Weight loss is a lucrative business. With so many programs, diets, shakes and guru’s it’s hard to know where to start and who to trust. When it comes to losing weight, we need to look at ourselves as an individual and ascertain what is right for us. Sure, there is the concept of calories in calories out, but that certainly does not work for everyone. For some, cutting back on portion sizes and being conscious of what their meals are made up of is enough. For others, it’s not that easy. Here are the fundamental areas that we need to consider when aiming to shed some weight.
Wholefood v ‘Empty Foods’
A wholefood diet is filled with sustaining protein, fiber and fats that keep us fuller for longer and less likely to grab a quick ‘pick me up’ sugary snack. Wholefoods are in the majority lower in sugar meaning there is less likelihood of excess sugar intake being turned to fat. This process happens when our sugar intake surpasses the capabilities of our body’s insulin levels, resulting in excess sugars shuttled off to our liver to be converted to fats (triglycerides). Additionally, fiber, protein and quality fats rich in wholefoods literally slow down the absorption of sugars meaning we are more likely to slowly burn the sugars/carbohydrates for energy rather than rapidly store them as fat. Conversely, foods devoid of nutrition termed above as ‘empty foods’ are generally high in sugars, low in fiber, protein and quality fats resulting in an abundant supply of sugars readily converted to fat.
Calories are part of the picture, but they are by no means the full pie. Sure, if we ignore calories all together and eat nothing but calorie rich foods like raw desserts we will certainly be pushing the calorie quota. However, if you are eating a wholefood diet balanced with protein, fat and an array of complex carbohydrates then it is very hard to consume ridiculous amounts of excess calories. Moreover, all calories are not the same. For instance, a snickers bar or a homemade bliss ball may contain the same amount of calories. However, the snickers bar is mostly made up of sugar meaning rapid absorption and storage as fat. Where as the bliss ball made of dried fruit, nuts, seeds and protein powder has a high amount of fiber, fats and protein to slow the absorption rate therefore discourage the storage response.
Our western culture has quite a distorted understanding of what a meal size should consist of. So many people overeat, which means our body is in a food surplus state. This also can apply to healthy food, a common misconception being that when you eat a wholefood diet you can eat ‘as much as you want’. Yes, wholefood is amazing, but it’s not magic. If you eat too much it has to be stored somewhere.
Healthy You, Healthy Weight Loss
Commonly there are other contributing factors to weight loss. I see in clinic consistently how having a health gut allows the metabolism to function effectively, finally allowing a person to shift some frustrating weight. Fat is stored energy, and your body does not want to loose that stored energy when it is compromised and deficient. Other common health concerns that can affect inability to shift weight are thyroid irregularities and hormonal imbalances whether they are reproductive hormones or adrenal hormones.
So What Does a Healthy Weight Loss Food Plan Looks Like?
First and foremost it must be based on a wholefood, macronutrient balanced diet. From there we can create a deficit by minimising starchy/complex carbohydrates in the afternoon and into our dinner meal, supplying the body with fewer sugars/carbs to store when we tend to be at our most sedentary. For most healthy individuals this type of approached paired with exercise is enough, unless there are underlying issues as aforementioned. We can also include foods that support the thyroid rich in selenium, zinc, iodine and omega 3’s. Lastly, we can also utilise thermogenic foods that create heat and tend to boost the metabolism such as chilli, ginger, cacao and green tea as seen in this chocolate chilli mousse smoothie.
chocolate chilli mousse smoothie + getting real about weight loss
- serves 1
- preparation time
- 5 minutes
- cooking time
- 1/4 large avocado
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 2 tablespoons of plant based protein powder
- 1 tablespoon of raw cacao
- pinch dried chilli flakes
- 2 medjool dates
- 1/3 cup frozen raspberries
- 2 tablespoons oats (or quinoa flakes for gluten free)
- 4 – 6 cubes of ice
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth and creamy.
- This smoothie provides a complete meal thanks to the inclusion of the oats (or quinoa flakes) to provide complex more sustainable carbohydrates. Often smoothies have protein powder as a protein boost, yet lack the fibre dense carbs for satiety and diverse gut bacterial food. Of course if you would like to make this smoothie as a snack you could omit the oats and halve the protein powder.
- Cacao and chilli both have thermogenic qualities that enhance fatty acid metabolism. Raw cacao has been shown to up regulate genes for enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis for thermogenesis and to conversely down regulate enzymes involved in liver fat synthesis and white adipose (fat) tissue. The flavanols (phytochemicals) in cacao also have the ability to increase expression of receptors (PPAR-y and adiponectin), which in turn leads to reduction of fat deposition and insulin resistance. (2017, Magrone T et al)
- Chilli has been theorised to exert its thermogenic effects through stimulation of the adrenergic pathways. Studies have shown a causative relationship between ingestion of chilli (capsaicin) and an increase in catecholamine levels (epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine). (2103, Pilou L. H. R. Janssens et all)
Jessica Cox is a qualified practicing Nutritionist with a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition) and over 15 years of clinical experience. She is the founder and director JCN Clinic, published author and established recipe developer. Jessica is well respected within health and wellness space for her no fad approach and use of evidence-based nutrition.