Whether you’ve promised yourself to get rid of the pandemic bulge, want to try a healthy diet, or are considering fasting, it’s worth getting professional advice and avoiding the masses of misinformation and unreliable opinions that abound in diet. , weight loss and optimal nutrition.
Eating healthier and maintaining a good weight are some of the most worthy goals we can have for the New Year, but how you go about it matters. After all, there’s no point reaching your goal weight in 2022 if you can’t maintain it. Our panel of dietitians, all spokespersons for ADSA (The Association for Dietetics in South Africa) weigh in on what’s important to know about losing weight in 2022.
Losing weight is not a sprint to the finish line
Once we set a weight loss goal, we naturally want to get there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, lasting weight loss doesn’t work that way, and the best chance for long-term results is to view your efforts as a patient, committed journey. Backed by evidence-based research, our dietitians all agree that restrictive or radical dietary fads should be avoided.
Lila Bruk says, “Set small, achievable goals with the goal of achieving a loss of 0.5 to 1 kg per week. Consult a dietitian for an individualized eating plan and weight loss strategy tailored to your lifestyle and food preferences.
Zamantungwa Khumalo adds, “Give your body time to adjust to your changing eating habits. You can’t change years of bad eating habits in just a week or a month. A healthy, balanced diet is the way to go, along with lifestyle changes such as increased regular physical activity.
Retha Harmse concludes, “Choose healthier routines and habits over restrictions and deprivations. If your new healthy diet and exercise routine matches your lifestyle, you’re more likely to stick with it long term. Aim for progress rather than perfection and avoid having an all-or-nothing approach that can lead to getting stuck. If you can’t make the best choice, just make the best choice!
Think twice more before using weight loss supplements and home remedies
With promises of faster and easier results, weight loss supplements can be tempting. However, most products marketed as weight loss aids are poorly regulated and not scientifically tested for effectiveness. They may contain ingredients that have harmful effects on body organs, such as the kidneys and liver. Many cannot be taken for long periods of time and therefore cannot provide you with lasting support.
Lila says, “There’s no quick fix and if it sounds too good to be true, then it is!” Many of these products contain potentially harmful ingredients, including stimulants, laxatives, diuretics, and even banned substances. The only way to successfully lose weight and maintain your healthy weight is to follow a sustainable, balanced diet combined with regular physical activity.
Why carbohydrates are not the enemy
Carb-restricting diets remain in vogue even as dietitians, nutrition researchers and other health professionals warn of the health risks of drastically cutting carbs in favor of protein and fat.
Retha says, “Demonizing carbs for causing weight gain is like blaming cars for all the crashes. It’s a little more complex than that! Carbs have the same energy density as protein at 17 kilojoules per gram, and you can easily reduce your daily kilojoule intake to lose weight without eliminating carbs. Carbohydrates are important sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals. For weight loss diets, choose whole and complex carbohydrates as much as possible. Include carbohydrates in your balanced diet and control your portion sizes.
How to Stay Full Longer When Trying to Lose Weight
There’s nothing like hunger to derail your weight loss efforts, so preventing hunger is an important strategy when following a weight loss diet plan.
Lila advises, “To stay full longer, fiber is really important. If you choose high-fiber foods, you’ll feel full longer and your blood sugar levels will be more balanced. Fiber-rich foods include legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Protein and fat also contribute to the satiety of a meal. To feel satisfied with your meals, make sure that half of your plate is covered with vegetables and salad; a quarter of your plate is a serving of lean protein like chicken, legumes, or fish; and the last quarter is fiber-rich whole grains. Include a small serving of unsaturated fats such as olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, or olive oil for a fully balanced, hearty meal that will enhance your weight loss.
What is a “clean diet”? and should we do it?
Clean eating trends have become increasingly popular and are often embraced by those committed to healthy lifestyles, wellness and self-care. Typically, the focus is on eating whole foods and avoiding highly processed foods. Some clean eating trends favor organically grown foods and avoid foods with preservatives or food additives. There is no specific diet, but the trend includes some fad diets that limit the consumption of certain foods such as dairy or animal proteins, or food components such as gluten.
Zamantungwa says, “There are many different definitions of clean eating around the world, but simply put, ‘clean eating’ is healthy and balanced eating. Include a variety of different whole foods such as fruits and vegetables; give preference to lean meat, chicken and fish without skin; eat whole grains and small amounts of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats daily. Drink plenty of water and choose healthy cooking methods such as grilling, baking, steaming or boiling instead of frying. When eating clean, heavily refined and processed foods should be avoided.
Retha warns against the tendency towards perfectionism when it comes to the concept of clean eating. She says, “On the one hand, you have the logical reasoning behind this, which is that ‘clean foods’ are generally less processed and refined, and are more whole foods. The health benefits of this are undisputed. On the other hand, however, following clean diets can cause so much food fear, food guilt, and make people overly restrictive and anxious about food. It’s important to take a balanced approach that allows you to enjoy your food while making the best food choices available to you at that time, and rather to avoid radicalism that causes unnecessary stress around food and diet.
Is fasting to lose weight a good idea?
Intermittent fasting diets focus on when you eat rather than what you eat. They require lifestyle changes and should not be done without first consulting your doctor, as fasting is not safe for everyone.
Retha says, “Fasting shows rapid weight loss, but it’s not sustainable. This can lead to muscle breakdown; a slower metabolic rate and interference with your liver enzymes. When we are fasting, the body’s energy comes first from glycogen, the glucose stored in our muscles and liver, and then from your muscle in a process called gluconeogenesis. Fat is more like a 2 day notice count and it takes longer than a period of intermittent fasting to convert fat stores into ketones for energy. For those who are serious about reaching their weight loss goals this year, following a balanced, healthy diet and engaging in daily physical activity is the sure and lasting path to success!