Is The Quality Of Food Important To Lose Weight?

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Is The Quality Of Food Important To Lose Weight?

Weight loss - common misconceptions in Australia

More Australians than ever before are overweight or obese, and the number is steadily rising. Around 75% of men and 60% of women are carrying too much body fat, and 25% of children are overweight or obese. Obesity-related disorders (such as coronary heart disease and diabetes) are also on the rise.

There is no magic weight loss potion.

There are numerous harmful misconceptions about weight loss. There are no magical foods or food combinations that will melt away excess body fat. Make small, manageable changes to your lifestyle to lose weight.

If you're overweight, the best way to lose and keep the weight off in the long run is to change your eating habits and increase your level of physical activity.

Understanding Food Energy

When we eat, our bodies receive various nutrients. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and energy from macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) are all part of this.

Alcohol also provides energy; however, because it is not required for survival, it is not classified as a true macronutrient.

Food Kcal

Calories Kcal are used in Australia to measure the amount of energy in a food or drink. (Calories (cal) is another unit of energy that is still used in some countries, including the United States.)

Each macronutrient provides a different amount of energy per gram:

  • Carbohydrate equals 16kJ.
  • Protein equals 17kJ.
  • Fat equals 37kJ.
  • Alcohol equals 29kJ.
Fat and alcohol provide significantly more energy per gram than protein and carbohydrates – a 35g slice of bread has about 360kJ of energy, whereas 35g of butter has 1062kJ of energy (nearly three times as much as the slice of bread!).

Energy requirements must be balanced.

Our energy requirements vary according to factors such as:

  • Age.
  • Body mass index.
  • Gender.
  • How involved you are.
  • Your ancestors.
  • Whether you're pregnant or nursing.

The most important thing is to eat a well-balanced diet (enough high-quality, nutrient-dense foods). It is also critical to limit the amount of energy dense, nutrient poor foods consumed in order to maintain a healthy weight. You will gain weight if you consume more energy (kilojoules) than you use, regardless of whether those kilojoules come from fats, carbohydrates, or proteins.

There are many common misconceptions about weight loss – let's dispel eight of them.

Carbohydrates do not cause weight gain.

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy. Eating a potato, a bowl of pasta, or any other carbohydrate-rich food will not make you fat. In fact, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that carbohydrates provide 45–65 percent of total energy requirements.

Keep an eye on your portion size and saturated fats.

If you're trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to be mindful of the portion size of foods you enjoy. A large serving of potatoes or pasta topped with high saturated fat butter, sour cream, or creamy sauces will not assist you in losing weight.

Similarly, in order to gain weight, you must consume more energy than your body requires on a regular basis. High-carbohydrate foods contain roughly half the energy of high-fat foods. Wholegrain options are preferable when it comes to high-carbohydrate foods like grains and cereals. They will provide you with fiber as well as additional health benefits.

Risks of low-carbohydrate diets

Low carbohydrate diets come in a variety of flavors, including Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, and Keto. All of these diets limit carbohydrate consumption in order to force the body to use protein and fat for fuel. Very low carbohydrate diets can result in greater weight loss than high carbohydrate diets in the short term. However, the differences in weight loss appear to be minor in the long run.

Very low carbohydrate diets can be harmful because carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for our bodies to function properly (especially the brain). When we limit our carbohydrate intake, our brain may become a little fuzzy, and we may experience more mood swings than usual. Furthermore, because we must process so much protein (far more than the 15–25 percent of energy recommended to reduce disease risk), these diets increase our risk of kidney problems.

Furthermore, by eliminating large groups of vegetables, fruits, and grains, these diets increase your risk of micronutrient deficiencies and constipation due to their low fibre content.

The dangers of the keto diet

While many low carbohydrate diets focus on protein for energy, the Keto diet focuses on fat for fuel, contributing up to 90% of energy from fats (rather than the recommended 20–35% to reduce disease risk). This means that the liver must process extra fat, which may aggravate an existing liver problem.

Furthermore, the high levels of saturated fat found in Keto diets increase the risk of elevated "bad" LDL cholesterol and heart disease. Because the long-term safety of these diets is unknown, consult your doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietitian as there is most likely a safer and more sustainable way for you to lose weight.

Diets based solely on one food do not work.

Many diets are based on the idea that the digestive system cannot process a particular combination of foods or nutrients. Carbohydrates (such as grain foods) and proteins (such as meat foods) are frequently mistakenly thought to 'clash,' resulting in digestive problems and weight gain.

The opposite is often true: eating foods together can benefit the digestive system. For example, vitamin C in orange juice can boost iron absorption from a meal high in plant-based iron, such as beans, rice, lentils, and other legumes.

Furthermore, very few foods are either purely carbohydrate or purely protein – the majority are a combination of the two. Because the digestive system contains enzymes that are perfectly capable of breaking down all of the foods we eat, single food diets are unnecessary.

Weight loss cannot be aided by superfoods.

Some foods, such as grapefruit, celery, and kelp, are thought to help us lose weight; for example, grapefruit, celery, and kelp are thought to burn fat or speed up metabolism. But this is not the case.

Fibre from food is the closest thing to having special dietary qualities because it gives you a feeling of 'fullness' while only consuming a few kilojoules. Fruits and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, and legumes are high in fiber and low in unhealthy fats.

The term "superfood" is frequently used, but there is no universal definition of what constitutes a superfood. The majority of superfoods are plant-based, such as acai berries, wheatgrass, spirulina, salmon, leafy greens, tea, and turmeric. Despite being high in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), they have little nutritional value.

There's nothing wrong with including these foods as part of a healthy diet if you enjoy them and can afford them. But don't expect to get a lot of health benefits from eating a couple of these in addition to a poor diet. Your overall dietary pattern has the greatest influence on your health.

You will not lose weight by skipping meals.

It sounds simple enough – don't eat and you'll lose weight – but skipping meals can backfire. Not only will you feel tired and lethargic if you starve yourself, but your body will also be more likely to miss out on essential nutrients. When you finally do eat, you're more likely to overeat and make poor food choices. Skipping meals is unlikely to help with weight loss in the long run.

The key to losing and keeping weight off is to make small, manageable changes to your eating and exercise habits:

  • Every day, you can choose from a wide variety of foods.
  • Consume fewer processed foods.
  • Maintain a consistent eating pattern.
  • Increase the amount of time you spend moving each day.

Intermittent fasting 

Various religions have practiced intermittent fasting for centuries. Fasting has gained popularity with the 5:2 diet, in which people eat their regular diet for five days and a very low energy diet for the remaining two days.

Intermittent fasting comes in many forms, with some preferring to restrict energy on alternate days, alternate weeks, or specific times of the day. (For example, a 16:8 plan entails fasting for 16 hours and eating for the remaining 8 hours.) Although this is referred to as 'time restricted feeding,' it is still a form of intermittent fasting.) Fasting from your last meal of the day until your first meal of the next day is a type of intermittent fasting (break-fast!).

Evidence suggests that there is no difference in the amount of weight lost when a fasting diet is followed versus a traditional energy restriction diet. As with any diet, being able to stick to it is essential for losing and maintaining weight loss. If you don't think you'll be able to stick to a strict intermittent fasting schedule for a long time, this may not be the best way to lose weight.

Eliminating foods will not lead to weight loss

Eliminating entire food groups from your diet will not help you lose weight.

Unless you dislike a particular food or choose to be vegetarian or vegan for cultural, ethical, or other reasons, avoiding animal products will not help you lose weight. This is due to the fact that you would need to reduce your overall number of kilojoules (energy) – just like a diet that includes animal products.

According to some studies, a healthy vegetarian dietary pattern, or a diet that is primarily plant-based, is associated with lower levels of obesity and a lower risk of health problems (such as elevated blood pressure and heart disease). However, there are many vegetarian food options that can cause weight gain, especially if they are high in fats and added sugars or if consumed in large quantities.

Gluten-free diets are only recommended for people who have coeliac disease or are gluten sensitive. If you haven't been diagnosed with one of these conditions by a doctor, there's no need to follow a gluten-free diet. As a result, you may be missing out on many of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in grains. And, if you choose overly processed foods simply because they are labeled "gluten-free," you may gain weight, especially if they lack fibre to fill you up.

Many drinks contribute to weight gain

To avoid dehydration, we need to drink fluids, and water is the best option. It also lacks kilojoules (energy), unlike many other drinks. Plain milk is another excellent option because it contains numerous nutrients as well as energy.

Most other beverages provide extra energy (usually from added sugars) but lack the health benefits of other nutrients. These are some examples:

  • Slushies and soft drinks
  • Alcohol.
  • Sports beverages.
  • Milks with flavors
  • Iced teas in a can.
  • Full cream milk and flavoring syrup are used to make this coffee.

And if the energy in drinks is not used by our bodies, it is stored as fat. There's nothing wrong with having these drinks as part of a balanced diet on occasion, but the amount you have makes a big difference. As an example:

  • Reducing daily cola consumption from two 600mL bottles (2088kJ) to one 200mL mini can (348kJ) equals 25 teaspoons less added sugar.

Over the course of a year, this small change could result in a weight loss of more than 17kg.

Alcohol has almost as much energy as fat

Alcohol is devoid of nutrients and contains nearly as much energy as fat (almost double carbohydrates and protein).

One'standard' drink has 10g of alcohol in it (or 290kJ). The size of a'standard' drink, on the other hand, can vary not only by alcohol percentage, but also by energy content – for example, a shot of alcohol mixed with tonic water or lemonade. In addition, when we drink alcohol, our inhibitions are lower, making it more likely that we will crave less healthy foods.

‘Clean’, raw or organic foods is not the solution to weight loss 

Foods labeled "clean," "raw," or "organic" may or may not be nutritious. There are advantages to eating foods that have been minimally processed. However, if you eliminate whole food groups from your diet, you will be missing out on many other nutritious foods.

Be wary of products labeled as organic. Although they may have been produced organically, this does not guarantee that they are a food that should be consumed on a regular basis as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Science matters when it comes to weight loss 

There is an abundance of information available on food, diet, and weight loss, but not all of it is credible or correct. Popular media is full of celebrity-endorsed fad diets and magical weight loss potions backed up by personal success stories.

Much of what is claimed is based on anecdotal evidence rather than scientific evidence, and many times the person or organization making the claim stands to gain something (such as profit from sales). When it comes to nutrition and health, it appears that everyone is an expert, in contrast to other fields where experts are trusted.

While it is true that we are all unique and that what works for one person may not work for another, proper scientific studies include a diverse range of people.

The key to weight loss

Slowly losing weight by making small, manageable changes to your eating and exercise habits is the best way to lose weight. Rather than being a slave to the number on the scales, let your waist circumference guide you – a healthy waist circumference for men is less than 94 cm and less than 80 cm for women.

Suggestions for weight loss that is both safe and effective include:

  • Don't do a crash diet. You will most likely regain the weight you lost within five years.
  • Be mindful of the portions you consume – the larger the serve, the more energy you consume. (This is especially true for energy-dense foods and beverages, such as those high in fat and alcohol.)
  • Reduce your intake of refined and added sugars.
  • Increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as wholegrain breads and cereals.
  • Sugary drinks and alcohol contain empty kilojoules that should be reduced or eliminated.
  • Reduce your intake of fast food and snacks.
  • On most days of the week, exercise for about 30 minutes. Increase the amount of movement in your day (such as a 30 minute walk).
  • Don't cut out any food groups. Instead, eat a variety of foods every day, focusing on 'whole', less-processed foods.
  • Maintain a consistent eating pattern and stick to it.

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