Weight loss takes place when there is a deficit created between the energy intake and energy expenditure.
There are a couple of different routes that can be taken to achieve weight loss but as a dietitian, I would never recommend cutting out entire food groups to achieve this deficit, as this can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Here are a few dietary patterns that have proven to result in weight loss .
1. Higher protein, moderate-carbohydrate diet
Protein helps to control your appetite. It also helps build muscle which burns more calories at rest. Sources of protein include meat, legumes, fish, eggs and nuts.
When we consume carbohydrates such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, the pancreas in response, secretes the insulin hormone which allows the carbohydrates to be used as energy. Excessive intake of carbohydrates causes a surge in the production of the insulin hormone which promotes fat storage. It is also important that the carbohydrates consumed are primarily low GI carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, fruits and low fat dairy and not processed or refined carbohydrates such as white bread and refined snacks. High GI carbohydrates cause an increase in the blood sugar level which increases the amount of insulin released into the blood. While, low GI carbohydrates have a stable effect on the blood sugar levels and therefore reduce the amount of insulin secreted into the blood ( See article, ‘Carbohydrates are not your enemy’ to learn more about carbohydrates) .
2. Lowering the energy density of the diet.
This involves altering the foods eaten rather than the amount. For example, a big meal with healthier foods may not result in weight gain as a small meal with processed, high fat and high sugared foods would. This is because foods such as fast food, confectionary and cakes have a calorie density of more than 4 calories per gram. In comparison, non-starchy vegetables, broth based soups, cooked grains and legumes have a calorie density of less than 1.5 calories per gram.
Here are a few tips on how-to lower the energy density for each meal:
- “The plate model” Build your plate to have ½ of non starchy vegetables, ¼ protein, ¼ low GI carbohydrates. Examples of starchy vegetables that should not be included are potatoes, corn, peas, parsnips, sweet potato and yams.
- Limit sugar and fat. Such as, deep fried foods, soft drinks and high fat dressings.
- Consume more water and less sweetened beverages.
As you can see from the pictures above, the calories are equal but the energy density from both the meals are different. This means the body will metabolise each meal differently.
On the left, you have a small meal that is high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. That can also raise your blood sugar, cholesterol, cause weight gain and make you feel sluggish.
Whereas on the right, you have a meal that contains a greater quantity of food but covering a wide range of food groups (e.g. wholegrain carbohydrates, protein, fruit, vegetables and low fat dairy). The lean meat and wholegrain carbohydrates give you the energy you require and help keep you full for a longer duration of time. The fruit and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fibre that allow hormones to work properly and the metabolic process in the body to work efficiently.
3. Intermittent fasting (5:2 Diet)
This involves alternating between eating and fasting. The three common ways of intermittent fasting includes:
- 16/8 method which involves eating for a period of 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours.
- The 5:2 diet involves having a normal calorie intake (about 2000 calories) for 5 days and eating between 500-600 calories for 2 days.
- Fasting an entire day once or twice a week.
Fasting is a common method to reduce calories. Intermittent fasting is an easier version of the traditional method. The other benefits, are that your body may physiologically get used to a lower calorie diet which makes it easier to curb unwanted food cravings.
Contact us for results focused on nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney.If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.