Why you need to eat to lose weight

If weight loss is on your list of goals for 2018, take a different approach this year.

Many world famous diets are known for cutting calories and yes, moderate caloric restrictions do result in weight loss. However, when too many calories are cut, the body transitions into survival mode, breaking down muscle tissue for energy and slowing the metabolism to conserve energy. These restrictions bring on undesirable side effects such as fatigue, cravings, and hunger and will eventually halt your weight loss goals.

Metabolism controls weight management and once it is slowed, it is difficult to speed up again.

Additionally, extremely limiting diets are rarely maintained. Once normal eating patterns resume, your newly slowed metabolism becomes your biggest enemy. A system that was once working in starvation mode, storing nutrients for emergencies is now bombarded by a much larger caloric intake. This shift usually results in stored body fat and a decreased utilization of the calories eaten.

So what works for weight loss? Eating.

It may sound crazy, but feeding the body is the best way to shred pounds and build muscle. Does this mean you can eat meals of pizza and doughnuts every day? Of course not.

While your goal will be to stay full, it’s important to focus on which nutrients fill you up. Fiber should be your No. 1 choice.

Fiber can help slow down digestion allowing for more nutrient absorption and a fuller feeling. Meals full of fresh plant-based foods will typically contain fewer calories than refined, processed foods allowing you to consume less calories while feeling fuller and energized.

To ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your daily diet, every meal should contain an array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc.

Eating a fibrous diet won’t give you a dramatic drop in calories, but it will result in a healthy 300-500 calorie decline per day. And over time, this moderate deficit will provide lasting results. In fact, no individual should follow a diet with less than 1,200 calories unless supervised by a medical professional.

It goes against mainstream thinking that eating food can actually aid in weight loss, but when those foods are nurturing and fibrous, they can do just that.

Elise Deming is a registered retail dietitian nutritionist in New Jersey. For more nutrition tips and recipes, visit her blog at eatwithelise.com or on Instagram @eat.with.elise.