Thinking Differently About Weight Loss
Many of the diet trends today actually work! Some of the more popular diets like the ketogenic, paleo, and vegan diet are in fact effective, but whether or not they are sustainable is questionable. The problem with restrictive diets like Atkins, is that they suggest you cut out vital nutrients that the body uses to function. Our culture has influenced us to believe that carbs are bad and the main cause of belly fat, when in fact, we need carbs for energy. Even though some of these diets are effective, there are some health risks. For instance, with high-protein diets, people typically eat more saturated fat and eat less fiber. Consequently, risk factors for heart disease and some types of cancer increases. Kidney function may also be impaired because the kidneys have to work harder to eliminate the extra toxins that come from consuming too much protein. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins each play a vital function in the body and one simply cannot replace the other. Carbohydrates in particular have received a bad rap. This is because of the bad carbs, sugar, and processed foods, that raise the body's blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels drastically increase, you are more likely to overeat.
So how do you lose weight then? By consuming less calories than you expend. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, to lose 1-2 lbs of body fat, you must maintain an average calorie deficit of 500 to 1000 calories per day. Counting calories is a reasonable approach to weight loss because it is less restrictive, allowing you to eat the variety of foods your body needs. I'm not saying you need to weigh your food and count calories for the rest of your life, but it is a good idea to do so initially, to make you more aware of what you are consuming. For example, we hear that olive oil is good for us, but there are 119 calories in one tablespoon of olive oil. If you used olive oil while cooking your morning omelet, in your salad dressing for lunch, and while sautéing your dinner, then you have consumed 357 calories. Once you have a general idea of the amount of calories in certain foods and the amount you are consuming, you can make better choices going forward. Take the time to educate yourself and really know your food. Start reading labels and looking at the serving size. I have yet to meet someone who has done a fad diet and has made it a lifestyle. The only people I've met who have successfully stayed on a restrictive diet had to do so for medical reasons. By having knowledge of your calorie intake and focusing on eating balanced meals, you can live a full life, meet your weight loss goals, and do so without having to deprive yourself.