People like me have lower metabolism weight, hence we tend to go on an extreme diet to cut down on our calorie intake in order to lose weight. Yes, we probably need to cut down on about 500 calories per day to lose at shed at least 1-2 pounds of weight. However, here’s a quick fact: the more extreme your diet routine is, the more ineffective it will be.
And the reason why? Because starvation can lead to the decrease of your metabolic rate.
1) Your body will go into conservation (or starvation) mode and it will stop burning calories for you. AND THAT IS NOT GOOD. Yep, our body does burn calories even when we are at sedantary position. Digestive metabolism (or thermic effect of food) for example, helps you to burn 10-15 percent of your daily calorie intake (that equates to about 250kcal if your suggested daily calorie intake is 2200kcal).
2) Starving yourself will also lead to losing your lean body mass, which is your muscles. You won’t burn as much fats in the end. Muscle actually helps to increase your metabolic rate. Research has shown that 1 pound of muscle actually burns between 7 to 10 calories per day. In contrast, a pound of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories.
So what should we do instead? If eating too much gains weight yet going on an extreme diet doesn’t work as well, there must be the golden mean. Balance your diet. I know we heard that a lot from the dietitian, Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s advertisements and fitness literature, but how do we get about making sure we eat enough yet lose weight as well?
(Header image: Athleta)
Increase intake of high-fiber foods
These include your cereals, fresh vegetables, and whole wheat bread, etc. High-fiber foods are found to contain appetite-suppressant, which will make us more satiated and reduce our tendency to snack. This, in turn, will help with the regulation of your blood sugar level and also cholesterol level – which in turns help to improve your metabolism.
It is recommended that adults take 30 grams of fibre each day.
Personallu, in order to make sure that I am retrieving the necessary amount of fibre that my body requires each day, I’ve, in fact, replaced my rice for oatmeal completely.
I have my daily serving of Quaker Instant Oatmeal in the afternoon to go with my other side dishes. A serving of the oatmeal (35g) consists of just 129kcal and 3.5g of dietary fibre. I normally have 4-6 tablespoons, which kind of tally up to about 1.5 – 2 servings.
To add on to the list of benefits, a high-fibre diet can also reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
However, if you’ve decided to make the switch, it is recommended to increase your fibre intake a little at a time to prevent fluctuant and bloating due to the excessive gas forming inside your stomach. It will not be that comfortable, trust me.
Don’t eat only when you are famished, but when you are hungry
As mentioned above, starvation can lead to the decrease in your metabolism. Scientifically, metabolism refers to ‘the amount of energy expended by an organism in a given time period – usually daily‘. To put it in layman term, it is the amount of energy burnt by your body to function.
For weight loss, we will need to focus on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – how much energy your body burns when it is at rest. Weight loss is simple mathematics – you’ll just need to burn more energy than your body consume. Hence, it is better to increase your overall BMR so that you can achieve weight loss without embarking on a torturous fitness campaign.
Believe it or not, the timing and frequency of which you have your food determine how much energy your body burns throughout the day.
It is important to understand the difference between famish and hunger. Famish is when you go through a long period without eating, which is especially that case when you ‘eat by schedule’. Our three meals schedule that we are most familiar with are in fact about 6 hours apart. Yet, your body requires enough fuel to produce the energy that we require.
The benefits of snack when you are hungry in between your meals (but don’t snack an hour and a half before your meal) is to prevent you from becoming famished by the time of your meal. We tend to overeat when we become over-hungry. If you are afraid of those extra calories, start drinking your plain water. Water helps to keep you full – it works for me most of the time. This will help in preventing your body to go into the conservation mode that I’ve mentioned earlier.
Of course, the kind of food that you’ve decided to snack on is as important as well. You don’t want to let your efforts go down the drain.
If you get hungry in between meals, opt for healthier snacks. Choose those with more fiber and protein and most importantly, lesser calories. Make it a habit of reading the nutrition label, and avoiding munching on snacks that are high in trans-fats and calories. If you are like me who needs a daily dose of chocolate to kerb the stress levels, feel free to opt for dark chocolate. My favourite would be the 75% dark chocolate. It contains more cocoa which helps to make you feel happier. When you are less stress, you won’t go for emotional eating.
If you are like me who needs a daily dose of chocolate to kerb the stress levels, feel free to opt for dark chocolate. My favourite would be the 75% dark chocolate. It contains more cocoa which helps to make you feel happier. When you are less stress, you won’t go for emotional eating.
I also go for nuts whenever I feel hungry. Nuts are very good source of protein and can help to control your appetite as well. Furthermore, it contains the unsaturated fats (more on that in a while).
Take your fats
You didn’t read it wrongly. Go ahead and eat the fats.
However, you have to choose the correct kind of fats. There are 3 kinds of fats:
- Saturated fatsFound mostly in red meat and dairy products, saturated fats are not as healthy as the unsaturated ones but it is not exactly bad for the body either.
- Trans fatsThese are the fats that are bad for your body and will sabotage your plans entirely. Studies have shown that industrially-produced trans fats made from hydrogenated oils are linked to greater risk of death from coronary heart disease.
- Unsaturated fats (Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
These are the healthy kind of fats that you should be including in your diet. Unsaturated fats promote satiety, hence reducing after-meal cravings. It can be found in nuts (as mentioned previously), certain fishes such as tuna and salmon, olives and avocados. I would like to give Omega-3 fatty acids a special mention. These fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These polyunsaturated fats are commonly found in fishes and are especially beneficial to our human body if the right amount is taken.
In a study done by Bastard et el in 2006, low-grade inflammation of the white adipose tissue (where energy not used by the body are stored as fats) can lead to obesity, and subsequently, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerant and even diabetes. Omega-3 will help to reduce such inflammation and thus helps control fat deposits in your body. It has also been proven that Omega-3 can help to build lean muscle when you take it as a supplement to your exercise routine. This is extremely important to your weight loss programme because a pound of muscle burns more energy than a pound of fats! It will hence provide a boost towards your BMR as well.
Although unsaturated fats can be beneficial, yet it should be taken with moderation. It must be noted that there are some polyunsaturated fats like the Omega-6, despite its positive health effects, will cause the body to produce pro-inflammatory substances when taken excessively. Hence, a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake in the ratio of between 1:1 and 1:4 is recommended.
According to dietary recommendation by the HPB, total fat intake should be limited to 25-30% of your total calorie intake – 10% of which from your saturated fats and the remainder from unsaturated fats.
There’s no need to rush when you are eating. Enjoy the taste of the delicacy as it is being brought into your month. Studies have shown that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register that we have eaten enough (satiation). Hence, the best way to prevent overeating is to eat relatively slowly.
Another research by Andrade et el (2012) has found out that, the most advisable strategy to maximise satiation and regulate energy intake is to allow yourself time to ‘drink sufficient quantities of water along with a given meal while slowing down eating rate’.
I’ve tried it personally as well – the slower you eat, the faster you’ll feel full (although I still eat faster than most of my peers).