The Right Foods for Weight Loss by Claire Jarrow

Nutrients More Important than Calories for Effective Weight Loss

If you thought weight loss was simply about cutting calories, your attempts to lose weight are unlikely to have been successful. To see the results you are hoping to achieve, instead of focusing purely on how many calories you consume and burn, you need to ensure you choose the right foods to support your weight loss efforts and promote fat burning. Here we look at some of the key nutrients that you need to consider when aiming to reduce your fat stores.

Optimum carbohydrate intake

While eliminating carbohydrates isn’t a good idea when exercise is an integral part of your weight loss regime, a low-fat diet where the emphasis is largely on carbs rather than protein isn’t ideal either. To fuel your physical activity your body requires carbohydrate, as this is your muscles’ preferred energy supply, but that’s not all. Adequate carbohydrate also aids the creation of new muscle tissue following resistance exercise, as that is an energy intensive process and something anyone looking to lose weight should aim for owing to the fact that a greater muscle mass increases your metabolic rate to aid fat burning. However, lower carbohydrate approaches do offer a number of benefits for weight loss. When you consume less carbohydrate this helps to promote more stable blood sugar levels, reducing insulin spikes that would otherwise lead to fat storage rather than fat burning, and more even blood sugars also help to prevent hunger, reducing the temptation to snack in between meals. If you are interested in an honest account of lower carbohydrate diets, KwikMed reviews a number of weight loss blogs that adopt this strategy and using their resource can help you access the information you need to decide whether this is an option you would like to explore further.

Good versus bad carbs

Whether or not you reduce your carbohydrate intake, the type of carbs you opt for can be just as important as the amount of them you eat. Choosing carbohydrates with a low glycemic index can help you to achieve more steady blood sugars in a similar way that reducing your overall intake of carbohydrates can. Lower glycemic index carbs include oats, grainy bread, pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, the majority of fruits and non-starchy vegetables, pulses (peas, beans and lentils) and dairy produce. These should be included at each meal to provide sustained energy levels throughout the day, which will benefit your exercise sessions, as you will be able to push yourself further to expend more energy to aid weight loss. Low GI wholegrains also supply B vitamins, which play an essential role in the metabolism, aiding the release of energy.

High quality protein

A source of protein – whether lean meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy produce, pulses or nuts – should be included with each meal. This not only ensures that you meet your protein requirements to allow your body to carry out repair and produce crucial elements such as hormones and enzymes, but is also essential for muscle-building and helps to promote feelings of fullness. A protein rich snack after exercise, such as fat-free cottage cheese with crackers, no-fat yogurt with fruit or a cup of low-fat milk, is particularly useful to promote muscle-building. Just be careful to avoid higher fat protein sources such as processed meats, as these are full of artery-clogging saturated fats and won’t help your weight loss attempts. The exceptions are oily fish, nuts and seeds, as these are rich in essential fatty acids, which help to reduce the inflammation in the body associated with carrying excess weight and may even help to promote the metabolism itself.

Nutrient dense foods

Besides considering the macronutrients in our diet, a number of minerals are also thought to be beneficial for weight loss, so opting for foods rich in these will help to support your efforts. People who include low-fat dairy produce more regularly in their diet have been shown to be more successful in their weight loss, which may relate to its calcium and magnesium content as both minerals are linked to the metabolism. Other foods rich in both calcium and magnesium include leafy greens, dried fruit, wholegrains and pulses, which fit in with the recommendations above. There is also interest in the role that chromium plays in fat burning and a recent review of the studies to date found that significantly more weight was lost when chromium intake was increased. Chromium is additionally linked to improved control of blood sugars and cholesterol levels, which are both more likely to be a problem when carrying extra weight. You might not be familiar with this mineral, but if you have weight loss in your sights, opt for wholegrains, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, lean beef, turkey and eggs to up your intake of this fat burning nutrient.