For many of us, losing weight is frustrating and an enigma. This week we’ll discuss weight loss from the nutritional perspective including naming what is working for and against your progress. Heads up, it’s a lot more than just calories in vs calories out! CCHS can make it easy for you though.
What is working against you
80% of the 14 billion dollars that are spent on food advertising each year in America go towards junk foods. Those are sugary, heavily processed, or in other ways unhealthy snacks. These are primarily targeted at kids and people in low socioeconomic status. So not only do those with limited resources face a difficult time affording and accessing stigma free health and fitness resources, they are also targeting making successful interventions less likely.
Further, as seen in the resources linked above, foods with a high glycemic index (meaning they spike your blood sugar because they are simple sugars instead of complex carbohydrates) have been shown to reinforce a reward and craving system in your brain. In fact, simple sugars by many professionals are considered to be an addiction because of how quickly and how strongly your body responds to sugar.
As if that wasn’t enough, many of us resume our old eating habit when emotionally triggered. This means that when we feel stressed or are going through hard times, many of us turn to comfort foods to cope. While we all need to cope in our own way, and we should try our best not to judge each other when we do. I wont wait to suggest the good practice of becoming mindful of stressful emotions and find alternative forms of emotional expression to cope such as journalling instead of binging of that works for you. For other examples; talking about what you’re going through with a close friend, taking a walk, or choosing a somewhat healthy snack such as bell peppers and hummus or our cauliflower BBQ bites can mitigate the damage of stress eating. Just in case you don't already have a solid place to write...
Lastly, your exposure and access to health information can make a big difference. In one of the studies linked to above, it was shown that every time a group of people were exposed to nutritional information about what healthier food options were, they proceeded to make healthier choices. While that is not entirely surprising, this has big implications for those that have not been exposed to this information by association. It makes sense then that the eating and physical activity of children are highly correlated with that of their parents. If you are among this group, it is highly recommended that you take time to look at the guidelines listed above and learn a bit more about healthy food choices! In an age of misinformation and fads, it is especially encouraged to use google scholar and other trustworthy sources such as those listed above. So with all of that said, “what can I do?”
What you can do
First off, plan to combine both nutritional and physical activity. Almost all of those that succeed in losing and keeping off weight used a combination of both! At CCHS we use a combination of dietary interventions, exercise, and actually recruit information and action steps from 5 other “Pillars” of lifestyle heath as well because we understand how interrelated different area of your life are. In other words, if you want stigma free support, CCHS is here to promise support for you!
If you do decide to work for it alone, assuming you already have your why, motivation, and goals listed, the first step is to know what it is you need to do! The link above lists your recommended dietary intakes for males and females. TLDR; 2200 calories a day for guys and 1800 calories per day for girls on average. This said, not everyone is built the same and you should build the program to your needs!
It has to be sustainable… For you! If you hate brussel sprouts, don’t force yourself to eat them (or find a better way to make them)! It is for this reason that a deficit of 500-1000 calories per day is the recommended plan. It’s sustainable without decrements in physical (or mental) health! That adds up to 1-2 pounds lost per week.
Lastly, calories in does not always equal calories out. A calorie is not always a calorie. While each gram of food burned in a bomb calorimetry to measure the stored energy may be the same, this does not consider the effect a given food may have on your body. Your metabolism, or the amount of energy you naturally expend in a day, can vary widely based on body composition, sleep, physical activity levels, and food! If you starve yourself or overeat, your body can store or burn up to half of the difference by down-regulating or up-regulating your metabolism. In other words, you need to eat healthy and whole foods, sleep well, and remain active to keep your metabolism at normal levels while in a calorie deficit. This might not be surprising, but it is easier said than done!
There are many factors working against your proper nutritional intervention to lose weight. It begins with getting educated as to what is truly good for you (non-processed whole foods including fruits and veggies), and is successful when you make a plan that works for your life. If you want to learn more about nutrition, check out our other blog posts, social media videos, or feel free to schedule a session with our health coach (me)! I hope you enjoyed this and good luck as you Defy The Odds.