Learn which foods to eat and which to avoid if you want to effectively lose weight fast
Whether a rapid weight loss diet is low in carbs or high in protein, whether it comes from Hollywood or Scarsdale—they all have one thing in common: they don’t work for most people. Here’s why.
A diet that’s extremely low in calories makes your body think it is being starved. In response, your body reduces its basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the base amount of energy it burns for essential processes like breathing and generating body heat. This drop happens very quickly, within the first day or so of a significant drop in caloric intake. The bottom line is that no matter how much you cut calories, your body will compensate by ratcheting down the number of calories it needs—so you don’t gain anything by eating less.
But it doesn’t end there. In addition to lowering your BMR, your body also begins storing any additional calories it receives over and above your new BMR in the form of fat. This is a protective mechanism intended to help build up energy reserves. To store this extra fat, the body not only increases the size of existing fat cells, it also increases the number of fat cells you have.
Weight Loss Diet Changes That Maintain BMR
To lose weight effectively and without lowering your BMR, you need to eat certain foods regularly—and that includes fresh, wholesome, organic foods that have low glycemic index (GI) values. You also should be avoiding certain high-glycemic diet devastators, like sugar.
GI is a rating system that compares the way various foods influence your blood sugar levels. The scale runs from 0 to 100, with pure sugar, or glucose, rated at 100. The closer to 100 a food is rated, the more it affects blood sugar levels. Eating high-quality, lower glycemic foods helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable and lessens cravings so you can lose weight. The following categories of food have lower GIs and should become staples in your diet because they provide solid nutrition and energy while supporting weight loss efforts.
Whole grains contain fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as an abundance of vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of lignans, which are plant chemicals that can naturally moderate your hormone levels and contribute to healthy weight loss.
All vegetables have health benefits, but the one group of veggies that truly stands alone is cruciferous—broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, turnips, mustard greens, and rutabagas. These vegetables are phytochemical powerhouses. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds in plants that protect them from the ravages of the environment, such as ultraviolet rays, oxygen, insects, and fungi.
Eat locally grown fruits in season whenever possible because they’ll have the most health-promoting antioxidants and vitamins. Dried or frozen fruits are another option, but stay away from canned fruit, which is usually loaded with sugar.
Legumes include beans and peas—like chickpeas, lentils, and navy beans. Legumes are a great source of low-fat protein, especially when combined with whole grains. They are also high in fiber, and their complex carbohydrates are broken down slowly in the body, which helps with blood sugar regulation.
Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamias, pecans, and Brazil nuts, in particular, are high in fiber and loaded with essential fatty acids—“good” fats that are packed with health benefits.
Eating nuts can improve your blood lipid profiles, reduce your risk of heart disease, ward off depression, and boost your weight loss efforts. In one diet study, when almonds were substituted for complex carbohydrates, weight loss increased and waist circumference decreased. Those eating three ounces of almonds a day for six months lost 18 percent of their body fat, compared to 11 percent in those eating complex carbohydrates.
An overabundance of high-fat dairy products, such as whole milk and cheese, are significant contributors to high cholesterol, heart disease, and even (ironically) bone loss. Also, many people have difficulty digesting dairy foods. But, if your system can handle dairy and you like it, you can add low-fat or skim dairy products judiciously to your eating plan. Make sure to also include soured milk products, like kefir and yogurt, which add all-important healthy bacteria to your digestive system.
When it comes to high-quality protein, fish is near the top of the list. And fatty fish—like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon—are high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure the fish you eat is fresh-caught, not farmed. Farmed fish are fed on grains and grain byproducts, which drastically reduce their healthy fatty acid content.
If you prefer meat in your diet, then add the occasional poultry serving to your meal plan. Stick to free-range birds fed organic feed whenever possible. They’re not only healthier, but tastier, too.
On the whole, keep your red meat consumption to a minimum. While red meat offers protein and iron, it is also high in saturated fat. But, if you want to eat the occasional piece of red meat, stick to lean cuts of pork and beef from organic fed livestock.