This is not another blog about what diet is best for weight loss and how long to diet for. That’s because any diet will work. As long as it puts you in a calorie deficit, then you will lose weight. The super duper important caveat here though is, that you have to stick to it for a reasonable amount of time for it to work.
Which begs the question, just how easy is it to follow your choice of diet so that you can stick to it indefinitely? That’s why I don’t talk about specially about dieting, I talk about healthy food habits and eating behaviours instead.
Examples of the type of diets I'm referring to are Weight Watchers, Slimming World, calorie counting, if it fits your macros, low carb, low fat, Paleo, grapefruit diet, alkaline diet, and detox diets to name but a few.
[Read more about what I think about detox diets here.]
While following (or at least trying to follow) the above type of diets, ask yourself the following:
Do you actually enjoy eating this way so it doesn't feel like a monumental effort for you?
Does it leave you feeling good and energized and not lethargic and drained or constipated?
Does it allow you to enjoy fun food from time to time so you don't feel starved or deprived?
Can you maintain this way of eating forever and turn it into a lifestyle (to be cliché about it)?
If you answered no to any of these, then you may want to rethink your choice of diet.
The commonality between most diets is calorie restriction. Eat fewer calories than you expending, et voila, weight loss. The more drastic the restriction, the quicker you will lose the weight, but the more unsustainable it will be.
Read that again.
The more drastic the restriction, the quicker you will lose the weight, but the more unsustainable it will be.
Restrictive type diets only work for the short time that you are following it. As soon as you resume your normal eating behaviours then you will more than likely regain the lost weight.
It’s a perpetual cycle of yo yo dieting, one which can leave you with a feeling of despair, guilt, and diminished self-worth.
Succeeding with your diet takes a truck load more than following a list of 'rules'. Instead we need to change our behaviours around food, our attitude towards food, and ultimately build a healthy relationship with all food.
With that said, here are my top tips for long lasting, sustainable, and (dare I say) enjoyable weight loss loss:
1. Zone into Your Zen
Become more mindful about how and why you eat, and use positive reinforcement to drive your food choices instead of the negative. Repeat after me:
I give up fear of failing my diet, I will accept when I have over indulged and then move on
I give up punishing myself over my food choices, I will be kind to myself regardless
I give up sabotaging my diet when I am upset, angry, or bored, I will confront my emotions instead of burying them in food
I give up exercising to burn off the Mars bar I just ate, I will exercise to get fit and strong
I give up striving for the perfect diet, I will have patience and strive for progress instead
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is important to help our bodies work at its best. A rough guideline to begin with is 3 litres for men and 2.5 litres for women. Nobody ever drinks enough water, so get it into you. Start by adding a glass of water first thing in the morning, and then adding in another glass before each meal. Invest in a fancy water bottle and carry it with you to remind you to drink more water. Add a fresh slice of lemon, lime, or cucumber for a twist. This simple change alone carries so many positives, so do not underestimate the power of hydration.
3. Ditch the Diet (Foods)
Lay off on “diet” and low calorie foods, meal replacement bars, shakes, and drinks, which are far less nutritious than you are led to believe. Instead go for regular ole food instead, bearing in mind that pre-packaged and frozen foods are handy too. Think vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, natural oils, dairy and whole-grains, most of the time.
4. Fuel up on Micronutrient Power
Try and include some vegetables (or fruit) with each meal. They are a pillar of health, high in fibre and low in calories. Eat the rainbow, the more colour variety the better to cover your vitamin and mineral needs.
5. Include More Protein