Weight loss = calorie intake < calorie consumption
The calculation is actually so simple. And yet so difficult to implement, especially in everyday life.
To lose weight healthily, you need three things: sleep, proper nutrition and sufficient exercise. Starting today, I will devote myself to the second point, the right diet. There are the following four possible starting points:
- stimulate metabolism
- fasting or interval fasting for a more radical change and fast results
- change diet (no fast food, no processed food)
- introduce fixed times
On the first point, each of us has a different metabolism. While some can eat as much as they want, others gain weight at the very sight of the piece of cake. The causes here are many: it depends on what you eat (for example, highly processed products and fast food). How much you exercise. And what package you have to carry genetically. A healthy intestine should also be mentioned here, because after all, digestion takes place in it. To help the metabolism on the jump, some things have proven themselves. This includes, for example, a lemon water in the morning (among many other benefits, it stimulates digestion and helps detoxify and deacidify – caution: do not prepare with hot water, because vitamin C is already destroyed from 40 ° C), green tea (the bitter substances inhibit ravenous appetite and the basal metabolic rate is increased, because the body produces more heat after consumption) and black coffee (with emphasis on „black“, also here the so-called thermogenesis takes place, ie heat development, which provides additional calorie consumption) . Drinking enough is indispensable anyway, after all, our body consists of 70% water. In addition, drinking – and here is really only water and the above-mentioned drinks and unsweetened tea meant – helps against emerging hunger pangs. Hot spices can also support (again, keyword thermogenesis, below you will find more details). Sleep and exercise – of course. And proteins!
Do you know the „thermic effect?“
Our bodies use energy to digest nutrients. Sometimes more, and sometimes a little less. As much as a quarter of the calories you get from protein go to breaking down or transforming that protein so it can be absorbed. And in the process, even heat is generated.
In addition, proteins have two other crucial advantages:
➡️ they provide for the supply of the musculature, help it to maintain and/or develop.
➡️ Proteins make longer full, because they stabilize the blood sugar level and provide so for a good saturation feeling.
If you want to lose weight healthily, you cannot avoid adjusting your protein intake. By the way, we recommend 0.8 to 1g of protein per kg of body weight per day. For a body weight of 60kg this would be at least 48g protein. Especially with a (mainly) vegetarian or vegan diet you have to pay special attention to this.
By the way, healthy proteins are legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds and some vegetables like broccoli or potatoes. And, of course, the old favorites: Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
Let’s get to the most important part about the plan:
The balanced and sufficient diet. This may sound a bit confusing, because if you didn’t eat enough, losing weight wouldn’t be an issue at all, would it? And yet, if you have ever been the victim of a raging hunger attack, you will have made this mistake at some point during the day.
The fatal thing is: Our body is a creature of habit. It is sluggish. It does not want to lose weight. Losing weight scares it. It has settled in at its feel-good kilos (its, not yours), has made itself comfortable and wants to keep them. At any price. So we have to make it palatable for him.
Diets are a dime a dozen. And if you’ve never done one, cast the first stone. But to lose kilos permanently with a diet is almost an impossibility. I say „almost“ because there are still the disciplined among us.
Take fasting, for example, item 2 on the list above. And I mean the nasty fast, one where you completely give up calories. After about three to four days, glucogen reserves have been depleted and the body is forced to turn to its fat reserves to provide energy (yes, some muscle mass has to believe in this as well, but this loss can be put into perspective with training). Of course, the body does not like all this, because it wants to keep its weight. Depending on the duration of the fasting period and depending on the calorie requirement, a woman loses about 170g to 250g of fat per day (formula = calorie consumption: 9kcal per gram). Pure fat! Possibly the weight loss effect is even greater, but the rest should be water (especially with low-salt fasting). Well, one thing should not be forgotten: Fasting is quite healthy. It has a rejuvenating and regenerating effect, it cleanses the body, lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and much more. And it was actually not „invented“ to lose weight. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used fasting for health reasons, and in many religions it has been used for thousands of years to purify the soul. So it is not a newfangled diet, and at the same time you can assume that the positive effects are not limited to losing weight.
After four days or even after seven or after ten, the fasting period is over and one goes back to the normal diet. If this happens without a transition period and you return to the lifestyle that got you this far after all, the following happens: The body, for which abstaining from food means stress, is happy to get the calories from outside again. It begins to fill up its stores. And to hoard the calories. Just in case the owner might get the stupid idea again.
How can this be avoided? Avoiding it altogether is difficult. But there are definitely a few does & don’ts to follow.
For one: Rethink your previous eating plan. Was it sweets that got you here? Was it fast food? Lemonade, the obligatory Coke at lunch? Alcohol is also no friend of diets (as long as alcohol is in the blood, no fat loss takes place – so much for wine in the evening on the sofa, even without snacks!). After days of drinking water or water-tea-broth, maybe instead of the candy bar it may be dried fruit? I always have dried apricots and dried prunes in the fridge. And a whole bar of chocolate? Please, not all at once. Try having a rib. And as high a cocoa content as possible, since less sugar. Speaking of sugar: water is the ideal thirst quencher! There is no better one. Period. By the way, a food diary is ideal to find out your personal „traps“.
Secondly: Your sense of smell and taste are now sharpened after days of abstinence. Everything tastes better. Even the vegetables! Use the natural flavor enhancer, do without the greasy sauces and tons of cheese. This is the ideal time to ban fast food and industrial food from your diet.
Short digression on fast food:
Even children now know that it’s unhealthy. But why is that? For one thing, fast food – and by that I mean burgers, fries, pizza, kebabs and the like – contains particularly high levels of unhealthy fat, sugar and salt, and hardly any vital substances. For example, a cheeseburger has 275 kcal. If we add a medium fry with 435 kcal, it is more or less a meal. Including ketchup and mayo, this brings the total to around 750 kcal. But now there are two decisive things: The nutrient density for fat and carbohydrates is very high in our example, i.e. the meal is relatively compact in terms of calories. Besides the 750 kcal, we also had 34g of fat. And this is the unhealthy one, which increases the cholesterol level. But the food does not make you full for a long time, because it simply lacks volume. The carbohydrates also go into the blood quickly because the body has no other nutrients (like fiber, vitamins and minerals) to digest. This causes insulin levels to rise very quickly. The flip side of the coin is, as soon as the insulin level drops again (which will happen relatively quickly), we are hungry again. In addition, a maximum of 65g of fat per day is recommended for an adult woman. The amount from burgers and fries thus already takes up half. The situation is similar with industrially processed products: As healthy as a ready-made soup may seem, it has about as much in common with a homemade one as a hot air balloon has with a train. Heavily processed foods often have hardly any healthy nutrients, but instead contain sugar, fat and salt as flavor carriers and numerous artificial additives that are suspected of being partly responsible for the diseases of civilization (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.). Basically, the shorter the ingredient list, the better, and without all the E’s, please.
Third, don’t start too fast. Get your stomach used to the smaller portions. Especially if that was an issue for you before. Everything else will come naturally anyway.
Fourth, stay balanced! Make sure you eat fresh fruits and especially vegetables. And pay attention to protein, too, at every meal. I have already explained why (by the way, studies have shown that the yo-yo effect after a diet can only be controlled with a protein-rich diet).
Fifth, don’t forget that you lost body weight after fasting. This means that your basal metabolic rate has dropped. If you now eat the same amounts as before, the fat stores will be overfilled. Because it is now simply too much.
If you want to try fasting, I recommend that you first have a check-up with your family doctor, especially if you have physical complaints. Fasting is great for changing habits and forcing a kick start. And it doesn’t cost anything. Really, it doesn’t. However: it also takes so much discipline!
For those who don’t think much of strict fasting: Try interval fasting, such as 16:8, which means fasting for 16 hours (only calorie-free drinks like water, tea and black coffee are allowed) and eating for 8 hours. It doesn’t have to be every day either. The effect is still noticeable. Provided, of course, you don’t overdo it during the 8 hours and strictly adhere to the meal breaks (coffee with milk is a fast-breaker, by the way!).
And the fourth point, the fixed times? A supposed contradiction to interval fasting, isn’t it? Well, not everyone is the same. While some people manage wonderfully with two large meals a day, others need rather more often smaller portions spread throughout the day. The important thing is that at the end of the day there is a minus in the calorie balance, not how you get to the minus. Even if you are the type to eat more meals, because otherwise you develop too strong a ravenous appetite, pay attention to the following details:
- Make sure you’re getting enough protein at every meal. If you eat at least 50g of protein per day, this would be around 10g per meal, if you also include snacks in between meals. Protein makes you feel fuller for longer and ensures a more stable blood sugar level.
- Nevertheless, make sure that there are enough gaps between meals to allow the insulin to drop again. This is the only way the body can draw its energy from your fat reserves. Three to five hours, depending on the portion size, are recommended.
- Often, everyday life is so stressful with appointments, children or other activities that we forget meals or don’t take the time to eat „properly“. The result: we develop a ravenous appetite and eat twice as much the next time, and preferably the unhealthy stuff too, because the body craves fat and sugar. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to always have something small with you to bridge the gap between meals. For example, pack a protein bar (sugar-free) in your purse, or take some nuts with you (almonds and Brazil nuts are not only high in protein, but also healthy and filling).
So what does it look like in reality?
Start small. For example, by drinking a large glass of water before eating to fill your stomach in advance. Compensate for large meals, such as a family dinner, by skipping breakfast the next day, giving your body more time to use up the calories from the night before. Basically, losing weight is always about negative calorie balance, so only those who eat fewer calories than they consume will lose weight. Buy less sweets! If there’s nothing, it can’t be eaten. And cheating (with delivery service) does not apply. And last but not least: Pay attention to proteins. They are important for muscle maintenance, and more muscle means higher basal metabolic rate, since muscle requires more energy than fat. Analyze your fat consumption. Many people drown their food in oil. Even if it is the „good“ olive oil: too much is too much. You don’t have to give it up right away, just reduce it. Does it have to be a 5 mm high butter layer on the bread or is a very thin one enough? Do you really want 200g of butter and 200g of sugar (with only 150g of flour) in the cake or is 20-30 percent less enough? Save at the beginning everywhere, where it „hurts“ you least. Not by doing without (because doing without again means stress and directing your focus on food), but by making small changes in your everyday life. Drop the bad habits little by little, not all at once.
Observe yourself: When do you eat too much? In company? Alone? When you are sad or on the contrary, in a happy mood? What happens when you are stressed, do you need more carbohydrates, more sugar or fat? Find your personal triggers (also here: A food diary for two to three days is very informative).
And: Be patient with yourself, friendly! Don’t punish yourself if things don’t work out or you’ve eaten more than you wanted. Start loving your body, even if it’s not in the perfect shape for you yet. It is YOUR body. Your house or temple, depending on how you look at it. Did you go overboard on vacation or stay away from the gym for a while because of an injury? Forgive yourself, it’s okay. Put your focus on the positive things. Turn it around by intentionally taking longer breaks between meals for a few days. Drink more water and tea, skip dessert. But please don’t drive yourself crazy! Because stress is exactly what will prevent you from losing weight in the end.
Define a realistic goal. And I don’t mean I want to go from size 44 down to 36 in six months. What is your feel-good weight? Not the weight of the models and influencers, yours! And not the one when you were 20 and still only ate chips and „Vodka RedBull“. What is your goal, where do you want to go, and what does it take to get there? If you’ve answered that question for yourself, you’re already a lot closer to that goal.
And stop comparing yourself to others. We all know them, the super disciplined women. Maybe they eat a balanced and sufficient diet during the day, and decide to slow down in the evening? Or maybe their body is in constant stress because it always gets too little energy and yet has already gotten used to it. Whatever it is, find your own way. One that you are willing to walk permanently. Do not stress yourself. And also remember: So completely without body fat, it will also be less in the female areas. And the wrinkles will be much more visible…
And yes, with all this: Don’t forget to exercise! But we’ll get to that next time.