You need to eat less if you want to lose weight but are you sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need?
If you’re keen to lose weight, you need to keep a close eye on your diet. Unfortunately, most people who are on a diet plan, tend to consume the same types of food like lean protein and fibre, while leaving out those that are deemed ‘unhealthy’ such anything that contains even the tiniest amount of fat. The truth is, some diet plans may help you with weight loss but do not be provide the nutrition you need to stay healthy.
You should note that drastic changes to your diet may have adverse effects on your weight loss plan in the long term. In addition, an unhealthy diet plan can also affect your overall well-being, leaving you cranky, tired and probably starving too!
When it comes to getting the right nutrition while losing weight, you should bear in mind that everything should be consumed in moderation. Use the Malaysian food pyramid (please see Image 1) as a guide. You’ll have a better idea on ideal portion sizes you’ll be eating a variety of foods, which is crucial to achieving nutritional balance.
While there are no ‘one size fits all’ diet plans, your calorie intake depends very much on your weight loss goals. To help you get the right nutrition while you get trimmer, here are two general rules to keep in mind.
Rule #1 Eat foods that make you feel good
A big part of getting the right nutrition is to eat natural, unprocessed food. These types of foods don’t contain hidden ingredients and have higher amounts of nutrients, compared to processed foods. Here are some natural food sources that can provide the nutrients you need:
Meat such as lamb, beef or chicken should be part of your meal as these are great sources of protein. Protein, provide the building blocks of life, and take more time to digest. This means you’ll feel full for a longer period of time. If you’re a meat eater, opt for beef, lamb or chicken that have been naturally fed (grass feed and free range), as they are a healthier option. If you’re a vegetarian, you can opt for plant based protein sources such as tofu or lentils.
Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, fruits make tasty and refreshing snacks. Fructose, a natural source of sugar found in fruits, is a good source of energy for your body. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that fructose is unhealthy as it is often associated with synthetic fructose such as high-fructose corn syrup (found in sodas and ketchup) which is not a natural source of fructose. Stick to consuming natural fructose in moderation for maximum benefits.
Rich in fibre and nutrients, vegetables are essential for keeping your body healthy as they are known to reduce your risk of certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Aside from that, vegetables are effective at keeping you feeling sated. Consuming vegetables will also help you to prevent constipation.
When eaten in moderation, natural and full-fat dairy is a good source of healthy fats. Healthy fats are a major fuel source for your body and can aid in nutrient absorption — especially antioxidants and vitamins A, D, E and K. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are also rich in calcium, which is crucial for strong bones and teeth. To enjoy the full benefits of dairy, be sure to opt for natural sources which are not processed under Ultra High Temperature (UHT) as this may affect the nutritional value of some dairy products.
Grains such as rice, bread and cereals will give you energy. However, it is important for you to be mindful of the amount of grains you consume in a day, as they are generally high in carbohydrates. Also, it is best to avoid refined grains and consume healthier ones, such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal and barley.
Rule #2 Avoid foods that make you feel awful
A word of caution, the foods that fall under this category can also be found in some of your favourite snacks. They may be difficult to part with but it’s best to avoid them. If you simply can’t resist, have them as occasional treats.
Many types of foods that you’ll find on supermarket shelves contain added sugar. This makes them highly addictive and fattening. It is best to avoid sugar as it can cause diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Sugar can also come ‘disguised’ under another name such as corn syrup, glucose, fructose and sucrose.
Artificial sweeteners are no better than sugar! Despite being calorie-free, some studies have shown that there is a relation between artificial sweeteners and certain types of diseases, such as obesity, heart diseases and possibly cancer. If you must have a sweetener in your beverage, opt for natural ones, such as stevia or honey.
Sure, processed foods such as nuggets, sausages and biscuits are convenient and tasty. However, they also contain lower amounts of protein or fibre, a higher amount of preservatives and very high levels of sodium. If you read the ingredients on the labels of processed foods, you’ll realise that almost all of them contain synthetic and artificial ingredients, which have been linked to a series of serious health issues including obesity, cancer and diabetes.
When you’re on a weight loss regime, foods labelled with the words ‘diet’ or ‘low-fat’ seem to fit perfectly with your plan. However, there’s more tho this than meets the eye. These foods tend to be highly processed and may contain other unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar or artificial sweeteners and flavourings.
Another important factor to think of when pursuing a weight loss plan is to take note of your ideal calorie intake. Each individual may require a different amount of calories to function well, depending on certain factors such as your daily activities, health condition, gender and age. If you are experiencing sudden discomfort feeling tired all the time or if your diet plan is causing you to fall ill, be sure to seek immediate medical attention.
Remember, weight loss is not a short-term or “quick-fix” goal. Following a healthy weight loss plan requires discipline and dedication but there is no doubt that you will enjoy a positive outcome. You will be able to lose weight while maintaining a healthy balance between the amount of calories you eat, the nutrients you absorb and the exercises that you do.