Two (often overlooked) diet factors that will actually help you reach your long term weight loss goals.
There are countless weight loss diets and theories, and they all claim life changing results. Most of them do work when taken on with dedication and willpower, but what is the real secret to long term success? In this article, we’ll discuss 2 key diet factors that are often not taken into consideration when dieting, and that will help you succeed.
You only need to walk through the Health & Lifestyle Section of a bookstore, or perform a Google search on the topic, to get an idea of just how many diets there are available to us. Every year, several new diet theories are released, all claiming to be the final solution to successful weight loss.
Some of the most popular diets at the moment are keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, whole30, the volumetric diet, the DASH diet, and the Mediterranean diet. These are just a drop in the ocean of weight loss methods. Why is it, that with so many resources available to us, so many people are still struggling to lose weight?
What is the key to successful weight loss and how do we keep the weight off?
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but the truth is there is no magic diet plan. However, there are two key factors which are often overlooked, that will help you follow a diet successfully and help you with weight management.
It should come as no surprise that a temporary change in diet habits, only leads to a temporary change in weight. The challenge that most people face is keeping the weight, that they’ve worked so hard to lose, off. If you reach your goal weight and then resume your former eating habits, you’ll find your weight will creep up again, and before you know it you’ll be close to where you started.
This is frustrating and can lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting which is demotivating and unhealthy. Often, the quick fix diets are not nutritionally balanced and cut out important food groups, making them hard to sustain in the long run. What’s more, the majority of people who use quick fix diets to lose weight, regain up to 65% of the weight within a year. (1)
So, what’s the secret to successful long term weight loss? It’s maintaining the diet without slipping back to your previous eating pattern, and we’re going to tell you how below.
Note: If you’re reading this thinking, “I don’t care about the long term, I just want to lose weight now and I want it fast!” then please stay tuned for our upcoming article, ‘How to Lose Weight Fast’. There you’ll find all the information you need for quick weight loss. If, however, you’re ready to get rid of your excess body fat once and for all, then please keep reading!
Science suggests that the diet you follow doesn’t matter that much, as long as you stick to it and continue to have a calorie deficit over time, you’ll see results (2) . It sounds easier said than done, right? No worries, we’re here to help!
For successful, long term weight loss, there are 2 Key Points we have to take into account:
- In order to maintain a calorie deficit over time, it needs to be easy and enjoyable.
- Some diets are healthier than others, so which diet is best?
The first key point to maintaining long term weight loss is maintainability. If we could rely on willpower to stick to a diet, it would be easy! But we can’t, our willpower is limited. It’s pretty easy to maintain a diet for a week, but to stay on track to it for a month, or even a whole year? That’s really hard!
Let’s look at a few points that make a diet easier to follow:
A diet that successfully satisfies your appetite will help you manage your hunger.
If you’re constantly feeling hungry and craving sweets, you will eventually cave in. By eating the right foods to keep you feeling full for a longer amount of time, you’ll be less likely to feel the urge to reach for a snack.
Foods that are very helpful at suppressing cravings are those high in protein and fiber. By starting your day off with a protein-rich breakfast such as eggs, rather than a high-carbohydrate meal such as a bagel, you will feel full for a longer stretch of time (3) .
Fiber has a similar effect as it expands in the stomach slowing down its digestion rate, which influences the release of the ‘fullness’ hormone (4), (5). Some fiber rich foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and legumes.
How can we easily add protein and fiber into each meal?
To successfully curb your appetite throughout the day, try to include protein and fiber in every meal. Below are some good sources of protein and fiber.
Some good sources of protein are:
- Meat & fish – grass fed or organically sourced where possible;
- Eggs & full-fat dairy – especially Greek yogurt;
- Plant based options – nuts, legumes and protein-rich whole grains such as oats or quinoa (technically quinoa is a seed, but it’s often regarded and treated as a grain).
Some high fiber foods which are easily incorporated into your diet are:
- Vegetables – dark leafy and brassicas such as broccoli and cauliflower are great options;
- Seeds – chia seeds, pumpkin seeds etc., add to salads, yogurt and smoothies;
- Berries – add to your breakfast or enjoy for dessert;
- Nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews, just to name a few.
Notice that the above suggestions are single ingredient foods, not processed factory foods. Find a comprehensive list of the 20 Best Foods for Successful Weight Loss here for inspiration!
You should be able to enjoy a treat from time to time.
We’ve all been there, we’re on a diet but it’s a special birthday or celebration. What do we do when the champagne and cake come out? We can either be strong and decline the offer, which takes a lot of willpower, or we can say – Ok, I’ve been really good this week, I can have a small glass of champagne and a sliver of cake to mark the occasion. Both options are OK.
If you’re at the beginning of your diet and you have a supportive group of friends and family, then they will happily accept your stance and won’t coax you to have a slice anyway. Give yourself a pat on the back for your willpower!
If you are further down the weight loss road, and have lost a significant amount of weight already, you know that one cheat won’t hurt. You are in control of your decisions, so be mindful and savor the moment. This doesn’t mean to declare the rest of the day a ‘cheat day’, and don’t choose to wait until the next day, or the next Monday, to restart your diet. Resume your diet plan with the next meal. This will keep you on track and keep you from feeling discouraged.
You should still be able to enjoy a variety of meals.
Some people don’t really care what they eat and can eat the same meal for lunch every day. For these people, a soup and salad will be easy to stick to. Other people really enjoy food and love a lot of variation in their diet.
Variation is important, not just in terms of getting a wide range of nutrients, but also because it will stop you from getting bored. So experiment with different vegetables and try new ways of cooking, you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be to whip up a delicious, healthy meal. You’ll find some healthy recipes in our 28-Day Holistic Meal Plan!
Either way, it’s unlikely that you will enjoy the prospect of eating salad for the rest of your life. What else can we do to make our diet easier to follow and more enjoyable to eat, so that you can stick to it in the long run?
Tip 1: Reduce the cooking effort.
Double or triple the quantity of what you’re cooking to stretch it to another meal. Pack one portion in the freezer for those days when you don’t have the time or energy to cook. You’ll be happy it’s there and it will avoid you choosing a less healthy alternative.
Tip 2: Take half to-go.
If you enjoy eating out from time to time, ask the server for a to-go box and pack half the meal before you start eating. You’ll consume half the calories AND have another meal to look forward to.
How Different Diets Can Affect your Health
The second key point which is often overlooked by dieters, is the health effects of different diet methods.
As we mentioned earlier, it really doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you are achieving a caloric deficit you will lose weight. It’s important to understand that eating 1200 calories a day worth of cookies, processed foods and sugar, will have different effects on your health than 1200 calories a day worth of vegetables and healthy sources of protein and fiber.
Weight Loss = Calories IN < Calories OUT
Both tactics will result in weight loss, but a sugary and nutritionally empty diet will leave you feeling lethargic, craving more unhealthy foods and won’t help you make the lifestyle change that is necessary for long term success. The sugary diet also puts you at increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and digestive issues.
On the other hand, a nutritious diet with plenty of fresh, whole foods will leave you feeling energetic and lean, and will reduce your risk of disease and improve your overall health!
The Diet We Recommend – and Why!
The weight loss diet that has shown consistent best results with our clients, is an all-natural low-carb diet.
A low-carb diet restricts, but doesn’t prohibit, the intake of carbohydrates. Instead, a low-carb diet favors foods high in protein and fiber, with a little bit of carbs allowed here and there.
When considering a low-carb diet, you may at first think – what CAN I eat? It’s so common in our culture to have cereal for breakfast (carbs), a sandwich for lunch (carbs again!) and a plate of pasta for dinner (more carbs!).
Vegetables and healthy proteins often take a back seat and are more of a condiment than a main feature on the plate. Let’s flip that way of thinking, and make vegetables the star, protein the supporting actor, and carbs the condiment.
But as you can see from our points made earlier, there is so much choice on the low-carb diet! You can eat all the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds that you want. You can have eggs, full-fat dairy, meat, fish and even legumes.
Why are we nixing the carbs and focusing on protein and fiber? It’s not necessarily because they’re lower in calories, but we’re looking at the quality of calories. Calorie for calorie, you will feel full more quickly with a high fiber and/or high protein food, than you will with a food high in refined carbs such as a bagel 6, 7, 8.
If our appetites are satisfied, we will experience fewer cravings. This will mean we’re less likely to reach for a snack or other empty calories, and this reduction in calories consumed will lead to weight loss.
Sticking to a Low-Carb Diet
As you can see, a diet high in protein and fiber will still leave you with a huge choice of food to choose from. You can prepare delicious meals which are packed with nutrients and minerals, not only helping your weight loss goals but also improving your overall health!
The great thing about a low-carb diet is also that it leaves room for the occasional treat. It’s not restrictive and doesn’t cut out entire food groups. With the keto diet for example, (a very low-carb, high fat diet) if you have a carb-heavy treat it will throw you out of ketosis (the fat-burning mode which is ‘turned on’ by the diet) and it takes a day or two to get back into it. This makes a diet like this very hard to stick to long-term.
The same applies to diets which rely on calorie counting. Not only are they difficult to follow because you have to log every single thing you eat, but they don’t particularly focus on healthy foods. You could be counting 1200 calories a day of carbs and sweets. Will you lose weight? You will! But you’ll feel tired and unhealthy. A much better plan is to follow a natural, low carb diet which focuses on real food nutrients and teaches you how to eat well for life.
To get an idea of what a natural, low-carb diet plan looks like, have a look at our 28-Day Holistic Meal Plan. We are sharing this for FREE for a limited time. It’s a great resource to use either as inspiration or to follow to challenge yourself. As no one diet is suitable for everybody, we have three different calorie plans, 1250, 1500 and 2000. Each one has simple breakfast, lunch and dinner suggestions, as well as a few snacks, so you won’t be hungry!
If you have any questions about this, or any other, article, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re here to help you along the way!