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If you’re like most people, you’ve tried a few diets in your time.
There’s some diets that cause you to lose weight pretty quickly, but are so horrible to sustain that you can’t cope with them for more than a few weeks (sometimes not even that long) and regain the weight pretty quickly.
Other diets can seem to work for a while, but once you stop you notice the weight creeping back on again over the following months until you’re back to square one.
So what can you do to lose weight and keep it off?
A lot of people think they need to cut out sugar, alcohol, processed foods, bread and anything else ‘bad’ in order to lose weight long term. The problem with this is that just like most other ‘diets’, it isn’t sustainable for most people.
You can definitely lose weight by cutting out all these foods, but the reason you’ll lose weight is because you will be taking in less calories, not because those foods care inherently fattening.
Key point to remember – NO food by itself will cause you to gain weight. Only an excess of total calories will cause weight gain. ANY food can fit into your diet without causing you to gain weight, as long as you do not eat too many total calories. Some foods are far more calorific and far less nutritious than other foods, and these should be minimised if you want to be healthy as well as slim, but nothing needs to be cut out completely if you don’t want it to be.
The problem with cutting out your favourite foods is that you will likely feel restricted and pretty miserable when you see other people enjoying them. At some point, when you’re tired or stressed, you give in to temptation; that leads to a feeling of failure, and you give up.
Many people feel they can go on a diet, restrict themselves in some way, and then go back to ‘eating normally’ once they’ve reached their target weight. The problem with this is that ‘eating normally’ is what caused you to gain weight in the first place!
Restricting yourself on a diet will cause you to lose weight for sure, but increasing your calories after the diet by eating normally will very quickly make you put it back on again.
So what do you need to do?
Eating clean and healthy is great, but the number one factor that affects weight loss is calories.
So you need to find the easiest and most enjoyable way to be in a consistent calorie deficit.
For most people, this will come from eating 80-90% ‘clean and healthy’ foods, and 10-20% not-so-clean-and-healthy foods like the odd chocolate bar, a few glasses of wine at the weekend, and a nice meal out where you eat whatever you want.
This way you don’t feel restricted and deprived. You can have anything you want, you just need to be selective and not have it all in the same day or week!
Base a large part of your diet around protein (preferably a serving in each meal), vegetables, some fruit, and a small amount of healthy fats like avocado, oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed, eggs, nuts and seeds. Add in some carbohydrates like oats, potato, sweet potato, rice, quinoa, beans and pulses to one or two meals each day.
If other carbohydrates like bread and pasta don’t cause you to feel bloated or suffer with digestive problems, they are fine too. Anything that doesn’t negatively affect your body is ok, as long as you have it in an amount that won’t push you over your calorie requirements for the day.
Once you have this large healthy base of foods, the last 10-20% of what you eat can come from the foods you really enjoy. The key here is to be selective – don’t waste calories on junk foods that aren’t even that enjoyable.
An amazing bit of homemade chocolate cake offered to you by a friend might be worth the 500 calories it will probably cost you. A cheap shop-bought donut and a few biscuits lying around at a birthday buffet are probably not worth those calories!
Make your choices mindfully and you can save calories for things that are really worth it, and that way you can lose weight, feel healthy AND eat amazing foods you really enjoy.
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