Do your clothes feel too tight, is your BMI too high or do you just want to feel more comfortable in your body? Perhaps it’s time to do something about it. Every January, thousands of people vow to kick-start the New Year by losing weight. Weight loss has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. Do you want to lose a bit of weight or have a specific weight loss goal?
Let’s be honest, beginning is always the hardest part. The road to reaching your ideal weight will have its ups and downs. You will notice that just eating healthier won’t do that much. And what happens when you’ve reached your ideal weight? How do you maintain it for the rest of your life? We have some tips to help you reach and keep your weight loss goals.
The downsides of an unhealthy diet
In the past few decades, our eating pattern has gotten unhealthier. Supermarket shelves are filled with convenience foods, such as ready meals, savoury snacks and sweets. These foods are very high in sugar, salt, saturated fats and processed cereal grains. Sugary and fatty foods taste good, but they also make you fat. Why is that?
- When you overload on sugar and salt, your body holds onto more water, and thus more weight.
- Sugar and white grain products cause your blood sugar levels to rise quickly and then crash, making you feel tired and unsatisfied. As a result, you’ll find yourself wanting to eat more, often unhealthy, foods.
- Food that are rich in saturated fats such as butter, whipped cream and cheese contain a lot of calories. Too much saturated fat can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries. This can cause atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which is a leading cause of severe health issues such as heart attack and brain haemorrhage.
Research shows that eating heavily processed foods makes you eat more (NOS, 2019). If you want to lose weight and feel more energetic, then eating fresh foods is the way to go.
Healthy food for a healthy weight
Feeling good starts with eating right. This means saying farewell to sweets, snacks and ready-made meals. So, what makes your body happy?
- Fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re trying to lose weight and be healthier, fruit and vegetables are your best friends. Fruit and vegetables are low in calories, but high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Make sure your diet especially includes lots of vegetables, at least 300 grams a day (500 grams is even better). Add two pieces of fruit a day and you’re well on your way to a healthy diet. Now before you say, ‘I don’t really like vegetables’ or ‘fruit and vegetables are boring’, we’re not suggesting that you only nibble on carrot sticks. How about a strawberry-blue berry smoothie and a kiwi for breakfast? A meal salad with spinach, avocado and grilled pepper for lunch? And stir-fried sugar snaps with garlic and sesame oil for dinner? The possibilities are endless!
- Proteins. Proteins are important for muscle growth and repair. They also reduce appetite and keep you feeling full longer. This is because it takes longer for your stomach and intestines to digest proteins compared to carbohydrates. Healthy proteins can be found in nuts, eggs, quark, and lean meat such as poultry.
- Calcium. Calcium-rich foods keep your bones and teeth strong. Dairy products are therefore an essential part of a healthy diet. It is best to opt for low-fat or semi-skimmed options if you want to keep your calorie intake in check. Avoid eating fatty cheese and choose cheese spread or low-fat cheese instead.
- Healthy fats. Unsaturated fats are good for you. They contain Vitamin A, E and D and unsaturated fatty acids, a kind of fatty acid that helps keep your blood vessels supple and your eyes, heart, skin and brain healthy. Foods that are high in unsaturated fats include fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), vegetable oil, low-fat margarine, avocados, nuts and seeds.
- Fibre. Your digestive system needs fibre. Fibre is found in foods like vegetables, fruit and legumes, but also in wholemeal products. Fibre helps push waste out and thus prevents constipation. Wholemeal pasta, wholemeal bread and brown rice also help keep your blood sugar from rising. They don’t make you feel tired or leave you craving for sugary foods like white grain products do.
Just be sure to keep portions small and in-between snacks to a minimum. Unfortunately, you cannot eat unlimited amounts of healthy foods and still lose weight!
Eat less, drink more
It sounds pretty basic but many people forget that drinking plenty of water is very important. Water is necessary to carry away waste products more quickly. The more water you drink, the more frequently you’ll go to the toilet, and the more weight you lose. Water also fills up the stomach, which is the reason we feel full after drinking water. We recommend drinking at least two litres of water a day. If you’re not a huge fan of water, then tea without sugar or sugar-free sodas are a good alternative. Coffee without sugar also counts as a fluid.
Avoid fluids such as alcoholic beverages and fruit juices. They are loaded with liquid calories and are not a healthy option.
Why exercise helps
Your body needs fuel to work. Even when your body is still, your body is still using up fuel. An average woman with a normal activity level needs about 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight. This is about 2,500 calories for an average man.
If you take up a sport in addition to your daily activities, your body needs more calories. If the food you eat does not supply the calories your body needs, your body will start to burn existing fat reserves. The stored fat is then converted into energy. Playing sports or exercising is an excellent way to use up more fuel, provided it is combined with a healthy diet.
So, it’s a great idea to exercise regularly. This doesn’t mean that you have to work out on the treadmill every day. Long walks are also good for burning some extra calories. Or pull weeds in the garden, wash your car or go cycling.
Healthier and less heavy
Have you changed your eating habits and integrated exercise into your daily routine? Then it won’t take long before you will start to feel healthier. Your energy level will rise, you’ll be less tired and you will feel physically better and healthier. Your clothes will feel less tight and when you step on the scale you’ll notice that you’ve lost weight. All this because you forgot about dieting and only focused on changing your lifestyle for the better. Well done and enjoy what you have accomplished!
Help with losing weight
There are professionals who can support you in your weight loss journey. A doctor can also provide support and, if desired, prescribe medication to help you to lose weight. Do you need help, or would you like to talk to a doctor? At Dokteronline.com it is possible to consult a doctor from the comfort of your home.
Anderzorg. (n.d.). Afvallen: minder eten of meer sporten? (Losing weight: eat less or exercise more?) Consulted on 26 July 2019 on https://www.anderzorg.nl/prikbord/i-am-a-foodie/afvallen-minder-eten-of-meer-sporten
NOS. (2019, 17 May). Zwaar bewerkt voedsel zorgt ervoor dat je meer gaat eten (Heavily processed foods make you eat more). Consulted on 26 July 2019 on https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2285179-zwaar-bewerkt-voedsel-zorgt-ervoor-dat-je-meer-gaat-eten.html
Santé. (n.d.). Waarom moet je water drinken als je wilt afvallen? (Why drink water when losing weight?) Consulted on 26 July 2019 on https://www.sante.nl/gezondheid/lijstjes-en-tips/waarom-moet-je-water-drinken-als-je-wilt-afvallen
Thuisarts. (2017, 30 June). Ik heb overgewicht (I’m overweight). Consulted on 28 July 2019 on https://www.thuisarts.nl/overgewicht/ik-heb-overgewicht
Thuisarts. (2018, 4 February). Ik wil gezond eten (I want to eat healthily). Consulted on 26 July 2019 on https://www.thuisarts.nl/gezonde-levensstijl/ik-wil-gezond-eten
Voedingscentrum. (n.d.). Spelregel 1: Gezonder eten om af te vallen (Rule 1: eat healthier to lose weight). Consulted on 26 July 2019 on https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/nl/mijn-gewicht/afvallen/spelregel-1-gezonder-eten-om-af-te-vallen.aspx