We all want to be at a healthy weight, and most people usually do well when they focus on it. However, there are cases that go beyond willpower, especially in patients who have been diagnosed with obesity and overweight. Not surprisingly, one of the greatest health problems in modern Western society is obesity, to the extent that it has become a worldwide epidemic and is the direct cause of numerous chronic diseases that are related to physical and health. mental. Based on this, every day there are more people interested in making a change in diet and the first thing we have to say about it is that: the quality and quantity of the diet are the most important aspects.
It is no secret to say that the amount of calories people eat and drink has a direct impact on their body weight. The logic is simple: When we consume the same amount of calories that the body burns, the body weight will remain stable. By consuming more than the body burns, the weight increases. Fewer calories, weight goes down. However What about the type of calories? There are many questions around this, especially if it influences that these come from specific nutrients and foods.
The truth is that there is ample evidence about the foods and diet patterns that protect against heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. The good news is that many of the foods that help prevent disease also seem help control weight and prevent obesity, as is the case with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts. So many of the foods that increase the risk of disease, such as the wide range of processed products, refined cereals, fast food and sugar, are also factors that are directly related to weight gain.
Therefore quite contrary to what conventional wisdom says “A calorie is a calorie” regardless of its origin. Today emerging research suggests that some foods and eating patterns can make it easier to control calorieswhile others can make people more prone to overeating. Based on this, we took on the task of compiling the most relevant dietary recommendations created by experts from Harvard University. Take note!
1. The importance of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats
When people follow controlled diets, the percentage of calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates does not seem to matter for weight loss. There are some studies in which people are free to choose what they eat, so with a simple focus higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, some benefits can be seen. In fact in the prevention of chronic diseases, the quality and food sources of these nutrients are more important than their relative quantity in the diet. And the latest research suggests that the same message about the quality of the diet applies to weight control, therefore it will always be more important to bet on the best sources of macronutrients than to focus on fixing a specific percentage of each one. Bet on the intake of complex carbohydrates, proteins of high biological value (go ahead and try the vegetable alternatives) and choose healthy fats.
2. About fat intake and body weight
Low-fat diets have long been touted as the key to a healthy weight and good health. However, this does not mean that it is appropriate to stop eating fat, it is simply important to check the portions and most importantly The kind of fat! Over the past 30 years in the United States, the percentage of calories from fat in people’s diets has dropped, but obesity rates have skyrocketed. Based on this, experts through different clinical trials have found that following a low-fat diet does not make it easier to lose weight than follow a moderate or high-fat diet. In fact, study volunteers who follow moderate or high-fat diets were found to lose as much weight, and in some studies a little more, such as those on low-fat diets. In addition, low-fat diets very often complement it with a high content of carbohydrates, especially those that are sources of rapid digestion, such as white bread, pasta and white rice. It is well known that following a diet based on abundant consumption of simple carbohydrates increases the risk of weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.
Today we know that the type of fat is much more important than the amount and there is evidence associating it with benefits for weight control. In fact, there is a study in which it followed 42,000 middle-aged women for 8 years, and within their eating habits the increase in the consumption of unhealthy fats, especially trans fats, was related to weight gain. However, the increased consumption of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil, was not related to weight gain.
3. Never forget about proteins
It is no secret to say that protein is simply essential in weight management. In long-term studies, high-protein diets seem to work just as well as other types of diets. High protein diets tend to be low in carbohydrates and high in fats, so it is difficult to distinguish the benefits of eating a lot of protein from those of eating more fat or fewer carbohydrates. However, there are good reasons to consume a higher percentage of calories through protein:
– Greater satiety: It is a fact that proteins are satisfying and generous, they help us avoid overeating and for fewer calories. Bet on lean meats such as chicken, turkey and fish, and encourage yourself to integrate vegetable versions such as legumes, tofu and seeds.
– Greater thermal effect: More energy is needed to metabolize and store proteins than other macronutrients, and thanks to this it is possible to increase the energy that the body burns per day. And with it they benefit weight loss.
– Improved body composition: One of the greatest benefits of protein is that it helps preserve muscle mass during weight loss, and this in turn drives calorie burning.
Last but not least, experts and scientific studies have shown that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets improve blood lipid profiles and other metabolic markers, which can help prevent heart disease and diabetes. As an aside it is recommended to avoid the consumption of red and processed meats, as it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and even colon cancer. In fact, there is a study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health, in which it is found that the simple habit of replacing red and processed meat with nuts, beans, fish or poultry seems to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Based on this, they concluded that this dietary strategy, inspired by the Mediterranean scheme, may be the best scheme to lose weight. With health, nutrition and long term!
About the foods that can not be missing: whole grains will play an important role, bet on the consumption of brown rice, oats, quinoa and barley. The fresh, seasonal and shelled fruits and vegetables will be the basis of the diet, it is also committed to integrating legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, these food groups they shine for their content in fiber and other essential nutrients. The same thing happens with nuts and seeds, bet on integrating walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin, flaxseed and more. Low-fat dairy products are a good ally, bet on consuming cottage cheese, light cheeses and of course yogurt without any sweetener.
Complementary to this and as we already know it is essential control alcohol consumptionIn addition to its negative effects on health, we cannot forget that it is an important source of calories. Sugary drinks, sweeteners and soft drinks are also completely prohibited. In the same way, it will be key to avoid the consumption of ultra-processed foods and the immense variety of fast foods, which are considered one of the main causes of obesity and a long list of chronic diseases. They are foods that are very rich in calories, with few nutrients and with chemical compounds that deteriorate health. In addition, for people with obesity it is key to have the support of a nutritionist to create a healthy pattern and especially to find support and motivation along the way.
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