not, you don’t need to set yourself up for the relentless failure of the New Year’s diet plans that we are ‘supposed’ to follow. The answer is simple; change our lifestyle for the better and follow easy dietary changes to help us achieve our goals.
As a nutritionist, excess weight gain is without a doubt the most common complaint among the men and women that I meet. Here are a few rules to ensure that you lose the excess pounds, gain more energy and feel both healthier and happier. Weight loss is within your reach if you follow these basic tenets and stick with them consistently. Follow our plan and empower yourself to achieve your weight loss goal in 2015. Come on, we’re in it with you for the long-term.
Nutrients not numbers
Reviewing every new report on the science behind calories, I am a firm believer that a calorie is not simply defined as a calorie. If you want to watch your weight then counting calories will not help. For example, consuming 100 calories of chocolate cannot possibly have the same effect on our body as 100 calories of broccoli.
Metabolism is an extremely complex process and cannot be simplified, especially when numbers do not take into account our individual differences. Studies have shown that to burn fat you need to eat fat, the good kind found in avocados, almonds, seeds and oily fish.
THE Mediterranean WAY
Eating as Mediterranean people do can help you pay attention to your lifestyle. This includes the type of foods you eat, the portion sizes you consume, your physical activities and your overall way of life. You can incorporate such changes into your daily life and create long-term habits for sustained weight loss.
A traditional Mediterranean diet consisting of large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil. The diet is rich in fibre, slowing down digestion and preventing huge swings in blood sugar that leave you craving the wrong types of foods. With extremely low levels of refined breads, processed foods, and red meat, accompanied by moderate levels of red wine, which contains antioxidants called polyphenols (in particular resveratrol). These help increase levels of good cholesterol known as our high-density lipoproteins (HDL),
protecting against artery damage and increasing our overall health.
Sugar is not classified as a nutrient that we need as part of a balanced diet, yet it is in approximately 80 per cent of the food we find on shop shelves. Tomato sauces, low-fat yoghurts, children’s drinks, cereals, breads, the list goes on. This is largely due to the fact that sugar is addictive and can make foods taste good while enabling manufacturers to lower the calorie and fat content.
This, however, is more detrimental to our health and will sabotage any weight loss goals you have in mind.
Our bodies do not know how to process sugar.
Sucrose is a disaccharide comprised of two simple monosaccharaides, known as fructose and glucose.
Glucose is used for energy but fructose remains in our liver and can turn into fat.
The bottom line is that the more sugar you eat, the more circulating fructose you have which you are unlikely to burn off. This is quickly stored as fat and even those with a slight frame may have fatty organs as a result of excess sugar. If you want to lose the pounds, cut it out of your diet completely.
In order to reduce cravings, feel full after your meal and prevent any unhealthy binges,balancing your blood glucose (often referred to as blood sugar levels) is the answer. Every time we eat carbohydrates, our bodies release insulin to allow the glucose to be used for energy.
The more carbohydrates one consumes, particularly the refined variety (white pasta, rice and bread), the more insulin is released. Glucose is then taken up so quickly it causes a spike in our blood glucose levels.
This spike is followed by an immediate low which tells our bodies we need more glucose and before we know it we are always hungry and craving the wrong types of sugary, fast energy-releasing foods.
To resolve this, eat complex carbohydrates with protein to avoid spikes and limit this to just breakfast and lunch. This will aid weight loss and prevent bad habits creeping in, additionally giving you heaps more energy.
Finally, weight loss is of course enhanced by increased physical activity levels. The more you can get out and about, the more endorphins you are likely to produce.
Keep moving and you will reap the benefits of weight loss and a healthy body and mind. This doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, just try an hour’s walk a day, cycle to and from work, or use a fun workout DVD.
We aren’t superheroes although we often feel like we have to be. Our bodies need sleep to repair and recover from the day. The more you get, the better you will be at sticking to a clean eating regime.