Foods that work for you
Nutrition is undoubtedly the biggest factor in losing weight. There is truth behind the saying:
"Weight Loss is 80% diet"
I'm often asked "what's the best weight loss food" or "Can I eat [X] and still lose weight?"
The good news is that there really is no such thing as a "perfect weight loss food." You can eat most foods and still lose weight; you just have to be smart about it.
Here are three tips for finding foods that will help you lose weight while also keeping your health and sanity.
Tip One: Choose Foods that are Low in Calorie Density
This first tip is a no-brainer, and you've probably seen this advice in every weight loss book and program you've read.
There is no denying the fact that you have to eat fewer calories to lose weight, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to eat foods that have a lower caloric density.
"Dude... what the heck does 'caloric density' mean?"
Calorie density refers to the average calories per weight (gram or ounce) of a particular food.
For example, things like oil and butter are going to have a much larger caloric density compared to something like Kale.
(Anatomically, this picture doesn't make a lick of sense. However, it does show how the amount and size of foods differ dramatically depending on their caloric density)
If you have read any of my other articles, then you already know how important I think whole foods are for losing weight. Part of the reason is that most whole foods naturally have a low caloric density.
Things like fruits and vegetables have a ton of volume for fewer calories.
Yes - there are whole foods like nuts, seeds, and fattier cuts of meat that have a higher caloric density, but those foods ALSO have a higher nutrient density - which leads me to my next tip...
(man... that segue was smooooooooooth )
Tip Two: Choose Foods That are High in Nutrient Density
While it's universally accepted that eating fewer calories is required to lose weight, the importance of nutrient density is still debated.
Nutrient density refers to foods that average amount of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) per weight of food.
Obviously, the top of the list includes fruits and vegetables, but things like grass-fed meat, organ meat, nuts, seeds, avocados, and eggs are also on the list.
People in the weight loss industry go back and forth about whether eating nutrient dense foods is necessary to lose weight.
Some say calories are everything while others say that nutrients are more important than actual calories...
Here's my personal opinion:
It's absolutely possible to lose weight eating less nutritious foods like Poptarts and Icecream.
When it comes to physical weight loss, calories in vs. calories out is king.
However, things like hormonal health and general well-being are going to be heavily influenced by how nutritious your diet is.
When you deprive your body of adequate vitamins and minerals, you run the risk of developing negative health side effects such as low testosterone, hypothyroidism, poor gut health, weakened immunity, etc.
I have experienced conditions like low testosterone and hypothyroidism that developed from chronically dieting and neglecting my body of nutrients.
These two conditions alone led to a host of other complications such as low sex drive, slow metabolism, depression, poor sleep quality, and constipation.
You know...pretty much everything that makes you feel human....
If you aren't eating fewer calories, you won't lose weight.
However, to ensure you don't experience negative health complications like the ones I listed above you need to be sure and get adequate nutrients as well.
This is why whole foods are so awesome - They allow you to naturally eat fewer calories while also providing you with adequate vitamins and minerals.
Tip Three: Don't Forget to Eat Foods You Actually Enjoy Too
There are a lot of dogmatic approaches towards nutrition and weight loss out there...
All of this "Eat This-Not That!" mumbo-jumbo creates unnecessary stress and anxiety for folks simply looking to lose excess fat.
While eating low calorie, high nutrient dense food is important, trying to eat a bunch of food you find repulsive is only going to stress you out.
It may even cause you to give up on your weight loss journey...
Yeah, it has a low-calorie density and a crazy high nutrient density, but not everyone is going to be all gung-ho about eating it every day.
Luckily, you can enjoy your diet while also ensuring you're eating few enough calories and getting adequate amounts of nutrients.
Here's how to do it:
1. Find Low Calorie/High Nutrient Foods You Enjoy
Just because you may not like kale doesn't mean you won't like other nutrient dense foods. There are hundreds of healthy whole foods you could choose from.
Find the ones you like and eat those. You should never eat food that you don't like.
It's completely possible to enjoy your diet while also eating foods that are healthy (aka high nutrient density).
2. Practice the 80/20 Principle
If you are too restrictive with your diet, you'll more than likely give into temptations that derail your weight loss progress.
This, in turn, could result in a cascade of negative outcomes such as depression, binge eating, or weight relapse.
With the 80/20 principle, you allow for a less dogmatic and more flexible approach with your diet and food choices.
Ensure that at least 80% of your diet is coming from whole foods that have a higher nutrient density.
If you do that, then the other 20% can come from more calorie dense foods such as ice cream, cake, cookies, or my personal favorite - Oreos
The 80/20 principle will allow for flexibility in your diet and will mak sticking to a healthier eating plan far easier over the long haul.
Nutrition plays a vital role in the success or failure of your diet.
It only makes sense that you align your diet strategy in a way that will help you lose weight and become healthier while also improving the enjoyment of your life!
If following a strict, dogmatic approach to nutrition has left you with nothing to show in terms of weight loss progress - you may want to rethink your plan.
Take ownership of your diet and utilize the three tips I shared in this article.
Firstly, ensure you are eating few enough calories for weight loss to happen. (here is a semi-accurate way to find out how many calories you should eat to lose weight)
Once you do that, find low-calorie, high-nutrient foods that you actually enjoy and make that 80% of your diet.
Fill the other 20% with higher calorie treats that keep you mentally sane.
When you make your diet work for you, losing weight starts to feel easier and intuitive rather than forced and miserable.