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How do I achieve my ideal weight? Diet

Don’t go hungry

One of the keys to success in an eating plan is to avoid the sensation of hunger as much as possible. There are three strategies for this:

  1. Respond to the sensation of hunger when it happens. Not doing so increases the risk of choosing the wrong food when we finally eat.
  2. Increase the number of meals we have each day. Despite the fact that it is discussed in other sections, it is important to stress that eating several times a day notably reduces the sensation of hunger and the tendency to choose unhealthy food.
  3. Choose filling food. Foods rich in fibre increase the sensation of fullness:

    Fruit and vegetables. It is preferable to choose whole fruits instead of juices, since the first are more filling.

    Pulses and nuts. Recent investigations show that nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts… ) are useful in weight loss thanks to their fibre content and the type of fats which they contain.

    Wholegrains: Wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain rice. There is extensive evidence to prove that these are very useful in all weight loss programs. One reason is that they increase the sensation of fullness, thanks to their high concentration in dietary fibre.

Don’t skip meals, respond to the sensation of hunger and choose wholegrain foods, fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts often.

Tip: Do you find it difficult to eat wholegrain foods? To increase the fibre of white pasta, once it has been boiled, leave it to cool in the fridge and then reheat it. A % of its starch converts to fibre (resistant starch).

Basis of my diet

The following food pyramid shows that the basis of our diet should be cereals, preferably wholegrain. This also applies in all weight loss programs.

Pirámide de la alimentación

Try to eat at least 5 times a day: breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon and evening meal.

Many people who want to lose weight tend, mistakenly, to cut out a meal or fast sporadically. Some people eat only once or twice a day, i.e. they cut out meals. This fasting is associated with activation of the mechanisms which store fat.

In the processes involved in the digestion, absorption and assimilation of the nutrients contained in the different foods, you consume approximately 10% of the total energy ingested with the food; this is called “dietary thermogenesis”. For the same daily calorie intake, the amount of "dietary thermogenesis" will be greater the more meals you have.

Not skipping meals also has beneficial effects on:

- Blood cholesterol.
- Blood sugar (reduces the risk of diabetes).

Nutrient balance

The Spanish Society of Community Nutrition (SENC) and the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity (SEEDO) consider that you should not consume more proteins than the rest of the population who are not dieting to lose weight (10-12% of the energy) and that the percentage of carbohydrates should be greater than the % of proteins and fats both in normal calorie and low calorie diets.

How does this translate into foods?

It’s easy: prioritise cereals (bread, rice, pasta: macaroni, spaghetti, etc., preferably wholemeal), pulses (chickpeas, lentils, peas…), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts…), and fruit and vegetables in your diet and you’re sure to manage it.

You should reduce your consumption of fats. The best way of achieving this is by reducing your consumption of full-fat milk, non low-fat cheeses, cream, butter, pastries and confectionery in general. But not all fats are the same: olive oil or the fat in nuts are very healthy.

Right rhythm

The rhythm of weight loss is fundamental, since if we lose weight quickly we also lose a good percentage of muscle. This is why very strict diets are not recommended, and if in doubt, let yourself be advised by professionals. Take into account that during the first weeks it is usual to lose more weight than in subsequent weeks.

What happens if I lose muscle? Muscle, even at rest, consumes a lot of energy. Therefore, if I lose muscle, the amount of energy that I “burn” decreases and I will tend to store more energy (in the form of fat) once I stop restricting calories.

Achieving lasting weight loss will depend on the how well-balanced your diet is and on the influence of physical exercise.

When is it not advisable to lose weight?

- In pregnant women, unless indicated by the gynaecologist.
- In people with eating disorders.
- In people with depression or anxiety attacks (it’s better not to start therapies which may mean added stress).
- In children, consult your dietician-nutritionist.

And if I need to gain weight?

The first thing is not to skip meals and eat all types of food, as long as they are healthy. Having to gain weight doesn’t mean having to get fat. You can put on weight by increasing your muscle mass, and at the same time, this is beneficial for our health.

It is also recommendable to increase the calories in the diet from healthy foods: olive oil, fruit juices, fruit, dried fruit and nuts...

As you’ll know, the type of exercise recommended for gaining weight is called anaerobic: muscle-building or strengthening exercises as opposed to resistance exercises (running, fast walking, cycling...).

Miracle diets? No thanks

Miracle diets are those, the premises of which are based on arguments which have not been proven scientifically, that is, not endorsed by serious research. These diets are characterised by being unbalanced, insufficient and even dangerous for health. Moreover, once you stop them, you regain the lost weight very quickly. How do you recognise them? It’s easy: they usually ban basic foods, or have set lists of foods which are supposedly good or bad, or they are monotonous, or they promote fasting or semi-fasting with less than 1000 calories a day.

Examples are the separate diet, the maple syrup diet, the artichoke diet, the grapefruit diet, the beer diet, the blood group diet and so on and so forth. Scientific bodies such as the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition, the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity or the Spanish Nutrition Foundation recommend that we avoid them because they are not only a fraud but they can also be a danger to our health.

Bicentury has the endorsement of experts in dietetics; our advice doesn’t involve "miracle diets" but is based on the most recent innovations in the field of nutrition.

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