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Nutrition tips to staying in shape in 2022

5 min read

Whether you have you’ve set a resolution to lose weight or simply want to start living and eating healthier, it helps to get professional advice when it comes to diet, weight loss and optimal nutrition.

Clean eating and maintaining a good weight are amongst the worthiest goals we can have for the New Year, but how you go about it is important. After all, there’s little point in reaching your goal weight in 2022, if you are unable to sustain it.

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa and its team of registered dieticians are weighing in on what’s important to know about weight loss in 2022.

LOSING WEIGHT IS NOT A SPRINT

Once we set a weight loss goal, we naturally want to get there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, sustainable weight loss doesn’t work this way. The best chance for long-term results comes with viewing your efforts as a patient, committed journey. Drawing on evidence-based research, our dietitians all agree that restrictive or radical eating fads must be avoided.

Lila Bruk says, “Set small achievable goals with the aim of achieving a loss of 0.5 to 1kg per week. See a dietitian to get an individualised eating plan and weight loss strategy tailored to your lifestyle and nutrition preferences.”

Zamantungwa Khumalo adds, “Allow your body time to adjust to the change in your eating habits. You cannot change years of poor eating habits in just one week or one month. A healthy, balanced diet is the way to go, along with lifestyle changes such as increased regular physical activity.”

Retha Harmse concludes, “Choose healthier routines and habits rather than restrictions and deprivation. If your new healthy eating plan and exercise routine fit your lifestyle, then you are more likely stick to it long-term. Aim for progress rather than perfection, and avoid having an all-or-nothing approach which can lead to getting stuck. If you aren’t able to make the best choice, then just make the better choice!”

WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENTS CAN BE HARMFUL

With promises of the fastest, easiest results, weight loss supplements can be tempting. However, most products that are marketed as weight loss aids are poorly regulated and are not scientifically tested for efficacy.

They may contain ingredients that have harmful effects on the body’s organs, such as kidneys and liver. Many cannot be taken for extended periods of time, and therefore cannot offer you sustainable support.

Lila says, “There are no quick fixes. If it seems to be too good to be true then it is! Many of these products contain potentially harmful ingredients including stimulants, laxatives, diuretics and even banned substances.

“The only way to achieve successful weight loss and maintain your healthy weight is to follow a sustainable, balanced eating plan combined with regular physical activity.”

CARBS CAN AID NUTRITION

Diets restricting carbohydrates remain trendy even though dietitians, nutrition researchers and other health professionals warn of the health risks of radically curbing carbs to favour proteins and fats.

Retha says, “Demonising carbohydrates for causing weight gain is like blaming cars for all accidents. It is a bit more complex than that!

“Carbohydrates have the same energy density as protein at 17 kilojoules per gram. You can easily reduce your daily kilojoule intake for weight loss without eliminating carbohydrates. Carbs are important sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

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“For weight loss eating plans, choose wholegrain and complex carbohydrates as far as possible. Make carbohydrates a part of your balanced diet and keep your portion sizes in check.”

HOW TO STAY FULLER FOR LONGER

There’s nothing like hunger to derail your efforts to lose weight. Hence preventing hunger is an important strategy when you are following a weight loss eating plan.

Lila advises, “To stay fuller for longer, fibre in your nutrition is really important. If you choose foods that are high in fibre, it will keep you full for longer as well as keep your blood sugar levels more balanced.

“High fibre foods include legumes, fruit, vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. Protein and fat also add to the satiety of a meal.

“To feel satisfied with your meals, ensure that half your plate is covered with vegetables and salad; a quarter of your plate is a serving of lean protein such as chicken, legumes or fish; and the last quarter is fibre-rich whole grains.

“Include a small portion of unsaturated fats such as olives, avocado, nuts, seeds or olive oil for a fully balanced and filling meal that will enhance your weight loss.”

CLEAN EATING NUTRITION TRENDS

Clean eating trends have become increasingly popular and are often taken up by those committed to healthy lifestyles, wellness and self-care.

Generally, there is a focus on eating whole-foods and an avoidance of highly processed ones. Some clean eating trends promote organically produced foods and eschew foods containing preservatives or food additives.

There is no one clean eating regime. However the trend does encompass some fad diets that restrict the intake of certain foods such as dairy or animal proteins, or food components such as gluten .Zamantungwa says “There are many different definitions of clean eating around the world, however in simple terms ‘clean eating’ is a healthy balanced diet. Include a variety of the different whole-foods such as fruits and vegetables; focus on lean meat, skinless chicken and fish; eat whole grains and small amounts of healthy mono- and poly unsaturated fats on a daily basis.

“Drink plenty of water and choose healthy cooking methods such as grilling, baking, steaming or boiling instead of frying. When eating clean, heavily refined and processed foods should be avoided.”

ALSO READ: Feed the skin: Must-have ingredients for skin nutrition

IS FASTING A QUICK FIX?

Intermittent fasting regimes focus on when you eat rather than what you eat. They demand lifestyle changes and should not be done without consultation with your doctor first as fasting is not safe for all people.

Retha says, “Fasting shows quick weight loss but it is not sustainable. It can lead to muscle breakdown; a slower metabolic rate and interference with your liver enzymes. When we are in a fasting state, the body’s energy first comes from glycogen, the glucose stores in our muscle and liver, and then from your muscle in a process called gluconeogenesis. Fat is more like a 2-day notice account and it takes longer than an intermittent fasting period to convert fat stores to ketones as energy. For those who are serious about achieving their weight loss goals this year, following a balanced, healthy eating plan and getting daily physical activity is the safe and sustainable pathway to success!”

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