Introduction-Weight Loss Overview
Firstly, by weight loss we mean lose body fat. This is a favourable change in body composition as opposed to an unfavourable, where you may lose muscle (key for things like glucose uptake and healthy functioning throughout life).
Ultimately, weight loss comes as a result of an energy deficit. This means energy in < energy out. BUT, this must be taken in CONTEXT. You cannot just stop eating and exercise, the body requires full to function, maintain muscle mass and actually is able to achieve all of this at a higher energy balance, therefore maintaining a good level of energy intake and increasing exercise is the key to favourable body composition changes.
Weight Loss Diet Tips
1. Increase your protein intake
Protein has many benefits, and should be the centre of any diet whether it is that you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle. Protein allows the body to recover and ensure that it isn’t breaking its muscles down, ultimately if your muscle mass is higher your body fat % is going to be lower.
Women often ask me, “Won’t I get fat or bulky if I eat protein?” No! Firstly, it is very difficult for protein to be stored as fat, compared to carbohydrates anyway and secondly muscle takes a long time to build, especially as a woman who has significantly less growth hormones compared to their male counterparts.
Recently, research has highlighted the role that protein has in satiation (staying full) and appetite control. A recent review (below) highlighted the positive effect a higher protein intake has on several factors including: appetite control, satiation, body mass measurements and cardio metabolic disease risk.
Aim to consume protein regularly throughout the day, breakfast, lunch and dinner with some protein in your snacks. As a general guide eat 2g/kg but new research from Stu Phillips lab in Canada is showing that a higher intake whilst in an energy deficit may be beneficial for favourable body composition changes. Some protein sources are listed below.
- Lean meat <5g fat per 100g
- Whey protein
- Beans & Legumes
- Cottage cheese
2. Don’t be scared of fats
There are several types of fats and some that you SHOULD be scared of. Trans fats come from processed and fast foods and should be avoided at all costs. Studies show a strong link between these fats and coronary heart disease and some cancers.
However, some fats are good for you and actually help you increase your fat burning capacity. Polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats (in moderation) are essential for hormone production and intake of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for optimal health (see review below). Several studies have highlighted the importance and reduced risk factors of several diseases including 50% reduced risk of coronary heart disease, increase bone health, increased insulin sensitivity and many more if you have a high omega 3 intake.
Consume omega 3 fatty acids by eating oily fish or a supplement. The supplement is great as it will also give you your daily recommended allowance of vitamin D, a vitamin many people are deficient in!
However, if you are trying to lose body fat you should be careful of how much fat you consume. Fat is calorie dense (despite the health benefits), so eat 50-70g for women and 60-80g for men, but this is subjective as weight, diet and activity levels need to be taken into account. Eat your fat in the form of nuts, coconut oil, avocado, grass fed butter, oily fish, whole eggs, chia seeds, fat containing yoghurts and full fat milk. Head over to the Daily Council for loads of information about the benefits of dairy products www.milk.co.uk
3. Eat green vegetables
Green vegetables should be included in all diets. They are fibrous, meaning they fill you up (without the added calories) and boast a dense anti-oxidant and vitamin content, both are great for your health.
Free radicals damage our bodies and anti-oxidants help balance this out by destroying them. They have an impact on many cells within the body including polyunsaturated fats previously discussed as being important for optimal health.
4. Switch to fibrous, low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates
Consume low GI carbohydrates (complex/fibrous) throughout the day, they increase satiety and have shown to aid weight loss compared to high GI (sugary) carbohydrates. Examples of low GI carbohydrates are below.
- Bulgar wheat
- Cous cous
- Wholemeal rice
- Wholemeal pasta
- Sweet potato
- Low sugar greek yoghurt
5. Drink Coffee
One small cup of coffee contains approximately 180mg caffeine. Caffeine, with creatine, is the most research supplement and probably most proven as well. Caffeine improves concentration, cognitive performance and increase fat oxidation as it liberates fat to be used as energy.
Research goes decades back proving the effectiveness of caffeine, with it being banned by WADA subsequently until 2004 when it was taken off the banned list.
With caffeine’s proven effects on lipolysis (fat burning) and the increased energy you receive from it, have it before training and in the morning to increase your metabolic rate. BUT, avoid red bulls or energy drinks; they contain a lot of sugar!