Weight loss does not have to be complicated. However, you do need to be strategic, knowledgeable, and conscious of eating right for weight loss. Most of all, understanding calories and how they affect your body is very important. If the main goal is to lose weight, eating unlimited calories will simply not work. It is vital that you pick foods that will sustain your body, and ensure that you are eating the right calories. Thus, incorporating quality calories to your diet through proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber will be the key to success.
Calories for Weight Loss vs. Weight Maintenance
First, the number of calories you consume during weight loss will be different from the calories you consume during weight maintenance. Keep in mind that these are simply guidelines. Furthermore, they will vary depending on a number of factors: genetics, activity level, stress level, water intake, age, sleep quality, etc. However, it is a great tool to use to help shed the pounds and become a more mindful eater.
- Weight Loss: 1,300 – 1,700 calories
- Weight Maintenance: 1,600 – 2,000 calories
- Weight Loss: 1,700 – 2,000 calories
- Weight Maintenance: 1,600 – 2,000 calories
If you are truly serious about losing the weight, then you will need to cut calories. Cutting calories doesn’t mean skipping meals, feeling hungry, or having less energy. Consequently, it does mean choosing quality calories that are both beneficial to your overall health and weight loss goals.
Right Calories for Weight Loss – Choosing QUALITY CALORIES
Proteins are important to our diets because they are in charge of the building, maintaining, and repairing tissues in our body. Furthermore, proteins are very useful for a healthy physique and for weight loss. Consuming high-protein foods will help you feel fuller longer. As a result, they can help control those “snacky” tendencies we fall for all the time. However, not all proteins are created equally. There are certain proteins that can cause harm and increase certain health risks.
Consequently, try to avoid eating processed proteins like hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, fried chicken or fish, processed cheeses, and bacon. These proteins have added sugars, excess sodium, and unhealthy saturated fats. So, making these products part of your normal diet will not only impede your weight loss improvements but can also cause certain health risks.
Some powerful proteins that have quality calories are fish and seafood, skinless chicken and turkey, lean ground turkey and beef, beans, nuts, natural nut butter, greek yogurt, whole eggs, and cottage cheese.
Most diets nowadays promote low-carb meal plans which limit almost all of my favorite foods. Growing up in a Filipino household white rice was part of every single meal, every single day. I also love pasta, bread, bread pudding, cookies, cake, desserts and every carb in between. Inevitably, carbohydrates became my Achilles heel in my weight loss journey. While there are certain carbs that should be avoided or limited, I have learned that completely cutting out carbs is both misguided and perhaps unrealistic.
As a foodie, I have made strategic changes in my carb intake that has allowed me to indulge at times without feeling guilty and without feeling it on the scales. I have made a conscious effort to limit the following foods in my diet: soda, sugared cereals, sweet and creamy coffee drinks, overly sweet and processed desserts, white rice, white bread, processed snacks like chips, and sweetened juices.
Hence, most of my carbohydrates now come from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Try to focus on whole grain pasta and bread, quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brown rice, bananas, green peas, and oatmeal.
The word fat can understandably be scary when anyone is trying to lose weight. Why eat fats if you want to get rid of your fat? In fact, healthy fats are very important if you want to shed that excess body fat. There are three types of fats: trans fats, saturated fats, and unsaturated fats.
A. Trans Fats – Avoid them
Trans fats are created through a process called hydrogenation (turns healthy fats into solids). Eating foods that are high in trans fats like margarine, packaged snack foods, and fried foods can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol, and diabetes. Avoid foods that have hydrogenated oil listed in their ingredients to help limit trans fats in your diet.
B. Saturated Fats – Ok sometimes, keeping balance in mind
Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature and eating excessive amounts of saturated fats may cause high cholesterol. Try to avoid foods that have large amounts of saturated fats like butter, cheese, whole milk, red meat, fattier cuts of meat, ice cream, bacon, pre-packaged baked goods, and processed foods. It is okay to eat saturated fats sometimes. In any case, make sure to balance it with fresh fruits and vegetables.
C. Unsaturated Fats – Good for you
Finally, the good fats – unsaturated fats. At room temperature, most unsaturated fats are liquid. These good fats mainly come from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. There are 2 types of unsaturated fats:
- Monosaturated Fats
Monosaturated fats are found in olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, nuts, and avocados. Despite having a high-fat diet, people who adopt a Mediterranean diet (high usage of olive oil) have a very low rate of heart disease. This is a stark contrast to countries with high usage rates of animal fats that are connected to higher rates of heart disease.
- Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. Thus, they are required to build cell membranes, blood clotting, and muscle movement. There are two main polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega fatty acids can help reduce cholesterol, lower triglycerides (makes up body fat), decrease blood pressure, and prevent heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds. While Omega-6 fatty acid foods include vegetable oils (safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn).
Incorporating fiber into your diet has a ton of benefits. First, it can help control cholesterol, provide healthy digestion, and lower heart disease and diabetes. Fiber also provides great calories for weight loss since they make you feel fuller faster. You can easily increase your fiber intake by eating more barley, leafy greens, quinoa, flaxseeds, bran, avocados, black beans, lentils, almonds, and broccoli.
Eating Right for Weight Loss
Remember, eating right for weight loss and for the overall improvement of your health is vital. A balanced diet including quality calories of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber is an absolute must. Be patient and allow your body to heal and re-energize, and the results will amaze you.