Dieting is difficult.
Okay, that’s probably very obvious, but there’s no getting around that fact. However, most things worth achieving do take some will power and initiative, but dieting doesn’t have to be miserable, confusing or impossible.
As we know, the foundation of any productive diet involves sustaining a negative energy balance over a period of time. By “negative energy balance,” I mean burning more calories than you consume. This principle embodies fat loss in its simplest form. It’s undisputable. If we deliver our bodies less energy than it burns, weight will be lost.
That all sounds peachy, but of course, real life isn’t so simple. It’s difficult to turn down dessert when out with your friends. Then holiday comes around, and the dinner table is littered with foods high in both calories and taste. And alas, you remember there’s one more slice of pizza in the fridge. Sound familiar?
But as I said, dieting doesn’t have to miserable. Eating these fatty foods on occasion won’t make or break weight loss. However, eating them regularly will. So, what’s the best way to sustain weight loss and a sane mind?
At the risk of sounding crass, the best diets are high in foods that are… good for dieting. Yes, you read that correctly. The real question here is,” What makes a food good for dieting?” In this article, you’ll learn about both the qualities of a useful dieting food and specific examples meeting these descriptions.
The best dieting foods are…
1. High in Protein
There are many benefits to consuming a diet high in protein, and these benefits become even more pronounced when dieting. First, proteins are inherently more satiating macronutrients than either fats or carbohydrates. Further, it takes more total energy to break proteins down through the process of digestion than it does for fats or carbs (1). As if you needed even more reason to consume protein, it’s also well known that increased protein consumption spares more fat-free mass when dieting. Need I say more? You’ll find various recommendations in the literature, but shooting for about 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight is a nice neighbourhood to live in.
The biggest piece to consider when setting up a successful diet is that pesky caloric deficit over a period of time. This effectively takes your body away from homeostasis, which is great for the purpose of dieting. However, there will be times when your body fights back against this purposeful and slight form of “starvation”. It suppresses itself in many areas it deems less important in order to survive. So, your heart continues to pump and muscles continue to work, but the immune system may take a hit. For this reason, it’s paramount to be consuming foods that are generally nutritious, giving your immune system the ammunition it needs.
3. High in Dietary Fiber
Fiber is basically the indigestible portion of plant-based foods. In addition to a myriad of other benefits, a diet high in fiber, like protein, tends to be more satiating (2). Further, foods like veggies rich in dietary fiber tend to have a useful bulk: calorie ratio. What that means is the volume of food you’re eating is quite large compared to the little amount of calories involved. Leafy greens are great at this.
4. Low in Calories
Okay, so this last point probably need not be said, but it’s worth touching on. As previously stated, the crux of fat loss is maintaining a negative energy balance which is nearly impossible if you’re consuming highly caloric foods. It’s relevant to note though, if you’re doing a sound job eating a diet high in protein, nutrients and fiber, you’ll likely have no issue with burning more calories than you consume.
Below you’ll find a list of foods I tend to eat when dieting which check several, if not all of these boxes.
4. Black Beans
6. Lean Protein Shakes
9. Sweet Potatoes
11. Protein Bars
12. Greek Yogurt
There you have it. This is by no means an all-encompassing list, but these foods are staple items to incorporate while dieting.
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