How to break through a weight loss plateau
“I’m not an athlete, although I keep pretty active. I’m trying to shed a few pounds but I seem to have bottomed out and can’t drop any more weight. How do I get my nutrition situation under control?” – Down With Calories
You’ve got one key fact already understood: you need energy to be active and you get your energy from food. So, the question is: How do you keep your energy levels up and still maintain a calorie deficit in order to lose weight? This probably comes as no surprise, but the answer lies in what you choose to eat.
Calorie counting is an infamous way to get an educated understanding of your diet’s daily calorie intake. However, this can be hard to calculate as many foods don’t have an easy-to-read label, especially the meals you make yourself. Luckily, the internet has an easy alternative to this form of calorie counting.
With one quick Google search, you can find an online food journal, which makes tracking your food intake and physical activity easy and pain-free. You can make journal entries that match your food intake and activity with a nutrient database to offer a summary of your day.
This is a great way to get started on a sensible weight loss program. It typically allows you to see your calories, what foods pack the biggest punches and a breakdown of useful nutritional info. Learning what your typical diet looks like in terms of the number of calories you consume is essential for understanding how to make better choices.
Now that we have a good idea of what foods we are eating and how it contributes to our fuel intake, we can make better choices to reach our fat loss goal. Another component of this is to deal with your appetite.
Hunger is the worst. Not only can it cause us to make poor nutritional choices—hunger saps our willpower—but it also means your body is likely in conservation mode, burning fewer calories than it would if it was fully fuelled.
The best way to deal with hunger is to ensure your diet contains appropriate amounts of fibre, protein and good, unsaturated fats. By appropriate, I mean stay within the recommended range for your body. These nutrients can keep your hunger sensations under control. Bad (saturated and trans) fats do as well, but you are also getting a concentrated dose of calories along with it, plus the negative effect it has on your cardiovascular system. It’s best to keep bad fats to an absolute minimum.
The other way to keep your hunger under control is to refrain from a lot of sugary carbs. Making choices to eat vegetables or whole wheat foods instead of whites are examples of ways to avoid the surge and crashes associated with sugary foods. These crashes send signals to your body that activate your hunger sensations far more than necessary.
Finally, once you know what you are eating and making better food choices, be sure to plan your meals in advance. We tend to eat poorly when faced with a time crunch, and we often reach for the more convenient options. If preparation time is a problem, try making a few meals at a time. I usually cook meals for three days at a time and just store them in the fridge. By doing this, I’ve made a convenient option that is also healthy.
The most important thing to remember is that you are doing yourself no favours by starving yourself. You want to maintain your activity and continue to be productive in your everyday life. As such, be sure to only aim for a reasonable calorie deficit and get a good balance of the nutrients your body needs. Any diet that asks you to cut out something completely is both unreasonable and not going to teach you how to integrate healthy eating into your lifestyle.
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