““To get something you never had, you gotta do something you never did”
– Denzel Washington
“Weight loss is hard work, not magic”
– Machiel N. Kennedy
“You might not see anything happen in the first week or even the second week, but bit by bit, and much quicker than it took to put on the weight, you will start to turn things around, your body will appreciate what you’re doing”
– Dr Hilary Jones
The Benefits of Healthy Weight Loss
At some time or another, some of us may want or need to reduce body fat and now that summer is a stone’s throw away, it is inevitable that the usual fad diets will be hitting the headlines and magic supplements for fat loss will pop up on our social media feeds.
Sure, there’s a plethora of purported ways of shedding unwanted body fat on the internet, but there’s no escaping the fact that losing body fat is, for many people, a real challenge; not least because to do so successfully and for the long-term requires hard work and discipline and it takes time.
Mind and Body Together
It is often said that achieving fat loss is as much influenced by our state of mind as it is our physical state, i.e. what we eat and drink and the exercise we undertake.
We all set ourselves objectives and then work towards them.…exams, driving test, preparing for a work interview, planning a holiday, buying a first home… the list is endless.
Whether we know it or not, many of us use the SMART model when we set ourselves normal, everyday objectives and perhaps one way to achieve a weight loss target and sustain for the longer term is exactly the same way we achieve other goals:
Clearly define the goal.“I want to lose 5kg” is much more specific than“I want to lose weight” and even better is to focus on the healthy behaviours that will create fat loss e.g. "I will cook a healthy dinner at home each night" rather than eating in fast food restaurants each night.
Break down the goal into measurable milestones, for example“I will lose 1kg per week for five weeks" or behaviour related goals e.g. "this week I cook/prepare 3 healthy meals each day that will contribute to my goal".
Ensuring the goal we set ourselves is achievable and healthy ensures we stay motivated and focused on reaching it.
Which objective are you more likely to stay engaged with and focused on?
“I will lose 5kg in five weeks, by losing 1kg per week for five weeks”
“I will lose 5kg in one week”
One common reason for non-achievement of objectives is due to objectives being over-stated at the outset. It might be more productive to set a modest objective initially and then recalibrate a second objective, once the first one has been achieved.
Which do you think has the greater chance of success?
“Once I have lost 5kg, I will lose another 5kg”
“I will lose 10kg”
Giving ourselves a time frame for achieving our goal acts as an accountability mechanism and a means of tracking our progress.
“I will lose 5kg in five weeks” has a clear deadline, whereas “I will lose 5kg” does not.
Know Your “Why”
It’s great to have SMART goals, they give you a roadmap for your journey, give you an anchor to come back to along the way. Nonetheless, underpinning all of this, is your why. Why are you wanting to embark on your weight loss goal in the first place? What is your emotional connection to how this would enrich your life? What is the meaning behind why this is important to you? Is it so you can play longer with your grandchildren, so you can run a 10km with your partner, or so you can feel healthier and happier every single day? Often, when we dig deeper at what sits behind why we want to start, they are grounded in values and purpose, they are grounded in something which is truly important to us. When you give your why a voice, it shifts goals into a mission.
Setting Ourselves Up for Success
With our weight loss goal quantified, there are a number of ways our behaviour can give us the best possible chance of setting ourselves up for success:
We can’t succeed unless we try, and that means taking action and starting somewhere. Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction
It’s tough starting out on a new journey and being negative serves no benefit. Even if we only achieve10% of our goal, it’s much better than achieving100% of nothing
Being focused on the goal is terrific, but it may help to maintain perspective and avoid “goal burnout” by keeping in mind the goal is only one element of our lives
Breaking it Down
There are no shortcuts to achieving a weight loss goal safely and breaking the goal down, not just in terms of time, but action points too, makes our goals much more attainable
So, the bad news is everyone fails at some point. Oh, and the good news is everyone fails at some point too. Our failures help us to learn and we should be gentle on ourselves when we do fail, because we are learning
Many of us work better when those nearest and dearest to us know about and support the objectives we have set ourselves. If this works for you, tell everyone and get them to support your goal
Don’t Tell Anyone
Others of us work better when we “just get on with it” ourselves. The important point on both of these is “do what works for you”
None of us are experts at everything and achieving and maintaining weight loss can be supported by having an understanding of nutrition, exercise, food groups etc. If you believe getting professional support will help you, congrats., you’re doing exactly the right thing. Seek advice from a registered dietitian or nutritionist
Y’need a map to not only know where you’re heading to, but also so you can see how far you’ve come. Enjoy tracking your progress, you’ve deserved it
Visualise the Goal
It’s not dreaming, it’s keeping the goal in the forefront of your mind, so you know what you’re working so hard for
Nutrition for Weight Loss
So, with goals set, and positive mindset and behaviours in place, what are the key nutritional pillars to successful and sustained weight loss? Here are some evidence based straight up facts to support nutrition for fat loss.
There’s no escaping the basic mathematics of weight loss; it comes down to maintaining a sustained calorie deficit – or, put another way, burning up more calories than we eat.
Whatever approach you decide to take, calories do count. Some people find it beneficial to track what they are eating… for others this may not be suitable or useful. Do what works for you. The generally rule is if you want to lose approximately 0.5kg a week then you need to average a weekly deficit of 500kcal per day. There are of the bodyweight and activity level.
Fruits and Vegetables
Using more fruits and vegetables can be a safe and healthy way to lose or maintain weight, not least because they provide essential vitamins and minerals, fibre and other substances that are important for good health.
Using fruit and vegetables is an ideal way for us to create lower-calorie versions of some of our favourite dishes by substituting low-calorie fruits and vegetables in place of higher-calorie ingredients. The water and fibre in fruits and vegetables will add volume to our dishes, so we can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories.
Protein supports many bodily functions and some reports suggest lean protein, like lean meat, fish, poultry, soybeans, and eggs, can support attainment of weight loss by contributing to a feeling of fullness and satiation.
Even without these reported effects, protein can play a significant role in weight loss, by supporting the body in exercise, as protein is the perfect nutrient to maintain muscle mass and support muscle tissue recovery from exercise. Maintaining a protein intake of around 1.4 - 2g per kg of body weight per day is ideal to support recovery and maintenance of muscle mass, for example someone who weighs 100kg should target a daily consumption of 140g - 200g of protein.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source and are an absolute must-have for those of us undertaking exercise.
As we have seen, losing weight safely is a balance between the calories we consume and the calories we burn. Therefore, if we plan to maintain balance in our sustained calorie deficit by exercising in tandem with regulating what we eat and drink, we need to fuel our exercise.
Alongside its role as fuel, fibre-rich carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, help to keep us feeling full for longer. Fibre is indigestible, so it takes longer to pass through our digestive systems, helping to maintain a feeling of fullness for longer.
Five Common Myths Around Nutrition for Weight Loss
Eating Carbohydrates Leads to Weight Gain
Eaten in the right quantities and as part of a balanced diet, carbohydrates do not lead to fat mass gain and more complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread and potato skins contribute to our daily intake of fibre, which can provide a feeling of fullness.
It must be noted that every gram of carbohydrate can hold onto roughly 3 grams of water which can often cause confusion to people trying to lose weight. Although reducing carbohydrates may cause the dial on the scales to go down faster in the initial stages this is not sustainable as this will likely be more water weight than fat mass. Plus the carbohydrates play a pivotal role especially if you are doing high intensity exercise.
Missing Meals is a Good Way to Lose Weight
There is no evidence that missing meals in an attempt to lose weight works. To lose weight in a sustainable way, we need to reduce the amount of calories we consume and increase the amount of calories we burn through exercise and physical activity.
Missing breakfast (or intermittent fasting) can work for some people to reduce kcal intake but for others it may lead to tiredness or impair exercise.
Some Foods Speed Up Metabolism and Lead to Weight Loss
Our metabolism is the chemical processes that go on continuously in our bodies to keep us alive and our organs functioning normally. These processes need energy and the amount required varies between all of us, depending on factors such as age, gender, body size and our genetics.
Some food and drink products claim they can increase the metabolism and therefore increase the amount of calories we burn and weight we lose. There is very little scientific evidence to support these claims. Buyer beware!
Eating Fat Makes Us Fat
Fat provides around nine calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates and protein provide four calories per gram each, however whilst having a diet based on unhealthy, high-calorie, high-fat fast foods will contribute to weight gain, it is inaccurate to say that fat alone leads to weight gain.
Some (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats, such as olive oil and oils found in nuts, seeds and fish, provide health benefits including lowering cholesterol
No Treats = Weight Loss
Whilst this is true in theory, the likelihood is if someone told us we could never eat pizza again, there would be an uprising in the DuelFuel office.
Taking our own advice, we don’t base our diet on the treats we like, but we do allow ourselves to enjoy them every now and then and you may want to do so too. If you’re anything like us, then depriving yourself of all the foods you enjoy could result in you giving in to temptation and giving up on your weight loss efforts
And what a great note to end on…
Enjoy your food. We can all achieve and maintain a sustained calorie deficit and still eat foods we enjoy. Doing so may mean smaller portion sizes or eating certain foods less frequently but remember, food is something we should all enjoy!