Focusing solely on weight loss rarely leads to long-term health improvements and can be detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing
Over the Fit Summer series we chatted about the diet industry being lucrative and it’s true. A study has shown that on average it will cost a person €90 to €180 to lose two pounds while attending a slimming group.
When we consider the multiple attempts people make, some end up spending thousands of euro pursuing weight loss from a club with the promise of long-term success, despite research showing the opposite.
There are numerous studies showing that weight is not kept off after diets. The studies are plentiful — but most tell a similar story. For example, a diet resulted in over three stone lost after six months. However, within four years participants weighed half a stone more than when they started.
Of course, it’s not the same story for everyone. Another study showed that approximately 10pc of people maintained 75pc of their weight loss after a diet program. But, 40pc gained back more than they had lost during the diet.
Excess body fat can interrupt how the body would like to work. Nonetheless, focusing solely on weight loss, or following a restrictive plan, is often not going to lead to long-term health improvements. In fact, recent dieting behaviour has been shown to predict future weight gain.
Moving forward, with a lot of knowledge now behind us, as a society we would be healthier if we focused on what we should do rather than what we shouldn’t do. Instead, consider adding in the healthy foods or habits that you feel you could make and assessing how your body responds.
Remember there is a ripple effect to every change. Downstream things will look different. Let’s look at some basics.
You will feel better if you are well hydrated. So how much is enough? As a general guideline, most people require 30-35 millilitres of fluids per kilogram per day. That works out as about 2 litres for women and 2.5 litres for men. To better tailor this guideline to your needs, focus on how often you pee, how much fluid you produce and the colour of your urine.
We feel better when our gut is working as we want it to. Our gut microbiome is linked to every part of our body. It’s fascinating. So, how do we look after our gut? Simple things like eating a variety of different plants across the week can really help. For example, an array of different grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. If you like targets, aim for at least 30 different types of plants a week.
It’s normal to find being hungry uncomfortable. It impacts our mood and movement. Your hunger levels will be better managed if you eat enough protein at each of your meals. To give you an idea on what you should consider including, aim for 20 to 40 grams of protein in each meal.
You’ll enjoy your food more if you’re more present when you eat. It’s so easy to pick up your phone, switch on the telly, take out a book or be consumed with distractions around you. To tune in we need to turn down background noise. You will find that you enjoy your meal more if you’re aware of your senses while you eat. What do you hear, taste, smell, see and feel while you eat?
Your gut will function more predictably if you avoid eating large volumes of food. It’s normal to eat too much after a period of not eating enough. So providing your body with enough nourishment at all meals is a crucial first step. Then, with enough food on your plate, to help digest your food better, slow the speed of eating.
So we don’t miss those satiety cues, consider this simple guideline based on the number 10. Eat smaller bites of food the size of a 10 cent coin, chew your food at least 10 times and put your cutlery down for about 10 seconds between mouthfuls.
To finish the final week I would like to hit home a crucial point. Our body will reflect what we continuously do. Every sustainable change, no matter how small, will help your body work as it should. Most people don’t realise how good they’re designed to feel. One of the most important relationships you will have is with your own body. Show it love and respect.
⬤ 5g of Protein: 3 tablespoons of yoghurt or soya yoghurt; 1 medium egg; 1 handful of unsalted mixed nuts or seeds; amatchbox size of cheese; 3 tablespoons of hummus; 2 tbsp of nut or seed butter
⬤ 10g of Protein: ½ pint of milk; 3 tablespoons of cottage cheese or fromage frais; ½ a large tin of baked beans; 2/3 drained tin of peas, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas; 3 tablespoon of quark, skyr or greek yoghurt
⬤ 20+g of Protein: Tin of fish; 1 fillet of fish; 1 chicken breast; 2 slices of meat; 1 ball of mozzarella; ½ block of tofu