Should you be Eating Less or More When Trying to Lose Weight?
Have you ever heard of the saying “food is fuel for the body”? They say that for a good reason. How do you expect to lose weight or build muscle without having the vital ingredients for the body to be able to do this? So when eating for weight loss ‘dieting’ isn’t the answer. The more efficiently you can control your body through nutrition and exercise, the more food you will be ALLOWED to eat, as the body will require more nutrients!
Cutting carbs, rapid weight loss diets or not eating all together may make you lose weight quickly, however often make you put that weight back on just as easily and have you feeling tired and under nourished. I have found with many clients that when you go back to eating regular foods you will fall back into your old ways.
Cutting carbohydrates can play a role in weight loss but there still needs to be sufficient amounts for the body to run efficiently especially when exercise is involved. Hence, why people often feel hungry when they begin to exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, this can often be counterproductive, unless you find the right balance of healthy, filling foods.
Refined or simple carbohydrates such as white flours, white rice, pasta, lollies and sugary drinks will spike blood sugars and have you feeling sluggish.
These carbs lack the fibre found in complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables) and are metabolized by the body much quicker, giving you a short burst of energy followed by that large dip in energy levels you often get after eating lollies or drinking soft drink.
Also, the brains sole source of energy is glucose. So without carbs the brain wouldn’t function!!
Some great tips when eating for weight loss include listening to your body, taking small steps, goal setting, stress management and nutrient timing.
Listen to your body
A 3 year old girl said to me “I’m listening to my body” at the gym last week, when I thought about it later on that day, that’s exactly what more people should be doing. When the body is hurting, we sense it, when the body is craving certain types of food, we sense it. We need to be able to understand what the body actually wants. When craving specific foods, it may be shouting at you for specific vitamins or minerals.
Check out this chart and see if your cravings are satisfied by the healthier option.
Take Small Steps
- Start each day with a nutritious breakfast e.g. eggs, avocado, spinach and tomato.
- Get 8 hours of sleep each night, as fatigue can lead to overeating.
- Eat your meals seated at a table, without distractions.
- Eat more meals with your partner or family.
- Teach yourself to eat when you’re really hungry and stop when you’re 80% full.
- Reduce your portion sizes by 20%, or give up second helpings.
- Eat a nutritious meal or snack every few hours. This is good for high protein foods as it stops the breakdown of muscle but overall calories throughout the day will affect weight loss to a greater extent.
- Drink more water and cut out sugary drinks including cheap juices which are often loaded with added sugar.
- Flavour your foods with herbs, vinegars, mustards, or lemon instead of fatty (sugary) sauces.
Attack small goals each week such as trying a new vegetable (there is so many available at fruit market), swapping a portion of pasta for extra vegetables or going for complex wholegrain carbs instead of simple refined carbs. These should lead to your number one goal and keep you on track. By hitting smaller goals gives you a positive feeling and increases motivation when you accomplish a new goal each week.
Stress hormones such as cortisol plays an important role in weight management and an imbalance of these hormones can often lead to weight gain.
Cortisol is important for the maintenance of blood pressure and the stimulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism for energy and the stimulation of insulin release to maintain blood sugar levels. Cortisol is highest in the morning which helps to stimulate the appetite and this is why a nutrition breakfast is important to keep the body and the brain performing throughout the day. Imbalance of cortisol levels can lead to an increased appetite, storage of visceral fat and imbalance of other hormones
Changing habits should be a slow process, over a month, 6 months or even a year. It’s easy to fall back into these habits, which is why they became habits in the first place. So you need to rid of them the same way you brought them in, slowly but surely. This may put you out of you comfort zone but eventually it will feel ‘normal’.
The amount and timing of nutrients is significant for weight loss. The amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats varies from men to women, age to age and size to size but cutting back on portion sizes particularly with simple carbs and saturated fats will help you lose the weight.
Increase the number of vegetables/legumes/ beans, swap saturated fats such as margarine and processed meats for unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts and salmon and decrease the amount of pasta, rice, and starchy carbs.
The body can only metabolize so much protein at a time so it’s best to take your daily protein over 4 to 5 meals or snacks. This is why nuts make great snacks!! You need approximately 0.75g/kg – 1g/kg of protein per day and you would need to increase your daily intake with more resistance training.
Protein has a greater thermogenic effect than carbohydrates or fats which means it makes the body work harder to break down the protein, burning more calories and having a greater contribution to weight loss.
So if you have cheated and scrolled right to the bottom… eat more to lose weight.
Our next blog will go into more detail about nutrient consumption and timing… stay tuned!