• Amy McGuire

Best Foods & Strategies for Weight Loss

Some of the most searched phrases in Google include “Fat Burning Foods”, “How to Lose Weight” and “Foods to Avoid for Weight Loss”. Unfortunately, the most common results retrieved are a far cry from what is valid or sustainable.

Far too often, we aim to restrict certain foods or food groups from our diet with the goal to reduce weight and banish belly fat. Following this restrictive pattern can lead to a plethora of unhealthy consequences and often, any weight that is lost is not maintained in the long term.

The best approach to take is inclusive, rather than exclusive, and here are my 10 top tips:

1. Protein – Protein comes from the Greek word proteios meaning primary or comes first. When planning your meals, always ensure that you include a protein source such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, Quorn etc. This will help to fill you up and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

2. Fruit & Vegetables - Aside from the multitude of nutrients within fruit and vegetables, these foods also contain a high-water content and fibre, which again will help satiate you. Always aim to include at least 1 portion of fruit or vegetables at every meal and snack where possible. In fact, the most recent advice is that we should include 10 portions of plant based foods in our diet per day!

3. Fluid - The signal sent to the brain to indicate that we are thirsty is very similar to the hunger signal. So, often we can think that we are hungry when we are in fact thirsty! As you can imagine, this often leads to overeating and subsequent weight gain over time. Aiming for 500ml of fluid before every meal is a good starting point, progressing to 1litre for every 25kg we weigh (2 litre if you weigh 50kg; 3 litre if you weigh 75kg and so on). As a rule, aim to drink more water than any other fluid throughout the day.

4. Sleep - This is the most potent, yet underestimated factor in weight gain. Poor quality and insufficient sleep duration can lead to an imbalance in hormones which can result in increased hunger and weight gain. It is recommended that you get 7-9 hours of shut eye each night or grab a cat nap during the day to offset the deficit.

5. Fibre – We are encouraged to consume 25-30g of fibre per day. Approximately 80% of Irish people don't achieve this! Foods that contain >6g of fibre per 100g are considered high in fibre. Examples include wholegrain bread, raspberries, Branflakes and oats, to name a few. One of the many benefits of a fibre rich diet is that it helps to stabilise our blood sugars, which can reduce excessive cravings throughout the day.

6. Healthy Fats - Similar to protein and fibre rich foods, healthy fats help to create a balanced diet which in turn can stabilise blood sugars and make meals more satisfying. Good sources of fats include oily fish such as salmon, avocados, nuts & seeds. A serving of healthy fats is approximately a thumb sized amount to be enjoyed at each meal.

7. Plan Ahead – A lot of the time, we reach for convenient foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories when we don’t have something more substantial prepared. It’s not always feasible to freshly prepare meals and snacks, so it’s a good idea to cook/prepare meals and snacks in batches when possible. If you often find that you skip breakfast on Tuesdays because you’re late to bed Monday night why not prepare 2-3 batches of overnight oats on Sunday night so you can grab and go if needed?

8. Limit liquid calories – We often underestimate how easy it is to overconsume calories when they are in liquid form. Whilst I’m not suggesting you scrap your morning coffee, I am encouraging you to be mindful of how many Mocha Frappucinos with whipped cream you indulge in on a consistent basis.

9. What’s your default - There will be times that you will find yourself ravenous in a petrol station, in dire need for something to tide you over. What is your default, or your go to? Is it a banana? Is it a king-size Snickers? My personal favourite is a Glenisk Go20 yoghurt – it’s high protein, low fat and has some chocolate chips to really hit the sweet spot!

10. Treat Yo’Self – Food really is one of life’s simple pleasures and it should be enjoyed. To avoid the restrict-binge pattern, always allow for foods that you consider a treat as part of your lifestyle.

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