Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Weight Loss
1. Do not drink your calories!
Here we are referring to fruit juices, pops, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages. There has been a lot of evidence to support that the brain processes liquid calories differently in the body than consuming solid foods. The act of chewing triggers satiety signals in the brain. Apple juice is high in sugar containing calories and lacks fiber (which mostly comes from its peel). When you drink apple juice you most likely will not feel full after an 8oz glass. This will lead to the consumption of either more liquid or solid foods. Studies show that people consuming sugary beverages don’t compensate this high caloric intake by eating less food.
2. Follow the 1 in 10 rule
If you are one to purchase packaged foods, focus on being a smart label reader – it may save you thousands of unnecessary calories! When reading the labels look for carbohydrates per serving. For every 10g of carbs listed make sure that there is at least 1g fibre. The reason for this 10:1 ratio is it mimics the ratio of an unprocessed whole grain – or natural food. After studying many different grain products the foods that contained the ratio of at least 10:1 (carbs:fibre) had less sugar, sodium, and trans fats than those that did not reach the requirement.
3. Avoid combining sugar and fat with a meal
Fat takes longer for our bodies to digest. If you eat a meal with both fat and sugar, the fat will slow down the stomach from emptying into the small intestines. Sugar however breaks down quickly in the stomach and will start to ferment due to the delayed stomach emptying. This can cause a build of gas and stomach acid leading to stomachache, bloating, heartburn, flatulence, and can also throw off your healthy gut flora (the good bacteria in your intestines).
4. Always have a green, orange or red on your plate
The more colour on a plate, the more energy you will receive! If you focus on having a vegetable or fruit component at each meal you are ensuring that a part of your plate will be filled with nutrient dense foods. This helps to crowd out the space of calorie dense foods. Specifically, you want vegetables to take up ½ your plate at lunch and dinner. Vegetables help to keep you full due to their water, fibre, and vitamin/mineral content. Colourful fruits and vegetables help to make your skin look vibrant, support healthy digestion, and increase energy levels in the body!
5. Drink more water – especially before a meal
First, drinking water can surprisingly boost your metabolism. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered that drinking water (about 17oz) can increase the metabolic rate in both men and women by 25-30%. This effect can occur within 10 minutes and last for about 30-40min after drinking.
Second, drinking ~500mL of water about a half hour before a meal can help fill your stomach and lead to you consuming less calories. Additionally, adding lemon to your water can enhance this effect as it aids in digestion and contains pectin fibre. When pectin fibre absorbs water it expands, distending the stomach, thus triggering receptors to send signals to the brain telling it your stomach is full.
6. Have healthy snacks ready to go
Sometimes we are running late or get stuck at work and are unable to cook with limited access to healthy options. Keeping healthy food nearby can help prevent you from skipping a meal completely, buying fast food, or grabbing a vending machine snack if you become excessively hungry. Try keeping easily portable and simple to prepare snacks on hand such as whole fruits, nuts and seeds, raw veggies (eg. baby carrots), and hard-boiled eggs.
7. Eat more fiber
Soluble fiber, such as glucomannan, mixes with water to form a viscous, gel-like substance. This will help make you feel fuller longer, and slows down how fast the stomach releases digested food into the gut. In addition, soluble fiber helps increase the variety of good gut bacteria in our digestive tract. Stduies show that having a greater variety is linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and belly fat!
8. Eat more slowly
Sometimes we eat in a hurry and gobble up our food as fast as we can. Eating fast does not allow enough time to send “full” signals to the brain, which can lead to overeating without even realizing. Taking smaller bites and chewing more mindfully will give your brain time to register that you’ve had enough to eat.
9. Quality over quantity
When the focus is on just restricting calories, there usually lacks a focus on the quality of foods. There’s a big difference between 2000 calories from a BigMac versus 2000 calories of fruits, nuts, and veggies. So when counting calories, use them wisely and fill them with whole, nutritious foods. This will not only ensure you’re getting a nutrient-rich diet, but will also allow you to actually eat MORE food, as if takes a lot more good foods to reach 2000 calories.
10. Don’t “diet” – eat healthy instead!
One of the biggest problems with weight loss is many people will try an extreme diet that likely just restricts calories and also does not suit their lifestyle and/or food preferences. This may work in the short-term, but rarely works long-term as the person is likely to feel deprived over time and also bored of the limited food options. This may lead to the “yo-yo effect” we hear so much about. A person may lose all this weight up front, but if it cannot be maintained in their every day lives, they will binge and put back on the weight, or even more than when they started!
Focus on nourishing your body, not depriving it. Instead of going on a diet, decide on making a healthy lifestyle change and make better choices with all the tips above. Aim to become a healthier, happier, and fitter person and weight loss will follow naturally.