As a registered dietitian and group fitness instructor, I would say people most commonly ask me for weight loss advice. In fact, a recent study indicates that 55% of Americans attempt to lose weight at least once a year! Even more shocking, in 2012, Americans spent over $60 billion on weight loss plans and products alone. Having read many books and articles and asked people about what they are currently doing to try to lose weight, these are the three pieces of advice I find help most people.
1. My number one piece of advice: Eat more real food. Simple as that. Choose foods that are as unprocessed as possible. Most foods that come in a package fall into that category. Stock up on fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and natural (i.e. low sodium and no sugar added) nut butters, legumes, low-fat or fat-free dairy. Toss all of those 100 calorie pack snacks that were all the rage about five years ago, snack bars, breakfast pastries, boxed macaroni and cheese and so on. And those fat-free and sugar-free foods you think are doing you favors? Not so much – but this warrants a whole blog post on its own! Of course there is room for some processed foods in a healthy diet – after all, life is too short not to indulge in foods you love – but try to save them for special occasions as opposed to an every day food choice.
2. I always ask people if they are getting enough calories throughout the day. It’s a common tale: Dieters eat very “clean” and small meals throughout the day, and then come nighttime, find themselves in an all-out binge. Sound familiar? Dieters think there’s something inherently wrong with them and that they lack willpower, but this isn’t the case! In truth, they are simply setting themselves up for failure. When you don’t eat enough calories throughout the day, you are so hungry by the evening that you can’t help but scarf down everything that isn’t nailed down to the floor. Try eating a bit more throughout the day and see your hunger levels drop in the afternoon and evening. It will be easier to actually finish the day without feeling like a total dieting failure.
3. Lastly, are you eating enough fat? One of the absolutely worst pieces of advice given to dieters was to limit the amount of dietary fat consumed. Why was this recommended? Fat provides 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate. But there’s a large problem with this approach: Fat is necessary for providing insulation for your vital organs, is a component of every one of the cells of your body, and also allows for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K. Moreover, eating fat is important for dieters because it offers satiety. You can probably recall a time when you tried to limit your fat in an effort to cut your overall calories. What happened? You were hungry all of the time! Eating fat throughout the day will help keep hunger at bay and keep you from overeating. Healthy sources of fat include avocado, oils (I recommend olive, canola, and avocado for daily use and coconut oils every once in a while), and nuts and seeds. Fats to limit or avoid: butter, margarine (trans fat – the devil!), fatty meats, and lots of full fat cheese. Make sure that every meal and snack you eat has some source of healthy fat to keep you satisfied. Plus – fat makes food taste good!
This is advice I find myself giving out to many people on a regular basis, but as with all things health- and nutrition-related, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re interested in working with me one-on-one to help you reach your weight loss goals or with any other nutrition goal or question, please reach out!
Jess Edelglass is a registered dietitian providing nutrition counseling services and wellness talks. She works with clients of all ages and walks of life to discover how they can feel better than ever before by eating real, whole foods and getting rid of the dieting mentality. You can reach her via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 617.491.8989 ex. 218 or follow her on Instagram @JessTheFitNut.