Almost all of us have given dieting or calorie counting a try at least once in our lives.
Although it’s always been believed that calorie restriction diets are the key to weight loss, a new study has found that a new strategy to weight loss could be much more effective than counting calories.
Although dietary modification remains the key to successful weight loss, the most important factor is choosing the foods to eat, like minimally processed foods, and an abundance of vegetables and whole foods, while cutting back on sugar, alcohol, refined grains and processed foods.
Forget about counting calories, it’s how and what you eat that counts.
Reasons to Limit Heavily Processed Foods
We hear that processed foods aren’t good for us, but why exactly is that?
Although I don’t believe that cutting out all processed foods is realistic, it’s important to know that they are not the best choice when it comes to your health, and should be limited as much as possible.
Before we go over some of the reasons why you should cut down on processed foods, let’s first have a look at what heavily processed foods actually are, and how they compare to minimally processed foods.
Minimally processed foods are whole foods that have been slightly processed and have lost some of its nutritious value and fibre, but have retained most of its nutrients.
Heavily processed foods on the other hand, have lost most of its original nutrients, vitamins and fibre that have been replaced with a lot of added ingredients.
Now that you know the main difference between these two types of foods, let’s talk about the reasons why you should limit and avoid the consumption of the latter.
Heavily processed foods:
- Are lower in vitamins, minerals and fibre
- Have added sugar and additives (food colouring, flavours, stabilizers, gums, MSG, texturizers and so on)
- Can change your taste preferences overtime, which will make it hard for you to enjoy whole foods
- Have refined carbohydrates which cause blood sugar spikes
- Are associated with changes in metabolism and higher risk for certain diseases
The Benefits of Eating Whole Foods and Minimally Processed Food
Our bodies require several different substances in order to survive and stay healthy. These substances are called nutrients and many foods are nutrient dense.
Those include proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, fibre and so on. Whole foods and minimally processed foods contain a much broader spectrum of nutritional components than their heavily processed counterparts. In fact, these foods are jam packed with nutritional value.
Here are some of the multiple benefits of eating whole and minimally processed foods:
- Enzymes can only be found in whole natural foods
- Minimally processed foods contain lots of fibre
- Eating whole foods is good for the environment
- Whole foods and minimally processed foods cost less in the long run
- They are high in healthy fats, and low in sugar
- They help control your triglycerides and blood sugar levels
Ways to Lose Weight without Calorie Counting
If you’re looking for other ways to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight without calorie counting, here’s what you can do:
1. Eat Intuitively
Intuitive eating is a fairly simple process, yet the fact that it’s so simple is what makes it hard for some people to incorporate.
Basically, intuitive eating is going back to the way we were eating as kids, before we were aware of how many calories or nutrients specific foods have, and when we should and shouldn’t eat.
This means going back to our roots and learning how to trust that our body knows what’s best.
Intuitive eating means closely following our body’s cues as to what to eat and when to eat it.
Here are the main steps and principles of intuitive eating:
- Eat when you’re hungry
- Forget about dieting
- Don’t skip meals, and give your body some consistency it can trust
- Allow all foods into your diet
- Don’t feel bad about eating foods that are “bad” for you
- Listen to your body and stop when you’re feeling full, without overeating
- Find ways to comfort yourself without emotional eating
- Exercise and respect your body
2. Eat in Moderation
Avoid using the word “can’t” when it comes to food. Saying that you can’t have something just makes the cravings and anxiety for eating certain foods even bigger until all you want to eat is the one thing you’ve been telling yourself you shouldn’t.
3. Incorporate a Daily Fitness Routine
Be more active. Incorporate a fitness routine in your daily schedule, and don’t give in to excuses like: “it’s too cold out”, “I’m tired”, or “I’ll start going tomorrow”.
Although it’s difficult to disrupt your normal lazy routine by doing something you’re not quite fond of, like working out, it’s important to try and stick to your set schedule and respect your workout regimen, in order to see some positive results.
4. Set Reasonable Goals
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to lose weight is setting unreasonable goals and having unrealistic expectations.
If you set out to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, you’ll lose sight of the less impressive, yet meaningful goals you’ll achieve on the way. You’ll have only one main goal in mind and once you see that your goal is difficult to achieve you’ll get discouraged and give up.
Instead of focusing on one big goal, celebrate all your small victories on the way and work towards incorporating healthier tendencies that you can use in your everyday life.
Getting some help…
Sometimes we all need a little helping hand to get us through the harder times, especially when we are learning new skills and trying to overcome serious cravings.
You could go and get help from a nutritionist, which will be money well spent. If you decide to go down the exercise route, you could look at online personal training, such as this kind of thing, or you could get in-person sessions from a PT, and you can find many of them online.
In-person sessions are way more expensive but will ultimately hold you more accountable and get better results.
Whatever you decide, spending money on your health is a great investment that is definitely worth the cost.