The great weight loss debate
The search for the perfect weight loss diet can be a very confusing and frustrating exercise and this could not be better illustrated by the drama unleashed back here in my home country of South Africa over a new fad diet that has now been circulating for some years. Some time ago a certain Cape Town university professor introduced this popular but very controversial low carbohydrate high-fat weight loss diet that in no time had ignited a heated debate in health and medical circles as to its long-term health implications.
The controversy intensified recently when it was revealed that this weight loss diet had been endorsed to babies just weaned off breast milk resulting in condemnation from certain health industry specialists and medical authorities. Public critique has ranged from high praise to others branding this weight loss diet a health hazard leaving Joe public the more confused and none the wiser as to what is the best weight loss formula.
Are you searching for the perfect diet?
A search of diets on the internet will yield up to 66 million searches and weight loss another 162 million with tens of thousands of so-called health experts offering advice and products “guaranteed “to make you lose those unwanted kilos but more often leaving the client out of pocket and frustrated with nothing to show for their efforts . The appeal to the public is the “microwave mentality “of these diets or products promising a quick and easy solution to weight loss.
A bit of common sense will lead us to conclude that excess weight takes months or years to accumulate, so to remove it all within a couple of weeks is unrealistic. Success in all spheres demands time and sacrifice, weight loss should be no different, so instead of the quick fix solution lets focus rather on a disciplined regime of good planning and healthy eating.
I lost and gained up to 15 kilos a year for years
I am in my early fifties and have been documenting my health data from my early twenties. At the time I was pushing serious weights at the gym and although I normally kept quite trim I had some very bad eating habits. I would gain weight at stages and quickly shed the extra kilos when I returned to my ‘health phase’. I was losing and gaining up to 15 kilos in a single year.
Naturally, as I got older it became more of a challenge and I had to learn to control my cravings (sweet tooth and salty snacks) and find a better solution to my unhealthy eating problem. Since I was recording my weight once a week it made it easier to experiment with food and I could track my progress and take note of my eating habits and what worked to stay slim or lose weight and what caused me to gain weight.
5 steps to weight loss
1.Plan to succeed
Focus your mind to propel you on your weight loss journey, realize that there is no easy route, success will depend on a disciplined application of healthy eating habits. Set up a positive mind frame for success with good planning of food selection and preparation.Set a realistic target that you will be able to achieve over a certain period, pick a date and start on your weight loss adventure.
2. Motivate yourself
Record all progress, begin with your initial weight. I strongly advise you to purchase a blood pressure monitor, they come in all shapes and sizes and are quite affordable. You can then also record blood pressure and pulse and as you lose weight these readings will also improve and be a further incentive to motivate you on to your weight loss target Make sure that you record your weight and the other measurements once a week. The incentive will be to improve weekly. A comments section can document what you ate for the week and be a guide to what has worked best. It should look something similar to the following table :
Date—— blood pressure— pulse — weight—– comments
17\10\16 | 120/70 | 68 | 85.kg
23\10\16 | 118/68 | 66 | 83.5kg
3.Teach your body good eating habits
Your body can take as little as 3 weeks to learn a new habit, for example, if you set your alarm clock an hour earlier to begin a new routine, within 3 weeks or so you find you are awake before the alarm clock rings. The same principle can be applied to change your eating habits.
I indulged my chocolate craving regularly and had to wean myself off chocolates firstly by cutting it out altogether and replacing it with a healthy alternative. After a month I found myself at a birthday party and a generous slice of chocolate cake left me slightly nauseous and with no desire for more. The secret I realized was to offset a bad habit by replacing it with a healthy alternative. This can apply to all unhealthy foods habits but it requires discipline and a good dose of self-control not to fall again into old unhealthy eating habits
4. Drink the right liquids.
Avoid all alcoholic beverages as this is a sure way to put on weight and will open up your appetite to eat more. Avoid all sugary drinks like sodas, energy drinks, and fruit drinks even if they claim to be 100% pure. Drink water between meals especially when you are hungry or feel like snacking.
Water will take off the edge of your hunger and you can add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to give it more body and add to your weight loss effort. Drink a glass of water before meals, this helps with digestion and gives your stomach more of a full feeling so that you will eat less . You can drink coffee or tea or if you prefer something cold, have a glass of water and squeeze some lemon into it.
5. Eat the right foods
Starting with breakfast I would ditch most breakfast cereals as most have added sugar. Read carefully the contents and don’t be fooled by so-called healthy alternatives. Avoid cereals made from wheat and corn, personally, the only cereal I eat is oats. If cereals don’t appeal to you eggs are excellent for making a good and healthy breakfast, scrambled, fried or hard-boiled you can vary with lean bacon, onions, peppers, tomatoes or stir-fried veggies.
The guidelines I use for a steady weight loss is to exclude from my diet the list of the following basic food groups and include in my diet its healthier alternative. The list is as follows.
Bad – All flour based starches – bread, all types of pasta, pizza, confectionery, snacks. All Corn products. Good – Brown rice, oatmeal, bran, rye bread, peas, beans, baked potatoes with skin, sweet potatoes.
Bad – Vegetable oils eg. canola, sunflower, soy, peanut oil, regular palm oil. Margarine. Good – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, Butter.
Bad – Avoid adding sugar to your food and all sugar loaded foods like confectionery, candy, chocolate etc. Health bars are also loaded with sugar. Avoid Soda’s, all fruit juices and energy drinks. The only sugar you should use is for tea or coffee.
Good – Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar but should be used conservatively. Chocoholics should try to eat dark chocolate with a 70% or more cocoa content a this helps with weight loss. Pineapple and many other fruits are a great alternative if you crave something sweet.
Bad- Too much animal products especially if it contains excess amounts of fat like fatty mince for example and fatty chicken skin. Good – Lean chicken, fish, lean beef, nuts, fruits, and vegetables especially green leafy veggies.
Lastly, avoid all processed foods and fast foods as these contain all the wrong things in excess like sugar, oils and, sodium not to mention unhealthy additives like colourants, preservatives etc. Try to keep your diet as natural as possible. A good meal should consist of about 60 per cent of a variable of vegetables (green, yellow-orange ), healthy starches should be kept to no more than 30 per cent of your meals as they can affect weight loss if eaten in excess. Do reward yourself once a week, a glass of wine or a slice of that favourite cake but keep it disciplined.
This is a general outline of good eating habits and is not a specific diet, but I have used these basic principles to good effect for over 20 years. If you are looking for a specific diet you can compare to the above to get a good idea if the diet is worth trying out or not, beware of strange diets that promise quick results and leave you hungry. Rather make it a long-term challenge to change and adapt to a healthy lifestyle of eating, and applying discipline and common sense.