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What is the best diet?

When it comes to weight loss, there is no one-size-fits-all regime. There are no quick fixes or easy solutions if you want to maintain weight loss for the long term. ‍ The best diet is the diet that works for you!

Steph Gregory
Steph Gregory
Health coach
What is the best diet?

When you look at any fad or trendy diets/slimming groups, they all promise quick weight loss in a short period, which only means that weight will be regained as soon as you stop following that diet. It’s a cycle that needs to be broken, as it’s unhealthy for your mind and body.

We got some tips from Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) Steph Gregory, our head health coach at Embla UK:

Everybody has different needs daily, and every weight loss journey is different due to peoples’ individual lifestyles. A diet sometimes comes with negative connotations because of how we see this in society, and when embarking on a weight loss journey, you don’t just change your diet. It’s much better to call this a lifestyle change instead, as that’s precisely what you’re doing - making positive changes to your lifestyle to be your healthiest self!

It’s important not to restrict yourself or label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Going back to diet culture, there is such a strong emphasis on limiting food intake, whether counting calories or banning certain foods from your diet - all this does is create a bad relationship with food and increase your craving for these foods. Plus, every food has a part to play in your diet; some are more nutrient dense and are daily foods, whereas some are “now-and-again” foods because they bring us joy.

You want to avoid making 1001 changes at a time. It can seem overwhelming to think about changing your eating habits, movement, sleep, hydration and other important goals. Focus on the changes that are within your control and can be changed at that time; you can start small and build upon your aims over weeks and months, for example, going for a 30-minute walk twice a week and adding an extra day every two weeks until you walk 30 minutes, seven days a week. The best way to create goals and build on them is to work with a coach; this way, they can help support your changes and ensure you’re on track to keep those changes sustainable, but also chat with you if things don’t work so well.

Try not to compare yourself or your weight loss journey to that of other people. It’s important to acknowledge that your journey is unique, and you may have other factors in your life that impact your changes, like having children, having a stressful job, working different shift patterns, having health conditions etc. Hundreds of factors can influence your weight loss journey, so celebrating your wins and focusing on your own path is the key to your success.

To lose weight without hunger

- Eating foods you like is essential; if the food doesn’t taste good to you, you’re not likely to maintain this for the long term.

- At Embla, we take the time to get to know you, our members and focus on how our recommendations can fit into your lifestyle. We work with you to create goals and habits that work for you.

- The food we focus on is always based on wholefoods, boosting your protein and fibre intake to keep you feeling full and building good foundations for lasting weight loss.

Why is it hard to lose weight?

Your body is an intelligent machine; its basic instincts are for survival and protection. So, when you start to lose weight, your body automatically wants to protect that weight from being lost as part of the survival mechanism.

If you start a strict diet, restricting your food intake and feeling hungry often, your body thinks it’s going into starvation/famine mode.

Other times, your mindset around weight loss can be ‘all or nothing’, and this can feel like a rollercoaster. Social media can often portray how ‘easy’ the latest diet trend is and make big promises of losing weight quickly. They can often go to the extremes of cutting out whole food groups or drastically reducing your energy intake (calories), all of which can work for the short term but can have long-term adverse effects on your health and especially mental health.

Over the last few years, new research has shown that medication can be a good starting point for losing weight and maintaining the weight loss afterwards. It helps to build new habits and behaviours that you can sustain long-term and gives you back control of understanding your hunger cues.

Studies have shown that when you finish a ‘normal diet’, you put the weight back on and then some. But, if you are using a combination of weight-loss medication and exercise, it is twice as effective as medication or exercise alone.

If you have difficulty getting started with your weight loss journey or have been through the yo-yo diets and want to break free of diet cycles, then now could be the perfect time to think about a combination of medication and lifestyle changes supported through personalised health coaching.

Our health coaching team has excellent experience supporting members in making sustainable lifestyle changes alongside medication use. Medical weight loss gives an added dimension of support that, alongside diet and movement changes, you can maintain your lifestyle changes for the long term. Alongside other factors, the medication helps to make you feel less hungry and can be a strong motivator in your weight loss process.

Exercise & weight loss

Exercise is important when you want to lose weight healthily, but at the start of your journey - especially if you are severely obese - it is less critical.

You should focus on your nutrition and eating habits; movement can follow later.

The more goals and changes, the harder it gets. We work with you to build your lifestyle habits at a pace that suits you, starting with your nutrition and eating habits and adding in movement when you’re ready. We talk with members every week and can see when the right time is to introduce movement. We work with you to find exercise that you enjoy so that it becomes a permanent part of your lifestyle.

Support from your circle of friends is important.

Last but not least, feeling supported by those you surround yourself with is an integral part of sustainable weight loss.

It is difficult to lose weight without help from your friends and family, so we also recommend our members talk with their friends about how important their support will be throughout this weight loss journey. That way, it can help to relieve the peer pressure when you’re out with friends and why you might naturally be eating smaller portions, not fancying a dessert, or only wanting to drink one glass of wine.

Frequently asked questions about dieting.

Here you can find a collection of the frequently asked questions about dieting:

Do diets work?

Yes and no. You can easily and quickly lose weight with some effective diets, but long term, it is often not sustainable due to restrictions or creating bad relationships with certain food groups. There is a high likelihood that you will put all that weight back on again after that diet.

If you want to lose weight, focussing on your lifestyle changes can give better results and is a healthier choice. The smallest changes you make can have some of the most significant impacts over time; for example, if you drink multiple lattes/cappuccinos or other milky drinks in a day, reducing these to one a day can make a significant long-term change. Or, if you park further away from work, shopping, or visiting friends, you can quickly get more movement into your day without making a significant change.

Can I lose weight without exercising?

You can lose weight without exercise. Exercise plays a minor role, especially at the beginning of a weight loss journey. But as you build your healthy habits and routines, exercise becomes a more prominent player in your continued weight loss and is vital to ensure that you continue to lose fat mass and not lose any muscle mass.

Your muscle mass contributes to the burning of the fat mass, so the best thing you can do is combine both exercise and a focus on your nutrition and eating habits when you want to lose weight.

From our health coaching experience, during the first 2-4 weeks, your nutrition and eating habits are the first changes to focus on, and then start adding in movement.

How do I avoid putting the weight back on?

You avoid gaining weight again by making lasting lifestyle changes instead of focusing on quick fixes and fad diets. It’s a long-term change that makes sure your daily diet is not only healthy and nutritious but something you think tastes good; it’s movement that you find fun, your friends and family support you, and you get a good night's sleep - these are all significant changes that support your healthy changes and help maintain your weight loss.

How much weight should I lose per week?

How quickly you lose weight depends on how overweight you are. If you don’t have that much weight to lose, then you shouldn’t be losing more than 500g per week, if you are severely overweight, then it is safe to be losing up to 1.2kg per week at the start of your weight loss journey, but this will decrease over the weeks.

Which diet should I choose?

There is no ‘perfect’ diet or ‘best way’ to eat; it’s about finding what works for you and your life and what you enjoy. Weight loss doesn’t have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and avoiding diets that promise quick fixes or effortless weight loss is a good idea. The best diet is to work on lifestyle changes.

Which diet is most effective?

Even the most effective diet plan is ineffective in the long term. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, you have a high chance of gaining that weight back.

Can I lose weight without counting calories?

Yes! You can easily lose weight without counting calories. However, research shows that it is difficult to achieve lasting weight loss by counting calories. Instead, focus on eating a high-quality diet so that naturally, you eat less.

This means a diet based on wholefoods, which are higher in fibre and protein - keeping you feeling fuller and satisfied for longer. For example, chicken, tofu, fish, eggs, vegetables, wholemeal bread, wholegrain rice and pasta, fruit, beans, legumes and nuts.

Can I lose weight without being hungry?

Yes! You can lose weight by fueling yourself with highly nutritious foods without feeling hungry. With the support and guidance of your coach, they can give you tools for lifestyle changes that result in lasting weight loss and feeling full.

If you want to lose weight, we don’t recommend choosing a diet that encourages you to eat too little food and always leaves you hungry. When you finish the diet, you compensate for this by eating more than you ever would have, as your body has gone through a long period of starvation and is trying to recover from the trauma.

In this article
Steph Gregory
Steph Gregory
Health coach

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