It’s certainly true – at least in theory and sometimes in practice – that all calories are created equal. “From the standpoint of body weight,” adds Marion Nestle, PhD, of NYU, “a calorie is a calorie no matter what it comes from. You can gain weight eating too much healthy food as well as unhealthy. From the standpoint of health, it’s better to eat your veggies…. It’s just a lot easier to overeat calories from junk food than healthy food. But it can be done.”
When the pounds start coming off, some people are tempted to increase their amount of gym time to accelerate their progress. Don't give in. As with your dietary changes, working out is a lifestyle change, and those don't happen in a week. While it is possible to increase the amount of time you spend at the gym, you don't want to do it all at once in such a way that you either get injured or burn yourself out & start to hate the gym.
When you complete the calorie calculator process, you'll get a daily calorie goal. This is the number of calories you should eat each day to reach your desired weight in the time frame that you set. If you are trying to gain weight, your daily calorie goal will include a calorie surplus. But if weight loss is your goal, a calorie deficit is factored into your final number.
If you're still feeling confused about how to manage your portions and how much of which types of food you should eat, a nutritionist can help. A nutritionist will give you information specific to your body and your dietary needs. Nutritionists are also great for telling you what foods you should absolutely cut out all together and where you might have room to cheat a little for favorites once in a while. They can also direct you on moderation. Dark chocolate and red wine, for example, have health benefits when consumed in moderation, even though chocolate and alcohol in general aren't very conducive to dieting. If you spike your blood sugar then when it crashes you will once again be hungry quickly. This is one of the reasons many nutritionists recommend low glycemic index diets with limited carbohydrate consumption.
Weight training is the ultimate way to burn calories fast. "A pound of muscle burns up to nine times the calories of a pound of fat," explains Richard Cotton, M.A., chief exercise physiologist for myexerciseplan.com. Weight training increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn while sitting on your butt. What's more, it gives your metabolism an added boost after you exercise, staying in overdrive for up to two hours after the last bench press, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Strapped for time? Try these quick moves: squats, bench step-ups, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and planks. In a pinch, just do single sets of 10 for each exercise — you'll get optimal results for the time invested.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
“Everyone has something that’s going to be more meaningful to them, so you have to figure out what is it that’s going to drive you to actually do it. Is it time saving? Is it cost saving? Is it the ability to make things simple [so that] you don’t need to think about it?” says Delaney. “To sit down on a Sunday and think about planning takes time. How am I justifying that time? Well if I add up the cost savings and the time savings throughout the week, it may have only taken me an hour on a Sunday, but during the week without having to think about it, I just saved five hours. If you do the math, it’s worth it. You’re also giving yourself back some mental space. So instead of waking up in the morning and winging it, now you have some sort of routine so you can feel more in the present and not consistently worrying about what’s coming next.”
Weight loss may help chase your blues away. Scientists are still trying to work out why, but better body image and improved sleep may be part of the reason. In one study, depressed people who were very overweight felt better after they lost an average of 8% of their body weight. Other research shows you’ll continue to feel better, even after 2 years -- as long as you keep the weight off.