Healthy diet or unhealthy diet, you can lose weight with both…What’s the best way to do it?
It seems there is a common misconception among new dieters that in order to lose weight, we are to shift our foods away from processed “unhealthy” foods like chips, burgers, ice cream and cookies to more healthy foods like lean meats, vegetables, salads etc. While it is definitely very beneficial to eat healthier and it makes for a much better functioning body with less inflammation and risk for disease, this isn’t really what makes you lose weight. From a 30,000-foot view, weight loss is solely the result of eating less and burning more calories. For the purposes of weight loss specifically, you could technically just eat less “bad” foods and still lose just as much weight. There are other factors involved as well, but if I had to give a brief answer on how you lose weight, it would be to dec
rease calorie intake and/or increase calorie expenditure (exercise).
So what’s wrong with eating healthier to lose weight? First of all, nothing at all is “wrong” with a dieting consisting of healthy foods. As stated, it helps virtually every body function and possibly most importantly, helps improve gut bacteria which leads to a whole host of health benefits. The problem with just eating healthier is that in doing so, if we don’t combine it with eating LESS, we can’t expect to see much in the way of weight loss. As our bodies get used to a certain calorie intake, we can often end up eating as much or more healthy foods than we did when we were eating a crappy diet. The good news is, healthy foods are generally much less calorie dense so its often easier to eat less, but if you aren’t tracking it, your body may send you unconscious signals that you aren’t full and you end up eating as much or more than you did previously. How often have you heard someone say something to the tune of “I’m eating so healthy but I just can’t lose weight.” This is the principal behind the IIFYM (If It fits your macros) diet, which essentially says you can eat whatever foods you wish, but you are to target a specific number of macronutrients per day, that is carbohydrates, protein and fats.
So what’s the best way to diet to actually lose weight? Well, healthy foods are beneficial for a multitude of reasons, but in order to actually lose weight, you need to limit intake of how much you are eating as well as to get in the proper amount of macro nutrients (high protein, moderate healthy fats and lower carbohydrates). After a week if you didn’t lose weight, bump that amount down, or increase your calorie expenditure to create a deficit in your day. But, yes, you can lose weight even eating crappy foods. The problem is you wont necessarily be healthy and plus these foods are generally so calorie dense that you will be limited to eating very little. In addition to that, it will be hard to hit the ideal amount of protein carbs and fats with junk foods.
The best way I have found to lose weight and stay sane is to eat a base diet that is very healthy. However, allow myself the leeway to eat a cookie here and there. To offset that, I’ll just reduce the calorie intake from something else, like dropping some of the rice or veggies I was eating to make room for the cookie. This way you aren’t terribly restricted and can still lose weight.