The term ‘diet’ refers to the kind of food a person, animal or community habitually eat. It has been used as an umbrella term for hundreds of specific plans such as; the 5:2 diet, juice fast, the Atkins diet, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, the Paleo diet, the lighter life diet, a sugar free diet, and the list goes on. All of these ‘diets’ have strict rules around what you can and can’t eat.
More often than not, you will see the scales drop after a period of time on one of the above diets. This is great, if you can keep the weight off, but the diets are usually hard to stick to long term and are often not realistic. However, one thing these diets all have in common is that they are designed, in their own way, to ensure you are in a ‘calorie deficit’. In my experience sticking to a calorie deficit, and in doing so changing your lifestyle, is often an easier challenge than trying to work out ‘sins’ or whatever they are calling chocolate these days!
Put simply a calorie deficit is when you consume less calories than you expend. For example, if you consume 2,000 calories per day (14,000 per week), and then reduce your intake to 1,500 calories per day (10,500 per week) you should expect to see 1lb of fat loss per week. The scales will often show a larger weight drop, but this is usually water that has been lost rather than fat.
There are many ways you can calculate how many calories you eat to know how much to consume to be in a calorie deficit. An app I often use with my clients is called ‘MyFitnessPal’ and is available on all smart phones. It is an easy to use app and allows you to input your food and see the total number of calories eaten, and what this breaks down to in terms of macronutrients (protein, fats & carbohydrates).
Once you know how many calories you normally consume and if you wish to lose 1lb of fat per week, try reducing your calories by 300-500 per day and record your weight at the end of the week. If you lost weight, well done! If not, reduce your intake by another 100 calories for the next week.
Remember to track your calories honestly, as you’ll only be cheating yourself if you don’t.
In conclusion, in order to lose weight you must simply expend more calories than you have eaten. How and what you eat comes down to your dietary preferences, time, work/life balance, budget and cooking expertise, but I hope the above tips will help to inform your nutritional choices moving forward.