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The Best Ways To Lose Weight !

There are a multitude of diets for weight loss. Among the best known are the high-protein diet, the monodiet or the low-carbohydrate diet. However, despite achieving short-term weight loss goals, these diets do not offer lasting results. In fact, the best diet for weight loss is the combination of a high nutritional value diet, regular physical activity and a good mental state.

Characteristics of a balanced weight loss program:
  • Weight loss between 500g and 1kg per week
  • All food categories must be represented
  • Physical activity integrated to the program
  • Work on positive body image and self-acceptance
  • Must allow for the development of healthy eating habits over the long term

The main principles of the diet

Any weight gain or loss is the result of a change in our caloric intake. To reach what is called the energy balance, we must spend as much energy as we consume. Calories represent the energy value of food. The more calories we eat, the more energy we have to expend to compensate.

How does the weight loss diet work?

To lose weight, you need to create a negative balance, that is, burn more energy than calories ingested. Losing 0.5 kg per week, a reasonable goal, is equivalent to spending 3,500 calories more than you consumed. This implies a negative energy balance of 500 calories per day, which will be achieved by a 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? Furthermore, 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. In fact, we absorb less energy from minimally processed carbohydrates and 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 have an easier time extracting energy/calories from plant cell walls than others. These species of bacteria are called bacteroids. In short, it's not all about the calories you eat. Introduction (food/nutrient families to focus on and those to forget)

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

In the vicious circle of dieting, we negatively affect the basic metabolism by decreasing it. The basic metabolism is the energy spent by the body to ensure essential functions such as breathing, blood circulation, etc.. These functions make up about 60% of our daily caloric expenditure. The higher our basal metabolic rate, the higher our daily energy expenditure. However, drastic diets decrease our basal metabolic rate. When we go on a diet, our body panics and goes into energy saving mode. We therefore spend less energy at rest and the risk of putting on weight is therefore much higher. Furthermore, age is not on our side. From the age of 20, our basic metabolism decreases by 2 to 3% per year. This is why the older we get, the harder it is to lose weight.

On the other hand, muscle mass and the level of physical activity increases the basal metabolic rate, and therefore energy expenditure. Usually, men have a higher basal metabolic rate than women because they have more muscle mass. This highlights the importance of including strength training 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. Drastic methods are too restrictive: very low in calories, complete exclusion of certain foods or food groups and many food bans. This can lead to food compulsions and a feeling of loss of control. This leads to a feeling of failure and then to another diet. This is the vicious circle that begins. The more you do, the more the risks to your physical and mental health accumulate. The miracle diet does not exist. If it did, we would have known about it a long time ago!

Diets to watch out for
  • images of perfect bodies
  • use of so-called "natural" products and "fat burners
  • no need to exercise
  • very rapid weight loss (5 kilos in 2 weeks for example)
  • guaranteed weight loss
  • approved by a pseudo-specialist
  • phony clinical studies with no references
The criteria for choosing a good diet according to the Wellness Organization :
  • Is a detailed and complete evaluation of our condition done: health status, lifestyle, eating habits, stress and physical activity levels, among others?
  • Is it supervised by recognized health professionals: dieticians, kinesiologists, psychologists, physicians and others?
  • Does this method propose a realistic weight loss objective (5 to 10% of the initial weight)?
  • Does it target a moderate rate of weight loss (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 dietary 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 not eliminate any food or food group?
  • Does the diet teach you to trust your internal feelings of hunger and satiety?
  • Does it encourage regular physical activity?
  • Finally, does the diet encourage a gradual and not drastic change in our lifestyle?
Did you answer yes to each of the above questions? This method has many advantages that promote realistic, safe and lasting weight loss. However, if you answered no to some or most of the previous questions, you may want to explore other options because it does not promote realistic, healthy and sustainable weight loss.

How do you set a good weight loss goal?

Your goals should be Specific/Measurable/Achievable/Realistic/Temporally defined. These are called SMART goals.

Write a contract with yourself. By rereading it regularly, you will avoid losing your bearings. These goals should not only be related to weight loss, but to something more powerful. Establish a non-food reward system. When you reach your goals, treat yourself, buy yourself a massage, a ticket to a show, etc.

If your weight and/or waistline is normal and you still want to lose weight, what should you do? First of all, ask yourself why you are doing this. If it's just a question of appearance, look for ways to improve your body image. If your weight is normal but your lifestyle habits are not healthy, this may be a good reason to change your diet. Naturally, you will lose weight.

For those whose weight is already in the "healthy" weight category, you should try to reach your balance weight. The equilibrium weight is the one in which you feel good physically and psychologically. It is unique to each person. The "set point" theory, developed in 1982 by Bennett and Gurin, proposes that there is a control system built into each person, a sort of internal thermostat for body fat. For some people, this balance 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 your efforts, ask yourself the question, perhaps your body is not made to go further.

What is the right rate of weight loss?

If you are overweight or obese, losing only 5 to 10% of your body 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 afterwards and give you time to integrate your new lifestyle habits. Maintaining a moderate weight loss over a long period of time is better than losing a lot of weight and then gaining it back, because it has been shown that when people regain the weight they lost, they mainly gain back fat and do not return to their original muscle mass. If you want to lose more than 10% of your body weight, wait until you maintain this weight loss for at least 6 months before continuing.

A loss of 5 to 10% of your initial body weight is associated with significant improvements in blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, with less medication needed to treat these cardiovascular risk factors. Other benefits include improvement in sleep apnea, joint pain (especially knees), mobility, depression and quality of life.

What foods are forbidden and what foods are allowed in a weight loss diet

In a well-conducted weight loss diet, there are no forbidden foods. All foods have their place, only the frequency of consumption is important. Some foods with high nutritional value should be eaten daily while others should be eaten in moderation just for fun. Here is a list of some foods to be encouraged and others to be consumed in moderation.

Foods to be encouraged                             
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Raw vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Olive, rapeseed and flaxseed oils
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Oilseeds
  • Seeds
  • Herbs, spices and aromatics
  • Water
  • Tea and herbal teas 
Foods to be consumed in moderation   
  • Refined grains
  • White bread
  • Butter, cream and oils rich in Omega-6
  • Red meat
  • Cold cuts
  • Dishes with sauces
  • Industrial sauces (ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.)
  • Sugar and sweet products
  • Prepared dishes
  • Processed products
  • Pastries, pastries, cookies
  • Confectionery
  • Salt
  • Fast food
  • Sodas, industrial fruit juices
  • Alcohol

Typical day of a weight loss program

The ideal ratio for weight management would be 30% for proteins, 40% for carbohydrates and 30% for fats.

Here is a weight loss program that respects these ratios*.

Morning                       

2 slices of whole grain bread                                                                          
1 egg
1 piece of fruit
1 cup (250 ml) of soy beverage

Morning snack

Raw vegetables
¼ cup (35 g) almonds

Noon

120 g grilled chicken breast
Vegetable salad with olive oil dressing and ¼ avocado
100 g cooked quinoa
1 piece of fruit

Afternoon snack

1 Greek or standard yogurt
50 g fresh fruit
¼ cup (25 g) rolled oats
1 tbsp (15 mL/7 g) ground flaxseed

Evening

120 g grilled salmon
Vegetables sautéed in olive oil
100 g brown rice
250 ml vegetable or non-vegetable milk 1-2% fat

Evening snack

100 g cottage cheese
Ground cinnamon

* This menu provides about 1800 kcal per day.

Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of a balanced weight loss diet

  • Respect for the body's needs
  • No frustration or food compulsions
  • Rare weight regain and easy weight maintenance
  • Compatible with a fulfilling social life
  • Positive body image
  • Allows you to develop good eating habits for life
  • Reduces the risk of diseases related to overweight
  • Pleasure in eating a balanced diet and taking care of yourself
  • High nutritional quality food that avoids deficiencies
  • A healthy and fulfilling relationship with oneself and with food

The health risks of a strict diet:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Risk of dehydration, drops in blood pressure, digestive problems, hormone disruption, hair loss and muscle cramps
  • Risk of deficiencies in proteins, essential fats, certain vitamins and minerals (iron and calcium, for example)
  • Risk of disease: anemia or osteoporosis
  • Risk of electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrhythmia
  • Risk of weight gain after stopping the diet
  • Development of an unhealthy relationship with food and the body
  • Loss of contact with hunger and satiety signals
  • Intense fatigue, headaches, 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, binge eating, 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 given for losing weight: to be healthier. Excess weight can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, certain types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver, kidney disease and problems during pregnancy in women, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and increased risk of caesarean section.

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

The location of fat accumulation is more important than total body weight. In addition, a person with a normal BMI but a high waistline indicates the presence of abdominal fat (apple shape) and their risk of suffering from health problems may be as great as an individual with a higher BMI but a normal waistline. It should be noted that in a person aged 65 years and older, 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 rates 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 earlier, men have more muscle mass and therefore a higher basal metabolic rate, which is beneficial to weight loss. However, men, mainly because of 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 hinder the maintenance of weight loss because we eat with our head and not our stomach. This indicates that there are differences in the way men and women view weight loss. This must be taken into account when making lifestyle changes.

How to lose weight after pregnancy?

Most pregnant women would like to see their extra pounds melt away after giving birth, but it is important to understand that weight loss after pregnancy varies from one woman to another. It is important to understand that weight loss after pregnancy varies from one woman to another, but it is important to maintain the healthy habits you had during pregnancy. In fact, eating well after pregnancy helps to restore the mother's nutritional reserves, maintain a good energy level and, of course, help you regain a healthy weight. You should therefore forget about diets and weight loss programs and focus on a varied and balanced diet. Don't forget that the pregnancy weight was gained in 9 months, so it is not realistic to lose it in 2 months. One year after giving birth, the majority of women return to their pre-pregnancy weight (within 1-2 kg) while 20 to 30% would have 4 to 5 kg more.

Also, women who were already overweight before pregnancy (BMI 27 and over) or who gained more weight during their pregnancy than recommended are more likely to be overweight one year after delivery. However, limiting weight gain during pregnancy will not help you lose the extra weight after delivery. 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 the development of your baby. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding contributes to a faster weight loss after delivery.

Should I always include sports in my weight loss program?

It's the best way to ensure your motivation. Staying physically active will help you lose weight and maintain it over time.

The benefits of physical activity
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast, uterine and colon cancer
  • Strengthen your lungs
  • Strengthen your muscles and keep your joints in good condition
  • Slowing down the loss of bone mass
  • Relaxation and better stress management
  • Increased 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 daily physical activity. You can split the amount of time you do physical activity, such as 15 minutes at a time. If you have not been physically active for a while, then don't let that stop you. Start slowly 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 (strength training), cardiovascular and recovery activities. Above all, choose an activity that you enjoy.

How can I keep the weight off?

According to the National Weight Control Registry in the United States, the following behaviors are associated with low weight regain

  • Have a nutritious breakfast rich in protein: add eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese, tofu, nuts and seeds or butter. Protein helps you maintain your lean body mass and increases the feeling of satiety. In addition, 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 every meal and to distribute it well.
  • have a diet that includes unsaturated fats, this helps maintain sex hormones, stimulates the immune system and adds taste to food.
  • Eat as little processed food as possible: this decreases the actual calories absorbed and requires more energy from the body for digestion. Eat basic foods in their most natural state.
  • Eat little fast food: it is high in calories, fat, saturated and trans fats, sugars, sodium, etc.
  • Drink few sugary drinks and prefer water to hydrate yourself: these are empty calories, with no effect on satiety. In addition, the brain makes little difference between the symptoms of hunger and thirst and people often confuse them easily.
  • eat a diet rich in fibre: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and legumes all contribute to the feeling of fullness. Foods rich in soluble fiber are particularly interesting 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 feelings of deprivation.
  • Reduce your meal portions: even if you eat quality food, you can eat too large portions. Listening to satiety signals and controlling portions are therefore very important. Learn to eat slowly, savouring your food in a way that saturates your taste buds with different flavours. You will need smaller amounts to feel 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.
  • developing a positive body image: seeing your body as it is, accepting it as it is in the present moment, accepting your body's abilities and particularities, having confidence in your body and its abilities, treating 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 emotional/stress management and relaxing activities not associated with food: reading, listening to music, meditating, moving are many activities shown to promote calmness. Rid your home of temptations: the goal is not to eliminate them completely, but the more you have, the more likely you are to eat them in times of stress.
  • Get support from family and friends or health professionals: a dietician-nutritionist can help you evaluate your nutritional habits, give you a personalized plan and tools to achieve it, according to your lifestyle.
  • Weigh yourself regularly without becoming obsessed: this will allow you to act quickly if your weight has increased and to maintain it in the long term.
  • Keep a food diary: the effectiveness of this tool has been 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 weight.

Some figures to go further

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

More than 44% of the French adult population has already followed a diet aimed at losing weight. People who want to lose weight follow an average of 4 to 5 different diets during their life.

However, the figures are clear: the majority of diets intended for weight loss fail. In fact, 60% of people who have followed a diet are not satisfied with the results. Either because they did not lose the desired weight or because they regained it very quickly. Despite these pessimistic figures, the French do not stop dieting. One third of the population says they are considering going on a diet again in the next few months.

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