But here’s the thing. A healthy diet isn’t always the answer to losing weight. It’s just one part of a holistic approach that includes, of course, a healthy diet, but also an exercise regime, as well as strategies and thinking patterns that will help maintain these lifestyle changes. Nail these, and you’ll nail the trifecta – losing weight, maintaining weight loss and preventing further weight gain.
But first, here are some of the most common reasons why a healthy diet isn’t always the answer to losing weight.
#1 The healthy diet isn’t actually that healthy
Sometimes the foods we think are healthy, are actually not. Don’t be fooled by the banana bread (loaded with sugars), scrambled eggs (whipped up with full-fat cream and butter) and spaghetti (bursting in carbohydrates and dripping in cheese). There’s also a load of kilojoules in alcohol, sugary, energy and fruit drinks and ‘health bars and protein balls’, sabotaging those weight loss goals.
Smart move: Get to know the Healthy Food Pyramid, which shows which foods we should eat from the five core food groups each day for a nutritious and balanced diet, as well as how much.
- Plant-based food groups should make up 70% of daily diet (vegetables and legumes, fruits, grains)
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives and lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes food groups.
- Healthy fats - small amounts every day to support heart health and brain function, sound in avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, extra virgin olive oil, nut and seed oils.
- Drink water and avoid void sugary options such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
- Herbs and spices.
#2 Hidden health issues
There are many possible health-related reasons why people put on weight, or can’t lose weight. Some health conditions include an underactive thyroid, ageing (losing muscle mass and doing less physical activity but eating and drinking the same as you always have), diabetes (eating and snacking more kilojoules than the body requires to control blood sugar), lack of sleep, stress, anxiety and depression (which can cause emotional overeating), fluid retention …. In fact, the list is endless.
Smart move: Consult your doctor, or find one using the doctor locator tool, to help you create a personalised plan that fits with your lifestyle and will support you in achieving your weight loss goals. Head to Can Science Take the Weight Off for more information to kick start your health.
#3 Consuming more kilojoules than are being burnt through physical activity
The average female adult (depending on age, build, muscle, body and other factors) requires around 8000kJ per day, according to Nutrition Australia. But if you are burning less kilojoules through physical activity than you are eating, the excess kilojoules will be stored as fat.
Smart move: As a rule of thumb for health, the average adult should move at least 10,000 steps a day. Try not to overconsume kilojoules and aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day minimum. To actively lose weight, aim to do 60 – 90 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. If this is too intense and unrealistic, get your doctor onside. Your doctor can put you in touch with dieticians and exercise physiologists and together they can design a diet and exercise regime specifically for your lifestyle that is realistic in its approach to weight loss. Remember, the key to losing weight is a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet and exercise.