Ever tried to lose weight and
wondered why you didn't succeed? Here, Australia's top weight-loss specialists
provide some surprising insights.
I wish you wouldn't: Count kilojoules
Why? The old approach that Says ‘energy in
equals energy out' Is a physics equation. It doesn't apply to biological
organisms like people. You may think there are 400kJ in a piece of cake but
that may be the equivalent of 800kJ in some people and 200kJ in others in terms
of weight gain, depending on how they harvest the food and use the energy.
old approach that Says ‘energy in equals energy out' is a physics equation
We believe now that one reason for this
concerns the bacteria that live in our guts. In lean, healthy people these
bacteria live in harmony but in obese people, the bad bacteria take over from
the good. They get leaky guts and therefore a greater harvesting of food which
results in fat being stored more readily.
What I’d like to see you do: Work on
changing the bacteria colonization of the gut. Stick to a wholefood,
plant-based diet with a lot of fruit and vegetables and cut out or reduce
animal meats and processed foods.
I wish you wouldn't: ignore emotional
Why? We often eat to avoid underlying
emotions such as boredom, anxiety or loneliness. We also eat for the joy of
self-indulgence or celebratory cheer. None of this is terrible, but if we rely
on food to feed our emotions rather than our hunger, it may prevent us from
developing healthy coping strategies, and we are still left with the problem
that was bothering us in the first place.
What I’d like to see you do: Develop a
toolkit so you have a range of healthy ways to self-soothe and celebrate life.
I'm a huge advocate of mindfulness meditation, which has been proven to develop
emotional regulation and resilience. It enables you to notice your emotional
responses rather than reacting to them. It helps, too, to become curious about
your relationship with food. You can learn a lot about yourself from looking at
how, when and where you eat.
meditation, which has been proven to develop emotional regulation and
I wish you wouldn't: Obsess over kilojoules.
I've had clients recite the energy content of nearly everything they eat.
Why? Obsessing doesn't create a healthy
relationship with food. In fact, the opposite happens. Look at something like a
'diet' dessert ingredients can be manipulated to produce a food with very low
kilojoule value, but next to no nutritional value. Low human-intervention foods
pack an almighty punch when it comes to nutrient density. Nuts, seeds, salmon,
avocado and eggs all contain good fats and essential vitamins and minerals but
they're high in kilojoules.
Any health goal, such as losing weight, is
best centered on becoming healthier as opposed to becoming skinnier. This
psychological shift will revolutionize the way you approach nutrition. Many
people believe you need to lose weight to be healthy when you actually need to
be healthy to lose weight.
What I’d like to see you do: Zig and zag:
the zig is what you should do most of the time - eat real food. The zag is what
you do occasionally.
I wish you wouldn't: Eat so quickly and
not really enjoy your food.
Why? There's a growing amount of great
research highlighting how important it is to eat slowly as it allows our senses
to know when we're starting to fill up. This makes it easier to stop eating
eating more slowly, even just once or twice a week
What I’d like to see you do: Practice
eating more slowly, even just once or twice a week. Pick a time you'll be able
to eat slowly and taste and enjoy every mouthful
I wish you wouldn't: focus only on fat
intake in your diet
Why? When there's less fat available in the
diet than the body needs for its essential functions, the body responds by
storing fat more efficiently. This causes an increase in the amount of fat
deposited in fat stores around the body. Low-fat diets also often cause you to
eat more. Studies show that volunteers, when placed on a low-fat diet,
increased their total food intake.
What I’d like to see you do: Don't just
focus on fats. Also be conscious of other foods, especially sugars and
carbohydrates, which can often be more of a problem.
I wish you wouldn't: eat five small
meals a day
Why? Although many diets and personal
trainers encourage frequent small meals and regular snacks between main meals,
this is not a good strategy as it's been proven it increases circulating
insulin levels and encourages your body to store fat.
eat three meals a day and make sure you have several hours of an empty stomach
What I’d like to see you do: Just eat three
meals a day and make sure you have several hours of an empty stomach between
meals. This will decrease circulating insulin levels, thus encouraging your
body to burn stored fat.
I wish you wouldn't: eat when you're not
Why? It's not unusual for 40 to 80 per cent
of a person's dally eating to be non-hungry eating, so they binge, pick,
over-eat and emotionally eat. Their eating behaviors end up all over the place.
What I’d like to see you do: Lots of diet
plans are very rigid and encourage you to never feel hungry. But it's nice to
feel hungry. If you're not hungry, why eat? Be aware of what hunger feels like,
and what comfortably full feels like.
I wish you wouldn't: consume too many
Why? Even juices promoted as 'health'
drinks contain hundreds of kilojoules and they are often served in huge
portions. Beverages can be one of the biggest culprits for hidden kilojoules.
What I’d like to see you do Juices and
milks are fine, but have small amounts. If you're thirsty, drink water.
I wish you wouldn't: go on harsh and
Why? Your body will interpret that sort of
punishment as a warning of a famine coming and your evolutionary survival genes
will protect you by not letting you starve, slowing down your metabolism and
making you sluggish so you don't want to do any futile exercise.
wish you wouldn't: go on harsh and punitive diets
What I’d like to see you do: Make small,
sustainable changes such as eating more vegetables, reducing snacks and
eliminating sugary soft drinks, and take part in purposeful activity like
gardening or walking or cycling instead of driving to the shops.
I wish you wouldn't: push on through
your diet or give up completely when you find your weight loss has plateaued
Why: When losing weight it's inevitable
you'll have periods when the weight loss stops, but if you then try harder and
eat less and exercise more, it can push your metabolic rate down further,
making you hungrier and weight loss even harder. There is no need to give up
either. Once your body has adjusted to your new weight and realizes you're not
going to starve, you'll start losing weight again.
What I’d like to see you do: Research shows
that a period of weight stability can help your body adjust to the new lower
weight so when you hit the plateau, give your body a break and have a little
weight-loss holiday. Don't go back to how you were eating before, but if you
fancy a lamb roast then have it until you feel weight loss is something you can
tackle again. It may only take one meal or it might take three months but the
harder you're struggling, the longer you probably need to plateau.
Buy very low-kilojoule weight- loss
programs and use them without medical supervision or support
Why? If you have underlying kidney or liver
problems or a propensity for gout, these diets can put you in dangerous
situations. Also, they're only recommended for those who have a BMl of at least
What I’d like to see you do: Have a medical
check-up before using these programs, then have another during the weight-loss
phase and be sure to get support in the after phase. There may be a propensity
for some people to binge after these diets.