Importance of Nutrition for Weight Loss

Contents of the article

1. Introduction

2. Calorie Deficit

3. Balanced Diet

4. Summary













Introduction

We all understand the importance of a healthy balanced diet and exercise for weight loss. This article will target the nutrition aspect of the weight loss equation. Nutrition is commonly said to play a greater role when aiming to lose weight compared to exercise. You may have heard people say 'it's 70% nutrition and 30% exercise'. It's difficult to put an exact number on the influence of nutrition but it is extremely important when aiming to lose weight.


Calorie Deficit

The only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit. This means you are consuming less calories than what you are burning each day. This highlights the importance nutrition plays when aiming to lose weight, as you must be eating less than you are burning. The equation for weight loss is; calorie intake - calories burned (energy expenditure). Firstly, it is useful to know your energy expenditure each day which can be calculated using the Schofield equation or simply recorded using a smart watch. Once you know this, you can aim to eat less calories than you are burning each day to ensure you are in a calorie deficit. Ideally, you should gradually increase your deficit to gradually lose weight. It takes 3500 calories to lose one pound (450 g) of fat, which is a considerable amount. Therefore, a calorie deficit of 500 Kcals each day for a week will result in a weekly deficit of 3500 Kcals, and hence one pound of fat will be lost. A calorie deficit of 250 Kcals each day for the first couple weeks would be a sensible place to start before increasing this deficit to 500 Kcals a day.


The main issue people face when trying to lose weight is that they undertake a strict diet that is not sustainable. This results in a short term weight loss, but the weight is soon put back on when they finish the diet. Therefore, you need to find a diet/ lifestyle that is sustainable for you. This doesn't need to be cutting out all the carbohydrates in your diet or becoming vegan, rather it can quite simply be done by being more conscious of what you are eating by tracking your food intake. A great method of doing this is by using the MyFitnessPal app in which you can scan the barcodes of your food or simply type them in. This adds up your calories for the day and provides you with the macronutrient percentages you have eaten.


Balanced Diet

A balanced diet provides all the nutrients an individual requires, without going over their recommended daily intake. A mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fats should be consumed along with sufficient vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates should take up 50% of our daily calorie intake as they are the main source of energy used by humans. A high protein diet is always recommended when aiming to lose weight as protein increases satiety (makes you feel more full) and is essential for repairing and rebuilding muscle. Consuming > 1g/kg of your body weight per day of protein is recommended. However, when taking part in intense exercise/ weight training it is advised to consume 2 g/kg of body weight per day. The rest of your calories should be made up through consuming fats.


It is important to know the calorie make up of each macronutrient to help you make informed decisions when choosing what to eat. Carbohydrates 1g = 4 Kcals, Protein 1g = 4 Kcals, Fats 1g = 9 Kcals. Additionally, it is useful to know that in 1g of alcohol there at 7 Kcals. Therefore, when aiming to lose weight it would be wise to restrict the amount of alcohol and fats you consume as these are the most calorie dense substances.


Summary

Ensuring you are in a calorie deficit, when aiming to lose weight, is the most important take away message from this article. A gradual increase in calorie deficit should be used, whereby a balanced diet is consumed. Exercise should be used to supplement your nutrition when aiming to lose weight to create a greater deficit if needed.




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