One of the main challenges of most diet plans is that they restrict your food choices. Quite often, what you love to eat best is suddenly forbidden or limited. But is this really necessary? Can you eat what you want and still lose weight?
In this article I want to talk about why you don’t always need to give up your favorite food to lose weight… but, I will also talk about why you may choose to do so.
In this discussion I’ll describe 3 general approaches to fat loss nutrition. Through these approaches you’ll be able to see different eating strategies that you can use.
The Forbidden Approach
This is the simplest approach and one which requires very little thinking. You just avoid certain foods completely until you lose all the weight you want.
The “Forbidden” approach is similar to how vegetarians deal with meat. They never eat it. Some do so for moral reasons and others because they believe that this is better for their health.
If you follow a diet plan or program that uses this approach, you will not be able to eat your favorite foods until you reach your target weight.
It should be noted that some diets start out this way but gradually allow you to include more and more food in your routine. The Dukan Diet, for example, begins by allowing you to eat high protein foods and nothing else. Only weeks into the program are you allowed to include other foods.
The Cheating Approach
There are plenty of diets that use what is known as “cheating”. This is a strategy that’s become very popular in recent years and is used by a number of diet plans such as the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet and the EODD Diet.
Cheating basically limits the time you can eat your favorite “fattening” food to certain periods. This can be once a week, once every 5 days, and so on. The alloted period changes from one program to the next.
What is similar in all such program is that you’re not allowed to eat certain foods at certain times (usually most of the time) but you are allowed to indulge yourself during your “Cheating periods” and then your food choices are very broad.
Cheating is done not just as a psychological tool but a physiological one as well. Its goal is to facilitate fat loss by helping you to get a higher metabolism. I won’t go into detail as to how or why these strategies work. I’ll just say that they have many proponents who swear by them.
The Freedom Approach
In this approach, there are no forbidden foods. You can eat what you want. The idea behind these types of programs, such as the Anything Goes Diet, is that weight loss depends solely on calories. If you have a calorie deficit, your body has no choice but to lose weight. If you have a calorie surplus it has no choice but to gain weight. Simple.
This is basically true. The balance of calories is what determines whether you lose weight. It’s a question of calories in vs. calories out. So, if only calories matter, it makes no difference what you eat. Only your calorie total is important.
As you can imagine, this free approach has a lot of appeal. You can always eat what you like. You just need to keep your total calorie intake under control.
Now that you know that you can eat what you want and lose weight, the only question that remains is whether you should. The answer isn’t as simple as you may think…
Food Is About More Than Calories
While the thought of losing weight while eating pizza and ice-cream may seem like a mouth-watering prospect, let’s remember one important thing: food is about more than just calories. We don’t eat simply to give our body the energy it needs to function. We also supply it with a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that it requires to remain healthy.
Your food choices need to take into account the needs of your body. While calories determine weight loss or weight gain, you need to think beyond the scale and make sure that you’re giving your body all that it needs.
Some of your favorite foods may be tasty but they may also be low on the nutrients your body needs. When you eat them, you’re using up part of your calorie limit (that you must keep in order to lose weight) and you may not be able to stick to it and still eat enough of the nutritious food your body requires.
So, eating what you want may make it harder for you to lose weight in a healthy way.
Weight Loss May Be Harder, Regardless
But health isn’t the only issue. Eating whatever you want may make it harder to lose weight in the first place. Why? Because the number of calories in food doesn’t always correspond to its effect on your hunger.
For instance, a caramel filled cup of coffee may contain a lot of calories may contain hundreds of calories but it isn’t likely to make you feel full. Since you’re still hungry, it will be harder for you to create a calorie deficit on that day. You can still do it but now you have to take into account the hundreds of calories that you’ve already “used up” on that coffee cup. Similar things can be said about cakes, pizza, and other low satiety foods.
You can definitely lose weight with any type of foods in your diet. However, ”wasting” your allowed calories on food which doesn’t make you full may make it harder to succeed. In addition, what you eat also affects your health. This is why I do think about the food I eat and tend to limit high calorie, low satiety food. It’s the easier way to lose or maintain your weight and your health at the same time.