by Justine Mae A. Membrido, RND
You've been thinking maybe of losing weight but there are some thoughts in your mind that hinder you to actually commit to your weight loss journey. Whether your reason for wanting to lose weight is because you want to improve your quality of life, wanting to be more confident with your skin, or by simply just wanting to improve your overall health, it's important to know the basics for a successful weight loss journey.
Today, we will be listing some thoughts in your mind you may have had in there for a while now. Hopefully, this article may help you clear it all up and will make you want to commit in your weight loss journey, finally.
1. “I’m getting fatter every day, I should lose some weight. I will go on a ‘diet’.”
You’ve probably heard yourself utter these words above for quite some time now. You may have realized this when you were looking at a mirror. Maybe suddenly bumped into a friend you haven’t seen in a while and said “Hey! Long-time no see! Have you been staying in the kitchen lately?” You then see yourself thinking about your physique and uttering these words afterwards. But did you know, you actually “diet” everyday?
Diet, as defined in Nutrition, “refers to food and drink regularly consumed according to a regimen of time and amount. It may be normal – meeting all the nutrients needed of a particular individual; or special – therapeutic, modified for some specific conditions.” (Jamorabo-Ruiz, Claudio, & de Castro, 2011) So yes, you basically “diet” everyday if you eat foods every day.
If you’re aiming for weight loss, there is diet is called “reducing diet”. A reducing diet is a special diet intended for people who want to lose weight. A caloric deficit of 500-1000 kilocalories worth of food items are removed in the diet to lose 1-2 lbs. per week. This is the range where most professionals agree to as “healthy weight loss.” The diet should be nutritionally adequate except for energy, which is decreased to the point at which fat stores must be mobilized to meet the individual’s daily energy needs.
2. “I want to lose some weight is it possible to have no carbs in my meals?”
Nope. You certainly cannot have a no-carb diet. Carbohydrates are certainly the reason why you are fueled up to continue with your daily routine. Carbohydrates can be found in most fruits, vegetables, and milk as simple sugars; and those found in starchy vegetables and grains are called complex carbohydrates which contains fiber. Fiber helps improve overall digestive health and increases satiety.
Carbohydrate found in above mentioned items are broken down in your body into glucose, also called blood sugar. Which is then used as energy. Glucose is the preferred energy source for brain cells, other nerve cells, and developing red blood cells.
If you are still thinking about going on a no-carb diet, your body will still need to create glucose to fuel your body up. Your body will end up using all your glucose stores in the liver and once they are totally depleted, your body will then find another source of glucose. The body will use protein as a source of energy. This process is called gluconeogenesis. Of course you wouldn’t want to use protein as a main source of energy because what about your muscles or the build-up and repair of your body tissues or the regulation of body processes? Who will do that in replacement with protein?
But if that doesn’t convince you to thinking twice about your no-carb diet, your body will still continuously find a source to fuel you up. Fat is another nutrient that will be source of energy. Your brain will send signals to your fat tissues which will then process and breakdown fat to eventually having some energy for your body. Although fat provides energy during a fast, it can provide very little glucose to give energy to the brain and nerves. Thus, needing your lean tissues to obtain some energy because the brain, nerves, and red blood cells still need glucose. For a longer time of starvation from glucose, your body will metabolize ketone bodies from fat. However, ketone bodies cannot be used for a longer period of time. And if too much ketone bodies are in the blood, this needs to be excreted through urine and a very visible sign of ketones would be the development of a fruity odor on the breath.
So yes, basically you need carbohydrates in order to keep your body processes to go on smoothly and to provide energy for your brain which you will be then needing on a daily basis to function properly.
3. “I will skip some meals so I will eat a little less to lose weight.”
No. That does not actually happen in real life. Those who tend to skip meals usually eats more than what should be eaten. Those who also tend to have longer gap between meals will also feel more hungrier than they should be.
When you skip a meal, your body will be in starvation, needing and craving for more food to be converted to glucose. The body will not let your cells starve thus, finding other stores to convert to energy. This will highly affect your functions. You will be lethargic, uncomfortable, and irritable. Moreover, brain functions is highly affected as brain continuously craves for glucose. Once your hormones signal that you are hungry, you will have the tendency to eat more and when excessive eating happens, you will then gain weight.
It is important not to skip any meal, especially breakfast. They say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” True enough, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. At night, when asleep, our bodies still uses energy. It uses the glucose stores in our liver. When you wake up, you will eventually need more glucose to get through the day. Breakfast helps you break the fast you were in overnight and it will produce more energy you need for the day. Best to opt for breakfast that provides both the calories and all the other nutrients you need. Items higher in fiber is also recommended as fiber induces satiety, thus keeping you full for a longer period of time. It is also recommended to eat small frequent meals than to skip meals as you will be able to train your body when to signal that you are already hungry.
4. “I only need the right diet and exercise to lose weight.”
No. Those are not the only two things you will take in consideration when losing weight. Yes, those are the ones you really have to exert more effort on but there are also other important factors you need to take in consideration when losing weight. They will be listed down below.
Sleep. Yes, sleep contributes a lot to your weightloss journey. One who lacks sleep may have altered metabolism, eating habits, and eating patterns. When you are awake for a longer period of time you will tend to eat more because you will feel more hungry as time pass by. Food selection and eating behavior will also change because when you try to keep yourself awake for a longer period of time, there is a higher tendency to choose items higher in calories but lower in nutritional value causing to eat more and gain more weight. And since you’ve been eating a lot but does not have enough sleep, you will also be most likely to exercise and do less vigorous activity due to waning energy. So you better get that good night sleep at night for your weight loss regimen to be effective. TIP: If not possible to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night, when hungry, chose items low in calories but high in nutritional value and of course fiber such as fruits and salads to get that energy, nutritional value, and less chances of being hungry again after an hour or so.
Fluid. Adequate fluid intake is very important in weight loss. Fluids (water especially) assists the body in excretion of wastes. Fluid intake when feeling hungry is equally important as the feeling of being hungry might not be a sign that you are really hungry but just thirsty. This is important so you would know if you would just need water or need to eat foods. It is also important to drink fluids within a meal as it increases sense of fullness thus eating less and hydrating more. It has been said that drinking 6-8 glasses should be enough to be hydrated the whole day. This is the average amount but fluid intake should be based on height and weight as well. The best estimate for your fluid intake should be 1 mL per 1 kcal.
5. “In weight loss you need to cut drastically on everything junk especially on alcohol.”
Let’s face it, for most of us, we looooooove drinking. It’s a great way to catch up with friends and also meet new people. It has been believed that when you are on that weightloss program, you have to cut on everything junk and of course on alcohol because they say, alcohol will make you fat. Alcohol will not make you fat, well, not unless taken on an excessive amount daily.
Alcohol provides about 7 kcal per gram. What actually makes you fat is when alcohol is mixed to become cocktails. Added sugar in your favorite drink adds more calories on top of the calories in the alcohol itself. When you intake alcohol there is a signal within your body which prioritizes to consume energy from alcohol more than anything else. When this happens, all the excessive calories from other sources such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, will be stored in your body. When taken in excess, more excess calories not from alcohol will then be converted to fat thus, more fat deposited to your body which you will not call as “beer belly”.
When drinking is really inevitable, just make sure to keep it at moderation. 1 drink for women and up to 2 for men a day is actually good for you given all the other benefits of alcohol in the body. So yes, you still can drink even if trying to lose weight. Also, best to choose fruit juices over club sodas as mixers. Also avoid salty snacks when drinking as this will make you crave for more. And last tip, do not forget to drink water every once in a while when drinking as water helps you to feel more full thus drinking less.
All the above mentioned details just leads us to the key when losing weight. Most dietitians will say to you the same thing over and over again. Do not forget your MBV - Moderation, Balance, and Variety. There is no one food that can give you all nutrients that your body needs. There is no good or bad food, you can eat anything you like in moderation as long as it provides you the nutrients you need. No too much or too little of anything, refer to the food pyramid according to age group to know your requirement. Keep everything balanced. Eat a variety of foods from different food groups to obtain all the energy and nutrients needed by your body. And of course do not forget to hydrate yourself.
Justine a.k.a Paleo Manila®'s 'Millennial Tita'. She studied in University of the Philippines Los Baños with a degree of BS Nutrition. Right now, she's enjoying her work as a Customer Experience Officer (not to mention enjoys bullying our Executive Chef and Assistant HR Officer occasionally) in Paleo Manila as she gets to give pieces of nutrition advice to lots of people. She is really passionate about educating people about nutrition so years from now, she is aiming to take up public medicine. She dreams to be a catalyst of a improving the nutrition education in the Philippines for healthier Filipino community— while being the fab tita she is destined to be.
Jamorabo-Ruiz, A., Claudio, V., & de Castro, E. 2011. Medical Nutrition Therapy for Filipinos. Manila, PH: Merriam-Webster Bookstore.
Rolfes, S. R., Pinna, K., & Whitney, E. N. (2009). Understanding normal and clinical nutrition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.