For emotional eaters or anyone really, what do we eat to lose weight?
If we are going to talk about what foods help us lose weight then we’ll have to categorize them. Some foods will be in more than one category and some will only appear in one. However, weight loss can be achieved in all of them as will be explained below.
1. Whole Grains (complex carbohydrates only)
This is basically a diet where you don’t eat any sugar or simple carbohydrates.
– Sugar and desserts/sweets
– Anything made with white flour
– Processed foods
– Refined oats or other grains
– Breads that are grainy like pumpernickel and dark rye.
– Whole wheat pastas and longer grain rice.
– Oatmeal (non instant)
This food grouping focuses on the carbs but also allows for meat, fruit and vegetables.
So with this group people are trying to limit foods that will spike their insulin too much and they are bang on in terms of their choices. Leaving out the simple carbs is a good diet strategy as they do indeed spike insulin the most which we don’t want because high, sustained insulin levels in your blood is responsible for weight gain.
If you ate a typical western diet and then switched to this whole grain diet you would lose weight simply because you would have less foods that influence your insulin levels. But if you pretty much ate like this anyway (whole grains) and your weight has been stable for a long time then obviously you’re not losing anything and you’d need something other change or intervention to move the scale downward.
And if you do switch to this diet where you are eating less sugars and more whole grains, but you eat A LOT of whole grains you still won’t lose weight because good carbs increase insulin too, and too many ‘good carbs’ will still have your insulin levels up high for a longer period of time.
2- Low Fat (Think the ‘Lite’ version of everything)
This diet is used by athletes a lot where they need energy for training through consuming mainly carbs, but don’t want to have the burden of excess calories that come with fat. This diet was very popular in the 80s where everyone was staying away from fat hoping to drop a few pounds.
At that time eggs were the devil and low fat muffins and granola bars were angelic for your health.
– Meat/Pork and the dark meat sections of chicken/turkey
– Butter or cream
– High fat dressings, sauces and spreads
– Avocado, nuts, some seeds
– Peanut butter
– Chicken breast
– Egg whites
– Pam spray
– Low fat dressings and sauces, syrups
– Veggies and fruit
– Low Fat yogurt
– Muffins, breads, pastas, pancakes, potatoes, rice etc.
You get the picture. It was a hard diet to walk away from and critics to this ultra high carb diet were met with a lot of resistance. No kidding! Who wants to give up muffins, granola bars, spaghetti, mashed potatoes and pancakes? It’s a dream diet.
Now I did say at the beginning of this article that you would lose weight with any of these food groupings and it’s still true with this one. The catch is that you have to eat ‘diet portions’ of these foods to lose weight and nobody wants to eat like a bird anymore.
Because these foods are high carb they will spike your insulin day after day and so you have to limit them and basically go on a diet in the old fashioned sense of the word. Meaning you have to use willpower and discipline to make sure you eat little.
So yes you can lose weight eating these foods but it’s no fun and usually doesn’t last.
3- No Carbs (Paleo, Keto, Atkins etc.)
This grouping of food represents what’s popular today and is responsible for multiple blogs springing up on those above mentioned diets and also multiple Facebook posts of people’s new high fat dinners.
These diets are very successful at getting people to lose weight even though they limit many of our favorite foods.
– All the fun stuff in the previous group; Muffins, breads, pastas, pancakes, potatoes, rice etc.
– Some fruit like cherries, bananas and grapes.
– Anything that has flour, oats, grain, sugar
– Corn and corn based products
– Most desserts
– Any meat or animal product
– Milk, cream, butter
– Avocados and nuts/seeds
– Peanut Butter (natural)
– Greek Yogurt (plain)
– Some fruit, most veggies
At first glance it doesn’t look all that appealing of a diet to be fair, so most people are surprised when they try it and feel satisfied and a sense of optimism that they can stick to it for the long term.
The reason for that is FAT. Fat tastes good and gives food flavor. It’s what gives flavor to most of the ‘What’s In‘ category above.
Think about it, you can have a bacon burger (without the bun) with mushrooms, tomato and melted cheese as a main course. Then a Caesar salad with high fat dressing and bacon bits with natural peanut butter chocolate balls (sweetened with sweetener) for dessert.
People on this diet eat lots of BBQ grilled meats, salads with high fat dressings, cheese platters, chicken wings and many low carb desserts. It’s much more involved than you think and people have been very creative in making these low carb diets interesting and even something to look forward to.
Some people who adopt these diets do miss carbs and so they allow themselves a cheat meal once each week to get that carb craving out of their system. They’ll plan a pizza day with ice cream or a big bowl of pasta for dinner that night and after satisfying their carb craving they feel ready to go another week.
The cheat meal will raise their insulin levels that day but because their insulin will be low for the rest of the week the fat burning effect will still take effect in their bodies.
Those are the 3 most popular food groupings whenever people talk about what kind of foods they should eat to lose weight. All of them have their pros and cons and my advice would be to pick one you think would work best for you in the long run.
Something that you can stick to and be satisfied with so that instead of dreading your diet you actually look forward to eating, knowing you put yourself on the right track to lose weight.
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