Nutrition is the foundation of weight loss. While you can lose weight without it, that weight will creep back up without a nutritious diet. The key to effective nutrition for permanent weight loss is a lifestyle change. This article goes over some simple tips to make certain you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need to stay healthy during your weight loss journey.
5 nutrition goals that are better than weight loss
Add, don’t subtract
According to a 2020 study that was published in PLOS One, people are more likely to keep resolutions that call for adding to their routine than they are to refrain from doing something alluring. Instead of making a goal to eat fewer snacks, make a goal to eat a wider variety of foods that are high in nutrients. Think about adding vegetables to every meal, getting a Community Supported Agriculture box, or snacking on fruit every afternoon.
Tracking each day that you complete your habit using an app or a simple notebook can make the goal feel measurable. Start out small, says Vivienne Hazzard, who is also a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at the University of Minnesota. “rather than saying, I’m going to do this thing every single day, say, maybe I’m going to do it two or three times a week.”
Making any meal more nutrient-dense without limiting your favorite foods can be accomplished by thinking about adding rather than deleting. Instead of banning cookies and chips from the house, try serving them with other meals that make you feel full, such as a side of guacamole or a dollop of nut butter. Add leafy greens to meatloaf or mac and cheese. Frozen spinach from the freezer can be added to your morning eggs.
Drink more water
A small addition like water can have a significant impact on your health. According to a review article that was published in the journal Nutrition Reviews in 2010, mild dehydration (water loss that is less than three percent of your body’s weight) is linked to fatigue, decreased motivation, and gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea. An increased risk of acquiring urogenital tract infections, high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes may even be associated with chronic moderate dehydration. Water consumption should range between 2.5 and 3.5 liters (84.5 and 101.4 ounces) per day, or more if you exercise. Make a cup of herbal tea to sip on when you sit down at your desk, or tie drinking a glass to another aspect of your routine to help you remember to do so. You may also leave a water bottle by your bedside and drink from it as soon as you wake up. There are many apps that can keep track of how much water you drink and remind you to drink more. Try incorporating more intriguing ingredients like cucumbers, lemon juice, or flavored electrolytes if drinking plain water feels like a chore.
Sneak in more fiber
Fiber is the material in plant-based foods that our bodies can’t digest. For a long time, scientists thought of it as junk, says Beth Olson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Today, we know that it’s essential. Fiber feeds the bacteria in our guts, which could have an indirect effect on everything from our mood to our immune systems, Olson says. For nutrients like sugar and fat that the body does utilize, fiber in plants acts like a capsule, making it more difficult for our body to absorb them. Therefore, our body doesn’t actually absorb all the carbs present in foods like fiber-rich brown rice or beans. We also absorb those nutrients more slowly and feel full for longer. Plus, fiber-rich foods are often rich in other nutrients. “Fiber keeps good company,” Olson says. Women should strive for between 21 and 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for between 30 and 38 grams, according to the Mayo Clinic. (For comparison, a cup of black beans has 15 grams of fiber; an apple has roughly five.)
Cook one new recipe each week
Since I promised to do this in 2018 and haven’t missed much more than a week since then, I may have a bias in this area. It’s simple, enjoyable, and, as a bonus, it might even be good for your health. A 2017 review article in the journal Appetite found that those who cook at home typically have better general health, richer interpersonal relationships, and a stronger sense of cultural identity.
To maximize the positive effects, take the time to sit down and enjoy the meal you’ve cooked. This could mean enjoying the food with friends or family, or it could be as simple as turning off Netflix, lighting a candle, and enjoying the food you’ve made for yourself. “It’s a way to take care of your mental health,” Burnette says. “It can connect you to meaning and joy in life.” Plus, you’ll save the money you’d otherwise spend on takeout.
Start a hunger log
Start tracking how your food makes you feel instead of monitoring calories. Not macronutrient counts and precise serving sizes as you would on a rigid diet, but rather brief summaries of what was on your plate, how hungry you were before each meal, and how you felt afterwards.
Intuitive eating, a diet paradigm that promotes eating based on internal, rather than exterior cues, recommends paying attention to hunger as a key component. When adults use intuitive eating techniques, they tend to be happier with their bodies and less likely to eat when they are stressed.
“Pay attention to when you’re hungry and when you’re full.” “And eat accordingly,” Hazard says, And, while this may seem obvious, I believe that diet culture has caused many people to misinterpret those signs. However, it’s crucial that you ignore calories and portion sizes. Burnette advises not to worry if you realize that you’re eating when you’re not hungry or eating past the point of satisfaction. “The hunger and fullness diet is not the issue.”
Enjoy your food
Ultimately, any changes you make to your diet should be tweaks that are pretty easy for you to maintain, and ones that make you feel good, Olson says. They won’t be viable otherwise. If you come home from your nighttime activities every day tired, don’t expect yourself to make fancy meals. Also, don’t frantically guzzle water whenever you have a soda need. It’s hardly healthy for your health if the way you’re eating makes you grouchy, exhausted, or stressed, is it? Olson highlights that it is detrimental to our long-term health to concentrate only on the nutritional benefits of food and ignore its enjoyable qualities. Olson says that food is important to our society because it is both fun and good for us.
Eating These 7 Nutrients Could Help You Lose Weight Faster
Although macros may receive all the focus, these nutrients also need to be recognized.
Most weight-loss plans share the same characteristics: They concentrate on tracking or limiting macronutrients—the amount of calories consumed in carbs, protein, and fat—by employing a variety of strategies. This reasoning is based on the fact that calories are present in just macronutrients (short for macronutrients). Does this imply, however, that other nutrients—calorie-free ones like a few vitamins and minerals—have no significant bearing on weight loss? In no way.
The process of losing weight is difficult, and your body experiences the same. Given all the necessary metabolic, biochemical, and physiological processes, the body’s process of losing fat is actually quite complex. Several vitamins and minerals can affect weight loss in this way because reactions often require enzymes. However, there are some nutrients that research links with better weight loss and healthier body weights but whose relationship to weight is less clear. This means that your best bet when dieting is to concentrate on a few important nutrients in addition to macros.
See the top nutrients for weight loss, as well as some of the finest sources, below!
Magnesium is an important part of more than 300 enzyme systems, including those that control metabolism and glucose levels. Studies also show a clear correlation between magnesium consumption and insulin resistance. Because high blood sugar levels can cause fat to be stored, insulin resistance may make it hard for many people to lose weight. But there is evidence that getting enough magnesium every day may help you lose weight by slowly making your body less resistant to insulin.
Best Sources of Magnesium (Daily Value for magnesium is 420 mg):
- Nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts: a 1-ounce serving has 63-80 mg
- Soymilk: 1 cup has 61 mg
- Cooked spinach: 1 cup has 78 mg
- Legumes such as black beans and edamame: a ½-cup serving has 50-60 mg
2. Vitamin D
The amount of vitamin D consumed wasn’t a major issue until around 15 years ago. We believed that most people experience adequate production from sunshine, which mostly benefits bone health. Today, research on vitamin D’s function in a range of health conditions is a hot topic, and studies suggest that the majority of the population has insufficient amounts. Low levels of vitamin D are also thought to increase the risk of obesity and disorders linked to obesity. Although the link between low levels of vitamin D and chronic inflammation is not entirely understood, it is known that vitamin D is related to body weight. (P.S. Here’s what you can do about inflammation if it’s the cause of your inability to lose weight.)
No matter how it works, most of us would be better off if we ate more vitamin D. Some studies even say that taking vitamin D supplements could help you lose fat faster. Since vitamin D is not often found in foods, many medical specialists advise taking supplements to meet your daily requirements.
Best Sources of Vitamin D (DV for vitamin D is 20 mcg or 800 IUs):
- Cod liver oil: 1 Tbsp. has 34 mcg
- Trout or salmon: a 3-ounce serving has 14.2-16.2 mcg
- UV-exposed mushrooms: a ½-cup serving has 9.2 mcg
- 2% milk: 1 cup has 2.9 mcg
- Fortified plant-based milk: 1 cup has 2.5-3.6 mcg
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C isn’t frequently linked with weight loss because it is more frequently praised for boosting immunity and avoiding sickness. Vitamin C, however, is much more crucial while trying to reduce weight for those who are overweight or obese because it is an antioxidant. This is due to the fact that even slight weight gain can produce inflammation, which in turn boosts the generation of free radicals. This has a series of hormonal and metabolic consequences (including insulin resistance) that could promote more weight gain.
Antioxidant needs must be met if inflammation-related weight gain is to be prevented, and evidence indicates that overweight people have higher needs because of increased free radical production.
One of the most crucial nutrients to take is vitamin C, yet statistics show that the majority of us don’t consume enough of it each day.
Best Sources of Vitamin C (Daily Value for vitamin C is 90 mg):
- Red bell pepper: a ½-cup serving has 95 mg
- Orange: one medium orange has 70 mg
- Kiwi: one medium has 64 mg
- Cooked broccoli: a ½-cup serving has 51 mg
- Sliced strawberries: a ½-cup serving has 49 mg
- Cooked Brussels sprouts: a ½-cup serving has 48 mg
- Grapefruit: one half of a grapefruit has 39 mg
Beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein are examples of the family of physiologically active substances known as carotenoids. They are responsible for the red, orange, and yellow colors of several fruits and vegetables. According to a study that related phytochemical intake to body weight, eating more foods high in carotenes was linked to participants’ having smaller body weights. Additionally, carotenoid intake dropped as BMI rose. But there were no discernible variations in the groups’ calorie intake.
The most obvious reason for this could be that those with healthy weights consumed more fruits and vegetables. However, scientists believe that carotenoids’ antioxidant activity also contributes by decreasing inflammation. This is so because insulin resistance and hormonal dysregulation, two outcomes that encourage weight gain rather than weight loss, are linked to systemic inflammation. So, it looks like eating a lot of carotenoids-rich foods may help you lose weight and get rid of free radicals that can cause cancer and other diseases.
Best Sources of Carotenoids (There is no DV for carotenoids, but these carotenoids are a form of vitamin A found in plants. The Daily Value for Vitamin A is 900 mcg RAE).
- Baked sweet potato: 1 medium has 1,403 mcg
- Mashed pumpkin: 1 cup has 705 mcg
- Raw carrots: ½ cup has 459 mcg
- Cantaloupe: ½ cup has 135 mcg
- Red bell pepper: ½ cup has 117 mcg
- Mango: 1 medium has 112 mcg
Red blood cells’ hemoglobin carries oxygen to every cell in the body thanks to sufficient iron storage. However, low iron levels and storage make it difficult for red blood cells to carry oxygen, which hinders cells’ capacity to consume energy. When this persists, iron-deficiency anemia develops, and common side effects include pale complexion, exhaustion, and susceptibility to cold temperatures. Some people may not be able to lose weight because of this oxygen deficiency. In fact, a 2014 study found that iron supplementation improved hemoglobin levels while also lowering body weight, waist measures, and BMI in people with this kind of anemia.
There can be negative effects from taking iron if it is not necessary, and anemia isn’t always brought on by a lack of it. Consequently, pay attention to food first. To decide what to do next, consult your doctor if necessary. (P.S. Try to combine foods strong in vitamin C with your iron-rich recipes whenever you can to boost absorption!)
Best Sources of Iron (Daily Value for iron is 18 mg):
- Fortified breakfast cereals: 1 serving has 18 mg
- Legumes such as white beans, kidney beans and chickpeas: 1 cup has 4-8 mg
- Dark chocolate: a 1½-oz. serving has 3.5 mg
- Tofu: ½ cup has 3 mg
- Cooked lentils: ½ cup has 3 mg
- Braised beef round: 3 oz. has 2 mg
6. Probiotics & Prebiotics
Fats and fiber are digested in part by beneficial bacteria. As a result, research indicates that one’s gut health may influence how effectively a body loses excess weight. Additionally, it’s advantageous to have a wide variety of advantageous bacteria when it comes to lowering inflammatory substances that might cause insulin resistance and weight gain.
Additionally, some evidence hints that specific strains of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species may help people lose weight. This means that maintaining a healthy body weight and bolstering the gut’s microbiome barrier are both essential for overall health, and consuming probiotics and prebiotics is one of the best ways to do both (or eat the fibrous foods that gut bacteria need to thrive).
Researchers began noticing that overweight and obese people frequently had lower blood levels and zinc consumption over ten years ago, and data currently indicates that diets deficient in zinc are a risk factor for weight gain and obesity. Increasing zinc intake seems to improve insulin resistance (a condition, as noted with magnesium above, that can stall weight reduction) and regulate hunger, even if the connection and causal relationship between zinc and body weight are not entirely known.
Newer research suggests that eating more zinc may help dieters lose more weight and get smaller. One of the more recent studies looked at the benefits of taking a zinc supplement while eating fewer calories, and the group who took the supplement experienced noticeably greater weight loss as well as reductions in their BMI, waist, and hip circumferences. Also, zinc is a big part of both diets with animal-based proteins and plant-based proteins, though this study used a supplement to boost zinc intake.
Best Sources of Zinc (Daily Value for zinc is 11 mg):
- Cooked oysters: a 3-oz. serving has 74 mg
- Cooked beef, roast or ground: a 3-oz. serving has 5.3-7 mg
- Crab and lobster: a 3-oz. serving has 3.4-6.5 mg
- Fortified breakfast cereal: a serving has 2.8 mg
- Seeds and nuts, like pumpkin see