Losing weight is by no means an easy feat. Weight gain is something that happens to us quite naturally as we age and become less active, and the added pounds can sneak up on us without us really even noticing sometimes. Not only is it difficult to know how to lose the weight to begin with, but building a routine that you can stick to is a whole other challenge in itself. Often for those of us losing weight, putting it back on is even easier, so creating a weight-loss plan that we can consistently work towards is a must.
Arguably the most important component of weight loss is diet. No matter how much exercise you do, if you eat too much of the wrong thing, your body will need to store the excess somewhere. In this article, the team over at the popular UK pharmacy Pharmica have compiled a list of weight-loss diets that are backed by hard science, and give their tips on how else to achieve your desired look.
Dieting, what a minefield! Every other week there seems to be a new fad diet trending online, making it that much harder to cut through the noise and find what truly works. But controlling what you eat really is important for weight loss, not only quantity but also nutritionally, as not all calories were created equally. Here are 3 popular types of diets that are renowned for their effectiveness:
Ketogenic diets focus on the benefits of protein and fat, with high intakes of these, but limit carbohydrate consumption. The method, and indeed how the naming convention came about, is to try to induce ketosis, a state in which the body turns to fat stores for energy due to not being able to get energy from carbohydrates.
Compared to a standard low-fat diet, following this technique will result in losing 4 times as much body mass over a period of 8 weeks, as one study found. For reference, Ketogenic (sometimes abbreviated to Keto) diets typically maintain a fat, protein and carb intake of the ratio 7:2:1, although the cyclical ketogenic diets and high-protein ketogenic diets have slightly different proportions. The great thing about this diet is the vital factor is types of food rather than volumes of food, so it doesn’t necessarily require you to strictly limit calories (although it will work better if you do this as well!)
On a Zone Diet, you will need to keep your macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) intake to the ratio 4:3:3, controlling calories and encouraging the metabolism of fat. Another benefit of this diet is promoting insulin stability, promoting good general health.
In women who were overweight, one study found a reduction in body weight of 7% over half a year when following this structure. One of the great benefits of this diet is it might be similar in macronutrient proportions to your current diet, meaning that it’ll be easier to follow and maintain, without getting huge cravings for carbs for example, as the Ketogenic diet is likely to create.
These diets are unique in that they give the individual striving to lose weight the greatest amount of freedom in terms of a variety of foods. By gradually decreasing your total calorie intake, you are able to get back down to matching consumption with your BMR (basal metabolic rate), the number of calories your body needs to maintain adequate bodily functioning.
This means that there are no excess calories that are stored as fat, and pushing this below your BMR will result in the body needing to delve into fat stores for extra energy, shedding those unnecessarily added pounds. This is all achievable by still consuming whatever foods you like, albeit in smaller portions. Over a 12 week period, you can expect to lose between 1/10th to 1/5th of your body mass depending on the strictness of the calorie deficit. When done alongside exercise, this is one of the most effective and popular weight loss methods.
In a way, this is a form of calorie-restricting diet, as this diet cycles between times when you’re fasting (not eating) and eating. By restricting the time periods in which you’re actually allowed to eat, as well as being good for your energy levels it is an easy way to limit to hours in the day that you can be filling up, as snacking is one of the most common attributes to overweight people’s diets.
The premise here is that the availability of an abundance of food whenever we want to eat it is fairly new and inherently unnatural; our ancestors had to work to catch or harvest their food, going long periods without eating to then feast on a meal once it’s ready. What you eat, well that’s totally up to you, although it’s often combined with another macronutrient-controlled diet for maximum health benefits and effectiveness.
One of the most popular forms of this diet is the 16:8 diet, whereby your first and last meal lies within an 8-hour window, with 16 hours of fasting. You can drink substances like coffee or tea in the morning as long as they’ve got no sugar or milk added, but only water between your last meal and sleeping. Alternatively, the other most popular method is the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for 5 days per week, but on 2 (spaced apart) days you eat only 500-600 calories that day.
Whichever diet you choose to try, be conscious of what your body needs in terms of nutritional balance. It’s a good idea to find out if you have any nutrient or vitamin deficiencies, so you can adjust your food preferences or supplement your meals appropriately.
Whilst diet is indeed crucial for weight loss, it’ll be a lot harder if you aren’t also factoring in elements such as exercise each week and enough good quality sleep. Cutting back on alcohol, as well as identifying and reducing your stress triggers, will play significant roles in a speedy weight loss journey.