As you have probably picked up on by now, not all diets are created equal. It’s possible to go on a diet, lose weight, and yet be a very unhealthy person. The goal in losing weight should always be to do so in a way that’s kind to our bodies and promotes good overall health, not just a low number on the scale. One of the greatest contributors to healthy dieting is making sure you get great nutrition through the food you eat as you try to lose weight. The average American gets nowhere near the recommended levels of nutrition1. Of course, each body is different and many factors play into what an ideal balance of nutrition is for you and your body. Your age, metabolism, genetics, and general level of daily activity all affect what your nutrition goals should be. So do you know what kind of nutrition you should be getting? Let’s talk basics.
The main nutrients you consume can be categorized as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. For an average person interested in losing weight, your ratios should be2 around 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat, and 10-30% carbs.
- Protein: focus on high-quality proteins (lean meat, fish, eggs, etc.) instead of proteins that are also high in carbohydrates (such as beans) or saturated fats.
- Fat: good fats are essential not only to health, but weight loss. You don’t need to feel guilty about consuming fats like olive oil, butter, avocados, and nuts. Ones to stay away from are refined and hydrogenated oils (canola oil, soybean oil, and corn oil are good examples to avoid).
- Carbs: Carbs are an important part of your diet, but should be eaten intelligently and in moderation. As one expert said3, “Most of us are not active enough to justify a high carbohydrate diet.” Try eating carbs low on the glycemic index (GI), as these take longer to digest, helping keep you full longer without an energy spike – and subsequent crash. This list of low-GI foods4 is a good place to start.
Most of our food’s nutrition information is given based around a 2000-calorie diet, yet most Americans consume an average of rough 2800 calories per day5. While we’d all love a “magic number” of calories that will guarantee our weight and health, such a number does not exist. However, if losing weight is your goal, there are some guidelines you can follow. On average, women need about 2000 calories, while men need closer to 2700. Keep in mind, though, consuming fewer than 1200 calories a day is not only incredibly challenging, but can be dangerous6. Those numbers, though, are ideal for people who want to stay at their current weight and maintain a regular exercise regimen. Bonus nutrition tips for weight loss
Having a pie chart of how much of each macronutrient you should consume and a “budget” for your calories is great, but it’s not all there is to nutrition. Here are a few final tips to help you make the most out of your mealtimes:
- Boost your metabolism: eating 5-6 times a day7 (think 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks in-between) helps your body stay full, your appetite stay satiated, and your blood sugar levels consistent.
- Source your food: The more closely your food resembles its original source, the more nutrients you’ll get. Eat “real” fruits, veggies, and meats as often as you can, and when you aren’t able to eat them, chose minimally processed foods made out of natural ingredients.
- Exercise: you probably knew we’d get to this, but it always bears repeating. No amount of dieting will ever help you get to your weight loss or fitness goals as successfully as when you combine it with exercise. Yes, 75% of weight loss is controlled by what you eat, but adding in exercise gives your diet exponential momentum for better results.
- Consider a smarter strategy: adding a meal replacement shake to your diet can help you stay within your calorie “budget” and, if you pick a high-quality product like the shakes 310 Nutrition offers, will also help you stay balanced in the macronutrients you consume. Combining shakes with a nutritious diet of healthy, real foods makes for a dynamic duo. Shakes make eating a nutritionally balanced meal easy by taking the guesswork out of it and giving you an easy way to stay on track with your diet.
Eating right is critical to your health and weight loss goals. It can feel overwhelming keeping track of all the information, but it’s an education worth investing in and learning how to apply. And as with any skill, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.