The Science of Weight Loss

Before starting a weight loss program, it would be great to establish if the weight gain has a medical cause or is just the appetite. If some conditions are involved, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, binge eating, anxiety, depression, medication (insulin, oral antihyperglycemic agents, antipsychotic, antidepressant or anticonvulsant drugs, steroids, some birth control pills) then you should see a doctor. After the medical problems are solved or managed, the weight loss program can be started.

If the reason is the appetite, then the main solution is in your plate, without forgetting regular physical activity too. Firstly, you should do an analysis of what your eating habits are, what you eat on a regular basis during a day, and at what time. Maybe writing it down will help. Secondly you should ask yourself if what you’re eating is good for your health or not.

The ideal plate looks like this: ½ vegetables, ¼ proteins, ¼ carbohydrates.

A weight loss program should not be about weighing food or counting calories. It would be easier if you would know the approximate amount of different types of products.

The correct serving sizes:

– pork, beef, lamb, poultry: a piece that equals a palm size;
– ham, smoked ham: 3-4 slices;
– salami, baloney, sausages: 2 slices;
* Recommended: 3 servings of red meat/week, 3 servings of sausages, ham/week, 5 servings of white meat/week.
– lean fish, oily fish: a piece that equals a palm size;
– shellfish, smoked fish: two handful;
* Recommended: as often as possible, even a few times a day, oily fish 4-5 servings/week.
– eggs: 2 whole eggs or 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites for an omelet;
* Recommended: 2-4 eggs/week.
– milk: 1 glass of semi-skimmed milk (250 ml);
– yogurt: 1 jar light yogurt (330ml)or 1 jar of plain yoghurt (150g);
– cheese: 1 jar of cottage cheese (200g), 1 ball of mozzarella (125g);
– pressed cheese, ricotta cheese: a piece or amount that equals ½ palm size;
– parmesan: 2 table spoons;
– butter: 1 little cube of butter (10g);
– sour cream: 1 table spoon;
* Recommended: 2 servings/day of dairy products. It is best to choose low fat dairies.
– white bread: 1 slice (that has around 30g);
– whole-grain bread: 1 big slice or 2 small slices (70g);
– bagel: 1 small bagel (30g);
– baguette: a piece that equals a palm size (50g);
– pita: 1 small pita;
– crackers: 3 slices or a small pack;
– cereals: two handful;
– muesli: one handful;
– popcorn: 2 handful;
– pretzels: one handful;
– cereal bar: 1 cereal bar;
– rice: 3 table spoons;
– pasta: 3 table spoons;
– polenta: 4 table spoons or a piece that equals a palm size;
* Recommended: 3 servings/day of carbohydrates (e.g.: pasta, rice, bread, polenta, whole-grain cereals).
– olives: around 10-15 olives;
– oils: one teaspoon;
– pistachios: one handful;
– nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts: one handful;
– sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or other kind of seeds: one handful;
* Recommended: 3-4 servings/week of seeds, almonds, pistachios, nuts, hazelnuts; 2-3 teaspoons of oil/day.
– cakes: a piece that equals the size of 2-3 fingers;
– ice cream: one ball;
– cookies and biscuits: 3 pieces;
– chocolate: 2 small squares once;
* Recommended: sweets are not recommended to be eaten very often. Those who are beginning a weight loss program would be allowed to eat these products once a week in the size described above. In this way the weight loss program won’t seem so difficult to follow and the transition to a healthy lifestyle will be easier. Ideally we should not eat sugar because our body doesn’t need it.
– dried vegetables: 3 table spoons of beans, peas, corn or other dried vegetables;
– fresh vegetables: you can eat as much as you want (without the salad dressings!);
– potatoes: 3 table spoons or 1 potato;
* Recommended: 1 serving/day of dried vegetables; do not eat them with bread, rice, pasta, polenta, cereals because all are complex carbohydrates (all have starch). Fresh vegetables can be eaten without any kind of limitation.
– fruits: 1 banana, 2 handful of strawberries or other kind of berries, 1 apple, 1 pear, 4 plums, 4 small apricots, 1 peach, 1 handful of cherries, 1 handful of grapes, 1 orange, 1 grapefruit, 2 kiwi, 1 mango, 1 slice of melon or watermelon, 1 slice of pineapple;
– dried fruits: 3 dried plums or apricots or figs or dates or other dried fruits, ½ handful of raisins;
– fresh-pressed fruit juice: 1 small glass (150 ml);
* Recommended: 1-2 fruits/day, 1 glass of fresh-pressed fruit juice/day, dried fruits once a week instead of sweets.
– water at least 2 l per day (1 l before noon, 1 l after noon), tea (not ice tea or fruit tea from the store), coffee (ideally 1-2 cups/day), alcohol is not recommended at all;
* Recommended: extracalories are brought you by sugar, honey or other sweeteners that you add into your coffee or tea. Do not drink alcohol, because it brings only “empty calories” (1 g of alcohol has 7 calories). Avoid cocktails, these mixes have hidden sugar, hence calories.
– salt: the daily salt intake should not be more then 5g/day. Don’t forget the hidden salt from sausages, sauces, ketchup, mayonnaise, preserved foods, pressed cheese, regular cheese, fish, shellfish, mineral water;
– use spices, herbs (hot pepper can be a friend because increases metabolic rate with 25% and maintains it high for around three hours after a meal).

During a weight loss program you should eat regularly, have three meals per day and possibly two snacks between the meals (but that is not necessary). Snacks (fruits, fresh vegetables, seeds, nuts, yogurt, milk) are helping to reduce hunger and therefore you will not eat so much at the main meal.

The truth is that, besides water that has 0 (zero) calories, everything fattens in a way or another (depends on what we eat and in what amount). There is just one possibility: eat less and exercise.


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