Which weight loss diet will work for you?
Weight loss - that uphill struggle that many of us face this time of year. The days are heating up, the swimsuits and lighter (less forgiving) clothing is being dusted off and it's time to get comfortable with the image in the mirror again.
But where do we begin with our weight loss journey? It seems that every year there is a new diet, a new wonder-cure, a new promise to make you "look and feel great" without any hard work. But do any of them actually work?
What the research says
During my degree, I focused my research project on women's weight loss. I conducted a broad scale literature review of thousands of studies to determine what the healthiest and most successful weight loss method was. It was an incredibly fascinating (though incredibly challenging) topic and I learned an incredible amount. Being that I was already practicing and running a busy practice filled with eager patients, I was lucky enough to be able to use my willing patients to conduct further, practical research to see what actually stacks up in the real world.
The difference between men and women
What I learned first is that choosing women's weight loss was a big mistake if I was looking for an easy ride. While many weight loss programs and products looked really promising based on the study, many of these studies chose to omit women from their research. The primary data we have available on weight loss methods is based on male participants.
Why? Because women bring down the average result! Yes that's right, across all studies, no matter what the method, women generally lose less weight whilst putting in more effort than the average male. So many studies appear to have a largely male base - possibly in order to guarantee better results.
We see this reflected in the real world too. Women have to work harder and our results are slower. A woman may stick to a strict dietary and exercise regime and lose a modest 200-500g per week, whilst her husband may cut out one of his daily doughnuts and easily drop 2kg in a fortnight. This can be incredibly frustrating for the female and support is needed to help her stay on track.
Stop feeling like a failure
The next thing I discovered is the drop-out rates in women are far higher. Possibly this is because we compare ourselves and our results to our male partners, causing us to feel like we're failing. However, when I coupled the approach with counseling and education to ensure the female had appropriate expectations, they were more able to stick to their program in the long term. Most with this approach were able to lose higher amounts of weight and also gained more confidence and resilience along the way.
Weight loss at Sydney City Nutritionist
At Sydney City Nutritionist, our weight loss programs are different. Yes of course we will provide a dietary plan, tell you your unique requirements and how to achieve them in the healthiest way. I've incorporated all that I've learned throughout my studies and years of practice into my weight loss programs. I've even developed some of my own signature dietary programs from what I've discovered working intensely with more 'problem cases' who can't lose weight by any other means.
However, we also have a strong focus on education and counseling. We ensure that each session inspires you and motivates you to power through. We also work with you to recognise the "bad weeks" as more information about how your current demands or lifestyle are impacting your health goals and how to work with this information to create powerful change.
You'll never be scorned for falling off plan, you'll never be told that you are failing. All information is powerful. 'Bad weeks' provide just as much information about what your body needs as the good weeks do. In fact the bad weeks (where it all falls apart and you go backwards) actually help to provide insight into what is required to keep off the weight in the long term.
So now for the juicy stuff - which approach is better?
The truth is, there are many approaches to weight loss that work well. However, they all boil down to a few key principles. So here's the recipe for a healthy weight loss program which helps you lose weight and keep it off in the long term:
Calorie tailored - yes calories do matter. Using my method, Sydney City Nutritionist practitioners will calculate your specific needs, taking into account your activity, body composition, gender, age, health history and metabolic rate. From this we can then determine exactly what is needed to support weight loss and how much you should expect to lose each week.
Adequate protein - this is crucial. What I discovered after extensive research is that, regardless of the approach, if your protein requirements are not met then you simply do not lose weight. This was a real revelation and helped me to understand why some seemed to work harder than others and yet the results were just not there. Your protein requirements vary with weight and activity levels.
A personalised diet - this means to be balanced to meet your daily nutritional needs (especially calories and protein) whilst also including therapeutic foods to address your health requirements and of course prevent nutritional deficiencies. This will vary from person to person. My therapeutic foods are those which balance hormones, improve progesterone production, reduce stress and support gut healing. Yours may be to reverse insulin resistance, support thyroid function or prevent cardiovascular disease. When your diet is rich in foods and nutrients that your body needs to support optimum health, weight loss is generally easier and more consistent. My thorough assessment process carried out by Sydney City Nutritionist practitioners will determine what your unique requirements are - so that your plan is as unique as you are.
Rich in micronutrients - This is so important that I needed to say it twice. Most people gain weight due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it's really not all about excess calories. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies lead to lowered metabolic rate, increased risk of thyroid issues, reduced ability to control blood sugar and many others - the result is low energy, higher appetite, cravings for unhealthy foods or larger portions and reduced capacity for exercise. In short, when we have deficiencies we eat more, burn less and also tend to move less. Correcting our deficiencies assists with correcting these issues, leading to a more successful program overall.
Adaptable and considerate of your lifestyle demands - If your plan is rigid and only works when you have time to cook all of your own meals, avoid alcohol and social engagements and to exercise a certain amount per week with no exceptions, then it creates the effect of falling "off plan" any time life gets in the way. It is important that you know how to adapt your plan to suit your life demands. This means that in the long term you'll be able to stay on track. At Sydney City Nutritionist our weight loss programs will include advice on how to adapt and change to suit the demands of each week. So you're always working towards your goals, no matter what challenge presents. This is also another secret behind your results being easy to maintain in the long term.
What if nothing works for me?
Firstly, let me just say how common it is to hear "I've tried everything". I can't tell you the number of times I've heard this but then when I actually consult the person there are very obvious gaps which have not been addressed by previous programs or practitioners. So, when you think you've tried everything, there may still be more, often very simple, things which could be addressed in order to get you better results.
Secondly, for the true 'problem cases' I've poured years of research and attention into developing a method which works incredibly well. I call this my High Nutrient Fast. In this method, we alternate a day of normal healthy eating with a day of High Nutrient Fasting. On a 'fasting' day, we focus on specific, highly nutritious, healthy and healing foods, plus lots of healthy protein, with lower calories overall. This method is fantastic for those who suffer from Hypothyroidism, Cardiovascular disease or Metabolic dysfunction. It is also great for those who have yo-yo dieted for many years and now find that they gain weight any time they try to follow a normal healthy diet.
How to find what works for you
At Sydney City Nutritionist we carry out a thorough weight loss assessment to determine exactly what your body needs. In most cases we'll also conduct some testing to provide additional objective information which can be used to personalise your program and determine your unique needs.
Your Nutritionist will then design a personalised program to suit your specific needs. You'll be provided with daily diet guides that show you how to meet your needs through simple recipes and easy snacks. Your lifestyle and personal demands will be taken into consideration to ensure that we design a program that is achievable and sustainable.
Finally, we'll monitor your progress, coach you through the tough times and guide you to stay on track no matter what challenges are presented. We'll help you to better understand your needs and your body, to ensure that your results are not only achievable, they are sustainable.
If you, or someone you know, is currently struggling to lose weight, get in touch and book a consultation. We're here to support you in finding your ideal program to lose weight now and keep it off in the long term.
My only wish is that the years I poured into my education, my research and thousands of hours working with patients, helps you to achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle - achieving your goals without compromising on your happiness.
Until next time, stay deliciously healthy.
Jennifer May BHSc(NutMed).Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.ATMS.MINDD