We all know that eating too much, eating the wrong foods and not exercising enough will make us gain weight. We know that gaining too much weight is not healthy, and puts a strain on our heart, arteries, endocrine system, joints and liver. It can also affect our fertility, state of mind, and ability to function effectively at work and home, as we juggle the demands of everyday life. Often weight gain can be from consuming too many calorie high, nutrient low foods, so, ironically, as well as gaining weight we may also develop nutritional deficiencies.
Is it possible, though, to eat to lose weight? Seems like a contradiction in terms. The encouraging answer is yes!
Some foods actually do us a favour, and support weight loss and weight management. High nutrient foods, and foods that support or speed up metabolism, or help with fat oxidation, can all help us better manage our weight. Exercise is also an important consideration, but getting your diet right certainly goes a very long way.
So what are some of these wonder foods for weight loss? Here’s a short summary of some great foods to include in your diet if you are looking to manage your weight, or even drop a bit.
A lot of people rely predominantly on carbohydrates as their primary source of food and nutrients. This is often in the form of bread or fruit. This is particularly true of breakfast, our first meal of the day. However, getting the day started with a decent hit of protein will help wake up your metabolism earlier in the day. For vegetarians, this could be humus on toast or pitta bread, an egg or baked beans (homemade – shop bought baked beans have too much sugar in them).
A protein shake with some frozen berries is also a great way to start the day. People who eat meat might like to try including some grilled chicken, ham and eggs, or smoked salmon into their breakfast routine. You’ll find you feel fuller for longer, can concentrate better, and will also start to shed some weight.
“Night owls” might also start to notice their sleeping patterns change (often we wake up at night as many people have the main meal of the day at dinner time, which gives us the fuel our body has been starving for all day and then keeps us awake longer). Eggs and nuts are also great snacks for mid-afternoon or at morning tea time – they contain plenty of protein as well as vitamins and minerals, and can help prevent sugar-cravings and drops in blood sugar in late afternoon.
Berries and coloured foods
Highly coloured foods, such as beetroot, sweet potato, pumpkin, and berries contain phytochemicals and other important active substances that can help boost overall health, and help the body repair itself. If you have been carrying excess weight for some time, it may not just be diet that’s to blame. Sometimes the body stores toxins in fat cells to protect the major organs from damage.
If your liver is overloaded and having trouble keeping up with the volume of chemicals and toxins you are exposed to this can promote fat storage. Antioxidants can help, and highly coloured foods tend to have lots of these. Try to have at least one serve a day, and the fresher the better. Antioxidants are very fragile – cooking and keeping them too long can result in little or no active antioxidants being present.
How can drinking tea have anything to do with weight loss? Well, green tea has some very special ingredients called catechin polyphenols that offer numerous health benefits, including protection for the heart and cells. In addition, there is a role in fat oxidation and metabolism, which means green tea and weight loss do go hand in hand! Try to drink two or three cups a day, or, if you don’t like the taste, try green tea tablets, adding some powder to a smoothie, or trying iced green tea, which can have a softer flavour.
If you are looking to better manage your weight, or get your weight under control, making informed choices about the foods to eat that will support your weight loss, improve metabolism, and offer you helpful nutrients as the body readjusts is the smart way to go. It’s also more enjoyable! Especially when you know your food choices are helping you tip your weight back in the right direction.
Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition. She is also into yoga and pilates.