A lot of us expected 2020 to be THE year. The year to achieve weight loss, conquer goals, live your best life, etc. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go our way and right now is a good example of that. Apart from trying to steer clear from COVID-19, a big concern for many people has been how to prevent weight gain during quarantine. Being at home for such a long period, in conjunction with restrictions on many of our physical activities, has made the extra pounds creep up. Let’s talk about how to manage or prevent this.
The body accumulates fat when you consume more calories than you burn. Therefore, the simplest and best way to lose weight is by eating less and burning more calories.
We’ve all heard of macros and the importance of tracking them if you seriously want to lose the extra pounds. If you are the type of person who has the patience and mindset to track everything that you eat, I would recommend the following method.
First, you need to figure out how many calories your body requires. This is done by calculating you Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE for short. You can find out your TDEE here.
Now that you know how much energy your body needs to maintain your current weight, you should reduce 20% or about 500 calories, to be in a deficit- thus forcing your body to seek energy elsewhere, i.e. your fat stores. Such a deficit usually leads to losing about 1 pound per week.
One of the easiest ways to cut calories from your day is through fasting. I’m a huge fan of the intermittent fast. By only eating during a specific window of time, you can easily intake less. It can be as easy as skipping breakfast or dinner. Besides weight loss, there are so many other benefits to this type of eating. You can read more about IF here.
It is wise to be aware of the types of food that you are eating. You want to fuel your body with quality, nutrient-dense foods. Especially now, since your immune system is your #1 weapon against Covid-19.
Now is the time to cut the sugar. Sugar is quite detrimental to our body. Basically, when you eat sugar, your insulin levels spike, causing more than a sugar crash. Over time, your body can develop inflammation and insulin resistance. This leads to weight gain and disease. Sugar comes in many forms, not just from candy and cakes. Lactose, found in milk, contains high amount of glucose. Many fruits, such a pineapple and bananas, are high on the glycemic index, which measures the blood glucose-raising potential of carbohydrates, or sugars in food. By focusing on eating foods with a low-glycemic index, you are helping your body regulate insulin levels.
Humans are historically hunter-gatherers. Genetically, we function best when we eat the foods that our ancestors ate. Think of the stone age, when our paleolithic descendants were eating a diet high in protein and fiber; modern agriculture and ultra-processed food did not exist. Obesity and modern-day disease, such as diabetes, did not exist. This Keto/Paleo type diet is what I personally follow, and urge my patients to adhere to. Eating low-carb, high-fiber and protein-based foods keep you full longer, acting as natural appetite suppressants.
Sustainable weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. A good healthy goal is to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. That means aiming to lose 4 to 8 pounds per month is a healthy, maintainable goal.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This equivocates to roughly 0.4 grams per pound. This is the amount of a nutrient required to meet your basic nutritional needs. Think of it as the minimum amount needed to survive. I personally recommend eating 1 gram of protein per your desired weight daily. If you are a 150 lb woman, aim for 150 gms of protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids that our body needs to supply for maintenance and growth of our cells and tissues. This is very important if you are over the age of 40, a body builder, or a cross fit athlete.
Your carbohydrate intake varies depending on your diet choices. If you are following a ketogenic, low-carb diet, it is recommended that you consume less than 20 grams daily. Moderate low carb diets include 20-50 grams of carbs a day.
The amount of fat you should eat on a keto/low-carb diet depends on your protein and carb intake, your current weight, and your weight goals. As a rule of thumb, your fat intake should be half your daily protein grams. Figure out your protein and carb needs first, and then fill in your remaining energy needs with fat.
Generally, keto diets are higher in fat than low-carb diets. A keto diet normally provides about 70-80% of calories as fat, compared to about 50-65% for a more liberal low-carb diet.
My recommendation is that your diet consists of 20-25% protein, 70% fat, and 5-10% carbohydrate. This will keep you in ketosis and in fat-burning mode. If you stall on keto, then it’s time to raise your protein and lower your fat intake to half the grams of the protein. If fat burning is what you want, you have to direct the body to use your own fat by adapting to keto/low carb eating. I recommend you check out my friend, Dr. Ted Naimen’s, ebook.
Now that you know that weight loss depends on caloric intake, as well as what you eat, let’s talk about meals.
Ideally, you want a diet full of nutritious foods that are low GI and keep you satiated for a longer period. By feeling full longer, you’ll eat less. Remember not to combine low-carb, low protein with low-fat meals. They will cease to keep you full for long and you will abandon or sabotage your progress.
Organic, non-GMO is best because it is healthier and worth paying extra for.
Here are some healthy, low-carb, sample meal plans to help you lose weight:
Lunch or Dinner
You are not alone by having gained some weight over these past few months. You have the power to change that. What you eat is the most important factor, but your thoughts and actions play a role as well. Remember, positive thoughts and self-love are your best friends when trying to be your best self! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Know that I’m always here for you.