Whether you are looking to shed a couple of pounds or a substantial portion of weight, the sheer amount of information on weight loss that is available online, in magazines and within grocery shops, can be overwhelming. This article aims to act as an introductory guide for healthy weight loss by minimizing the jargon and offering a few pointers to help you get started.
Our initial premise isn’t exactly sexy, and won’t be winning us any marketing awards for its catchy wording, but weight loss and gain ultimately depends on our calories in vs. our calories out. The more calories we consume, the more we need to exercise in order to burn off those calories. It is widely recognised that the daily recommended intake for women sits at around 2,000kcal, and 2,500kcal for men. But these values can vary depending on age, metabolism and physical activity.
In order to undergo effective, healthy and sustainable weight loss, it is important to first understand the body. Whilst our basic biology stays the same, we are all a little different when it comes to our needs. For some, a diet that focuses on reducing the number of complex carbohydrates results in effective weight loss, but for others it can have the opposite effect. And when we start to dig a little deeper into the more popular diets out there (Paleo, Raw Food, Ketogenic, Atkins, Zone, …) we often have to purchase special books or subscriptions and learn new vocabulary – almost a new language – before we can get anywhere.
It is also important to note that your weight is not a direct indicator of health. Many refer to their BMI (Body Mass Index) to determine whether they are at a healthy weight, which estimates fatness based on an individual’s weight and height. A BMI that sits between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. However, BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle; muscle is 18% denser than fat and bone is denser than both fat and muscle. So having strong bones and muscles may label you as ‘overweight’ by BMI standards. It also cannot distinguish between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.
For so many, dieting is an infinite rabbit hole filled with endless online health coaches offering conflicting opinions, advice and recommendations on the ideal weight loss programme. In reality, what is truly needed is a strategy that works with the individual in mind, offering sustainable, long-term results and not compromising a person’s happiness and wellbeing. It may sound like a cliché, but moderation really is key. Flooding your diet with healthy, whole foods whilst ensuring that you are not depriving yourself fully will make the process a more enjoyable one. The occasional cheat meal or lazy day will not undo all your hard work, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Life is for living, and the journey should be valued just as much – if not more – than the outcome.
5 Simple Steps for Healthy Weight Loss
- Get to know you: Take the time to understand what works well for your body and what doesn’t. This may include replacing certain foods with others to reduce bloating and improve energy levels. It is also highly advisable to visit a licensed nutritionist before beginning your weight loss journey.
- Eat the rainbow: Aim for 10 portions of fruits and vegetables each day, but be mindful of your fruit consumption due to its sugar content.
- Plants over Animals: Meat, while tasty, is unnecessary and doesn’t offer substantial health benefits. If you are in a position to do so, reduce your meat consumption by finding healthy delicious alternatives made from tofu, beans and legumes.
- Hydration Matters: Ensure you are drinking enough water each day by tracking your consumption through a reusable water bottle. Starting your day with a large glass of cold water is also the best way to kickstart your metabolism.
- Get Active: No matter your age, ability or interests, make sure you take the time each day to exercise. Embrace being active by running, walking, cycling, stretching or gardening. Exercising for 40 minutes a day will strengthen the body and improve mood.
Finally, try not to compare yourself to others. Whilst the internet offers us a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it also causes us to constantly measure ourselves against our perceived ‘ideal’. Instead of bombarding your mind with everything you feel you aren’t, take the time to appreciate your uniqueness and your own journey. Because chances are you are more marvelous than you know.