NUTRITIONWeight loss

Weight loss

There are a multitude of diets intended for weight loss. Among the best known, we find the high protein diet, the mono diet or the low carbohydrate diets. However, despite achieving short-term weight loss goals, these diets do not offer lasting results. Indeed, the best diet for weight loss remains the combination of a diet with high nutritional value, regular physical activity and good mental health.

Characteristics of a balanced weight loss program:

  • Weight loss between 500g and 1kg per week
  • All food categories must be represented
  • Physical activity integrated into the program
  • Work on positive body image and self-acceptance
  • Should lead to healthy eating habits over the long term

The main principles of the diet

Any weight gain or loss is the consequence of a change in our calorie intake. To achieve what is called energy balance, you have to expend as much energy as you consume. Calories represent the energy value of food. The more calories the food has, the more energy we have to expend to compensate.

How does the weight loss diet work?

To lose weight, it is therefore necessary to create a negative balance, that is to say, to burn more energy than calories ingested. Losing 0.5 kg per week, a reasonable goal, is equivalent to expending 3,500 calories more than you consumed. This therefore implies a negative energy balance of 500 calories per day, which will be achieved by the combination of reasonable food restriction and regular physical activity.

Several factors can interfere with the variable of calories consumed. For example, it has been shown that the nutritional value of a food listed on the nutrition label can be 20 to 30% higher or lower. Can we really trust the nutrition label to calculate our calories? Also, the amount of energy a food contains in the form of calories is not necessarily the amount of energy we absorb, store and/or use. Indeed, we absorb less energy from carbohydrates and minimally processed fats because they are more difficult to digest. It is therefore in our interest to eat as little processed food as possible.

Also, we absorb more energy from foods that are cooked because these processes break down plant and animal cells, thus increasing their bioavailability. Finally, depending on the type of bacteria present in our gut, some people find it easier to extract energy/calorie from plant cell walls than others. These species of bacteria are the bacteroidetes. In short, it’s not just a question of calories ingested. Introduction (the families of foods/nutrients to favor and those to forget)

Why is a rapid weight loss diet not a good idea?

In the vicious circle of diets, the basic metabolism is negatively affected by reducing it. Basal metabolism is the energy expended by the body to ensure essential functions such as breathing, blood circulation, etc. These functions constitute about 60% of the daily caloric expenditure. The higher our basal metabolic rate, the higher our daily energy expenditure. However, drastic diets lower our basic metabolism. By going on a diet, our body panics and goes into energy saving mode. We therefore spend less energy at rest and the risk of regaining weight is therefore much higher. Also, age is not on our side. From the age of 20, our basic metabolism would decrease by 2 to 3% per year. That’s why the older we get,

On the other hand, muscle mass and level of physical activity increases basal metabolism, and therefore energy expenditure. Usually, men have a higher basal metabolic rate than women because they have more muscle mass. This therefore underlines the importance of including strength training exercises in our physical activity routine.

What is the best diet to lose weight?

If you decide to lose weight, it is advisable to do it intelligently. The drastic methods are too restrictive: very low in calories, complete exclusion of certain foods or certain food groups and numerous food prohibitions. This can therefore lead to food compulsions and a feeling of loss of control. It follows a feeling of failure and then we start another diet. It is the vicious circle that begins. The more we do, the greater the risks to physical and mental health. The miracle diet does not exist. If it existed, we would have known about it for a long time!

Diets to be wary of

  • pictures of perfect bodies
  • use of so-called “natural” and “fat-burning” products
  • no need to exercise
  • very rapid weight loss (5 kilos in 2 weeks for example)
  • guaranteed weight loss
  • approved by a pseudo-specialist
  • bogus clinical studies without references

The criteria for choosing a good diet according to the Organisme Équilibre:

  • Do we carry out a detailed and complete assessment of our condition: state of health, lifestyle, eating habits, levels of stress and physical activity, among others?
  • Is it supervised by recognized health professionals: dieticians, kinesiologists,  psychologists , doctors and others?
  • Does this method offer a realistic weight loss goal (5 to 10% of initial weight)?
  • Is she aiming for a moderate weight loss rate (no more than 0.5 to 1 kg per week)?
  • Does it provide personalized advice that takes into account our lifestyle and our psychological and nutritional needs?
  • Does the diet provide a daily minimum of 1200 calories for a woman and 1800 calories for a man?
  • Does the diet emphasize variety and do not eliminate any foods or food groups?
  • Does the diet teach you to trust your internal feelings of hunger and satiety?
  • Does this method encourage regular physical activity?
  • Finally, does the diet encourage a gradual and non-drastic change in our lifestyle?

Did you answer yes to each of the previous questions? This method therefore has several advantages that promote realistic, safe and lasting weight loss.  However, if you answered no to some or most of the above questions, you may want to explore other options because it does not promote realistic, healthy, and sustainable weight loss.

How to set a good weight loss goal?

Your goals should be  pecific / M easurable / Achievable / ealistic / Time- bound. These are called SMART goals.

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Write a contract with yourself. By re-reading it regularly, it prevents you from losing the north. These goals need to be not just about weight loss, but about something more powerful. Establish a non-food reward system. When you reach your goals, treat yourself, pay for a massage, a show ticket, etc.

If your weight and/or waist size is normal and you still want to lose weight, what should you do? First ask yourself the question of the reasons behind your choices. If it’s only a question of appearance, look more at the level of improving your body image. If your weight is normal but your lifestyle habits are unhealthy, this may be a good reason to change your diet. Naturally, you would lose weight.

For those whose weight is already in the “healthy” weight category, you should rather try to tend towards your equilibrium weight. The balance weight is the one in which you feel good physically and psychologically. It is individual and unique. The “set point” theory, developed in 1982 by Bennett and Gurin, suggests that there is a control system built into each person, a sort of internal thermostat for body fat. For some people, this equilibrium weight would be higher than for others. This could explain why some people have difficulty losing weight beyond a certain point. In short, our weight would be physiologically predisposed around a weight range that the body will try to maintain, even if it is not the “healthy” weight.

Several factors determine this equilibrium weight:

  • heredity (very important factor)
  • age (the equilibrium weight increases with age)
  • basic metabolism
  • physical activity
  • eating habits

In short, if your weight remains stable, despite the efforts, ask yourself the question, maybe your body is not made to go further.

What is the right rate of weight loss?

If you are overweight or obese, losing just 5-10% of your weight over a 6 month period significantly reduces your  risk of heart disease and other health conditions. The recommended rate of weight loss to stay healthy is 0.5 to 1 kg per week. Losing weight at this rate will help you maintain your weight later on in addition to giving you time to integrate your new lifestyle habits. Maintaining moderate weight loss over a long period of time is better than losing a lot of weight and then gaining it back. fat) and do not return to their initial muscle mass. If you want to lose more than 10% of your body weight, wait to maintain that weight loss for at least 6 months before continuing.

Losing 5-10% of initial weight is associated with significant improvements in blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, with fewer medications needed to treat these risk factors cardiovascular. Other benefits include improved sleep apnea, joint pain (especially knees), mobility, depression, and quality of life.

Prohibited foods and allowed foods in a weight loss diet

In a well-managed weight loss diet, there are no food restrictions. All foods have their place, only the frequency of consumption matters. Some foods with high nutritional value should be consumed daily while others should be consumed in moderation just for pleasure. Here is a list of some foods whose consumption is to be encouraged and others whose consumption is to be moderated.

Favorite foods                                   Foods to eat in moderation                               
Crudités Whole
grains Wholemeal
Olive, rapeseed and linseed oils
Herbs, spices and herbs
Tea and herbal teas
Refined cereals
White bread
Butter, cream and oils rich in Omega-6
Red meat
Dishes in sauces
Industrial sauces (ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.)
Sugar and sweet products
Prepared meals
Processed products
Pastries, pastries, biscuits
Fast food
Sodas, industrial fruit juices

Typical weight loss meal plan day

The ideal ratio for weight management would be 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat.

Here is a weight loss program that respects these ratios*

Morning                       2 slices of wholemeal bread                                                                          
1 egg
1 piece of fruit
1 cup (250 ml) soy beverage
Morning SnackCrudités
¼ cup (35 g) almonds
Midday120g grilled chicken breast
Vegetable salad with olive oil dressing and ¼ avocado
100g cooked quinoa
1 piece of fruit
Afternoon Snack1 Greek or standard yogurt
50 g fresh fruit
¼ cup (25 g) rolled oats
1 tbsp. (15ml/7g) ground flax seeds
Evening120 g grilled salmon
Vegetables sautéed in olive oil
100 g brown rice
250 ml vegetable or non-vegetable milk at 1-2% fat
Evening snack100g cottage cheese
Ground cinnamon

* This menu provides approximately 1800 kcal per day.

Advantages and disadvantages

The benefits of a balanced weight loss diet

  • Meeting the needs of the organization
  • No frustration or food compulsions
  • Rare weight regain and easy weight maintenance
  • Compatible with a fulfilling social life
  • Positive body image
  • Allows you to adopt good eating habits for life
  • Reduces the risk of diseases related to overweight
  • Pleasure in eating a balanced diet and taking care of yourself
  • Food of high nutritional quality that avoids deficiencies
  • Healthy and fulfilling relationship to self and food

The health risks of crash dieting:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Risk of dehydration, drops in blood pressure, digestive disorders, disruption of hormones, hair loss and muscle cramps
  • Risk of deficiencies in proteins, essential fats, certain vitamins and minerals (iron and calcium for example)
  • Risk of diseases: anemia or  osteoporosis
  • Risk of electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrhythmia
  • Risk of weight gain when stopping the diet
  • Development of an unhealthy relationship with food and with the body
  • Loss of contact with hunger and satiety signals
  • Intense fatigue, headache, difficulty concentrating and decreased productivity
  • Decreased self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, feelings of failure and guilt
  • Excessive preoccupation with weight, or development of  eating disorders  (anorexia, bulimia, hyperphagia, etc.).

Recommendations and precautions to take

Are there any risks associated with being overweight?

Most people are aware of the risks associated with being overweight. It is even one of the reasons mentioned for losing weight: to have better health. Excess weight can, in fact, increase the risk of  type 2 diabetes , high blood pressure , heart disease, certain types of cancer, sleep apnea  , osteoarthritis , fatty liver disease, as well as problems during pregnancy in women, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and increased risk of caesarean section.

To assess your weight and the associated risks, you can calculate your BMI and your waist circumference. If your BMI is above 25 and your waist circumference above 88 cm for a woman or 102 cm for a man, your risk is higher for developing the health problems mentioned above. Consult a healthcare professional, who can make an overall assessment of your condition.

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The place where there is an accumulation of fat is therefore more important than the total body weight. In addition, a person with a normal BMI but a high waist circumference indicates the presence of abdominal fat (apple shape) and their risk of suffering health problems may be as great as an individual with a higher BMI but a large waist circumference. normal size. It should be noted that in a person aged 65 and over, a BMI between 23 and 27 has been shown to be more optimal for survival rates than the standard BMI range of 18.5 to 25. mortality rate would not increase until a BMI of 33 in these individuals.

Are women and men equal when it comes to weight loss? 

Men and women are not equal when it comes to weight loss. As mentioned previously, men have greater muscle mass and therefore a higher basal metabolic rate, which is favorable for weight loss. However, men, mainly due to hormones, tend to accumulate more visceral fat, which is dangerous for health. In addition, men, unlike women, underestimate their degree of obesity. Another difference is that women eat more frequently with their emotions (stress, depression, low self-esteem, general mood), which can be detrimental to maintaining weight loss because we eat with our heads and not our stomachs. . So this indicates that there are differences in how men and women view weight loss.

How to lose weight after pregnancy?

The majority of pregnant women would love to see their extra pounds melt away after childbirth. It is important to understand that weight loss after pregnancy varies from woman to woman. Know that it is important to maintain the healthy habits you had during pregnancy. Indeed, eating well after pregnancy helps restore the mother’s nutritional reserves, maintain a good level of energy and of course help you regain a healthy weight. We must therefore forget diets and weight loss diets and prioritize a varied and balanced diet. Remember that pregnancy weight was gained in 9 months, so losing it in 2 months is not realistic. One year after giving birth,

Also, women who were already overweight before pregnancy (BMI 27 or more) or who gained more weight during their pregnancy than recommended are more likely to be overweight one year after childbirth. Be aware, however, that limiting weight gain during pregnancy will not help you lose the extra pounds after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, it is even more important not to start a drastic diet because the quality of your breast milk could be affected and thus harm your baby’s development. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding would contribute to faster weight loss after childbirth.

Should you systematically include sport in a weight loss diet?

This is the best way to ensure your motivation. Staying physically active will help you lose weight and keep it off over time.

The benefits of physical activity

  • Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast, uterine and colon cancers
  • Strengthening your lungs
  • Strengthening your muscles and keeping your joints in good condition
  • Slowing the loss of bone mass
  • Relaxation and better stress management
  • Strengthening of self-confidence
  • Better sleep

For overall health and to reduce the risk of disease, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. To help manage body weight and prevent gradual weight gain, aim for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week. To maintain weight loss, aim for at least 60-90 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. You can break up the amount of time you do physical activity, such as 15 minutes at a time. If you haven’t been physically active for a while, then don’t let that stop you. Start slow and gradually increase your activity. For example, start walking for 10-15 minutes three times a week, then gradually build up to the recommended amount with brisk walking. Do a mix of resistance activities (weight training), cardiovascular activities and recovery. Above all, choose an activity that makes you happy.

How not to regain weight?

According to the National Weight Control Registry in the United States, here are the behaviors that are associated with poor weight gain:

  • eat a nutritious breakfast rich in protein  : add eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese, tofu, nuts and seeds or their butter. Protein helps you maintain lean body mass and increases feelings of satiety. Additionally, the cost of digesting protein is the highest among macronutrients (20-30% for protein, 5-6% for carbohydrates, and 3% for fat). It is important to have protein at all meals and distribute it well.
  • eat a diet that includes unsaturated fats , this helps maintain sex hormones, stimulates the immune system and adds flavor to food.
  • eat as little processed as possible  : this reduces the calories actually absorbed in addition to requiring more energy from our body for their digestion. Eat basic foods, in their most natural state possible.
  • consume few fast foods  : these are high in calories, lipids, saturated and  trans fats , sugars, sodium, etc.
  • drink few sugary drinks and favor water for hydration  : these are empty calories, with no effect on satiety. Also, the brain makes little difference between hunger and thirst symptoms and often people can confuse them easily.
  • have a diet rich in fiber  : whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes contribute to the feeling of satiety. Foods rich in soluble fiber are particularly good because they form a gel and take up more space in the stomach: psyllium,  artichoke , green beans, green peas, kohlrabi, avocado, pear, bran cereals, oatmeal, all legumes and  almonds  are good sources. In addition, the carbohydrates provided by these foods will prevent the feeling of deprivation.
  • reduce your portions at meals  : even if you eat quality food, you can eat too big portions. Listening to signals of satiety and portion control are therefore very important. Learn to eat slowly, taste your food so as to saturate your taste buds with different flavors. You will need smaller amounts to be full.     
  • have good sleep habits : researchers recommend sleeping between 7 and 8 hours a night, this affects the hormones of hunger and satiety positively.
  • limit screen time to a maximum of 10 hours per week : we move less and eat more when we are in front of a screen.
  • develop a positive body image : see your body as it is, accept it as it is in the present moment, accept the skills and particularities of your body, have confidence in your body and its abilities, treat your body with kindness , enjoying your body as it is, trusting your food choices, eating according to your appetite, accepting that your weight varies from time to time are all signs of a positive body image.
  • have better management of emotions/stress/ and have relaxing activities not associated with food  : reading, listening to music, meditating, moving are many activities that have been shown to promote calming. Clear your house of temptations: the goal is not to eliminate them completely, but the more you have, the greater your chances of eating them in times of stress.
  • have the support of our loved ones and/or health professionals  : a dietitian-nutritionist can help you assess your nutritional habits, give you a personalized plan and tools to achieve this, according to your lifestyle.
  • weigh yourself regularly without becoming obsessed with it  : this would allow you to act quickly if the weight has increased and thus maintain it in the long term.
  • keep a food diary  : the effectiveness of this tool is scientifically proven. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women who keep this type of diary have less difficulty maintaining their balanced weight.

A few figures to go further

According to a recent study, more than 60% of French people admit to watching their weight. This statement concerns almost as many men (57%) as women (67%).

More than 44% of the adult French population has already followed a diet intended for weight loss. People wishing to lose weight follow an average of 4 to 5 different diets in their lifetime.

Be careful though, the numbers are clear: the majority of weight loss diets fail. Indeed, 60% of individuals who have followed a diet are not satisfied with the result. Either because they didn’t lose the desired weight or because they regained it very quickly. Despite these pessimistic figures, the French continue to go on a diet. A third of the population also claims to plan to go back to diet in the coming months.

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