When you embark on a weight loss plan, you might feel it's going to be restrictive and complex – but it doesn't have to be the case. Tracking what you eat and counting calories is a simple way to start to change your diet. Nutracheck is about eating smarter, not necessarily less. Make good food choices to get quality calories in your diet, and follow the tips below to help you lose weight healthily and happily, without depriving yourself of food you enjoy!
Often people start out on a weight loss diet and think they should cut out bread, or even all starchy carbs – or perhaps their weekend takeaway treat. Well, I'm here to tell you that this isn't necessary for success – in fact it could even hinder your progress.
A weight loss message which is heavily centred around deprivation is rarely the key to success. This can lead to feelings of deprivation and simply make things too challenging and unsustainable. If you really enjoy bread, removing it from your diet is unlikely to be a great decision for your ongoing moral. Instead, consider how you can still include these foods in a healthy capacity and with portion control. Choose nutritious wholemeal bread that offers lots of fibre and aim to have it less frequently if you feel like you have more than you should sometimes. Ongoing balance is the key, not an extensive exclusions list.
Again, losing weight doesn't have to be all about deprivation. With the right food choices and swaps, it's actually possible to eat a higher volume of food and still lose weight. That's because filling up on nutritious foods with low energy density – such as fruits and vegetables – is a great way to fill yourself up and provide your body with key nutrients. Skipping meals and cutting down on food will likely lead to hunger and could also risk missing out on key nutrients such as protein, fibre and vitamins – all important for weight loss success, and health!
Rather than simply cutting down on foods, consider how you can make some healthy swaps and additions to up the nutrient profile of your meals. Switch out some meat for pulses in things like casseroles or Bolognese. Add an extra portion of vegetables to your dinner, while reducing the starchy carb portion a little. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast such as porridge topped with fruit, seeds and nut butter to stay fuller for longer – rather than choosing something like a pastry which may be as many calories, but won't have nearly the same nutritional benefit.
It's important to still eat the foods you enjoy the most, even if these are not the most nutritious. Cutting them out could lead you to feel too deprived and impact you emotionally. This is often why people give up on weight loss diets, as they just feel too restricted. Instead, make a conscious effort to have a little bit of chocolate each week and enjoy a glass or two of red wine. This is a lifestyle shift, not a temporary diet, so you need to make long-term changes and try to avoid quick fixes which you're unlikely to sustain. Of course, every now and then some of us like to challenge ourselves with a break from certain foods, and this is OK if it's just for a short period of time. But as a long-term goal, your favourite foods should still be making an appearance in your diet.
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail! When it comes to changing up our diet and lifestyle to make healthier choices, being prepared is hugely beneficial to our success. If you make a plan, for example planning out your weekly meals, you're far more likely to stick to this and make better choices. Choosing food on the go can lead you to make less desirable and considered choices.
Picture this, you're at work and it's getting to lunch time, but you've been super busy all morning so haven't eaten for a while and your hunger levels are really ramping up. If you planned in advance, you'll have a delicious and nutritious meal ready and waiting in the fridge, so you'll choose that without a second thought. But let's say you didn't prepare your food: you'll then head to the shops where your hunger levels could lead you to opt for something quick, easy and potentially high in calories. In this scenario it's easy to see how being prepared can have huge benefits!
We rarely lose weight in a perfectly linear fashion with no blips along the way. We're human and life rears it's head sometimes, plus our bodies are complex things. It's best to expect that occasions will crop up where you may have less control over food choices – and that's OK. Life has to continue while you lose weight, so ensuring you expect and plan for social occasions can help with keeping your motivation on track when they happen.
Similarly, weight loss rarely happens in a straight downward direction. While I appreciate it's disheartening when the scales don't go the way you'd expect, try to remember that fluctuations by even a few lbs are very normal and can even happen across the course of a single day. Try to remind yourself that it's the bigger picture over time that matters the most, so keep going, keep tracking and look back over your longer-term trendline, rather than focusing too hard on one day to the next.
If you can find an activity you genuinely enjoy, you'll be laughing all the way to the gym! While being active is a really important part of a healthy lifestyle, we don't have to force ourselves to do things we get no enjoyment from. Moving our body can be done in a multitude of ways, so try to find things that you genuinely get something out of. There are a huge variety of ways to get moving, so try to find activities that you genuinely get something out of. Do you really dislike running? Why not try dancing instead, or cycling, swimming, walking, cleaning, lifting weight...the options are endless!
Truth be told, exercise is quite a small part of the weight loss puzzle when it comes to creating a calorie deficit. What and how much we eat has a much bigger role to play. But where exercise does play a crucial role is in the effect it has on our mindset. Being active and showing up for yourself in that way can really help to keep you on track with your healthy eating choices and lifestyle changes – not to mention being more active can help us feel more positive which can lead to better choices all round. So try to find a way that you can be more active in your day-to-day, in a way you enjoy.
Finally, losing weight ultimately comes down to creating a calorie deficit and no matter how different approaches are packaged, this is what all weight loss diets come down to. And the best way to keep a track of your calories and nutrients? By keeping your food diary every day. Try to create the daily habit so that you never forget to log and you'll have the best picture of your long-term dietary habits to draw from.
The good news is Nutracheck makes it super easy to track your food, drink and exercise in as little as 10 minutes per day! For more on how the Nutracheck app keeps it simple and speedy, check out our blog 5 hacks to speed up diary entries.
Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.