Conventional wisdom says that if you're trying to lose weight , it makes sense to eat less in order to cut calories , leading to a calorie deficit that helps the pounds drop off. (Of course, exercise is part of the equation, too.) But there's a flip side to this argument: Sometimes eating more is the key to reaching your goals. You might be thinking, Yeah, eating more can help bring about weight loss, money grows on trees, and making out with a frog is the best way to find true love. But it's true, and you don't have to take my word for it. Let registered dietitians show you the way.
Adding more quality food into your diet can be a more natural, enjoyable, and effective way to lose weight than simply trying to reduce your calorie intake overall.
Abby Langer , R.D. and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto, explains that many people fall into a trap of completely overhauling their diet by cutting out everything they like and going all-in on healthier foods. Unfortunately, that method is basically setting people up to fail.
That's why Langer describes herself as a "pencil" dietitian—meaning she has people add a ton of healthy foods to their diet—instead of an "eraser" one who advocates removing every single food that gives you joy all in one fell swoop.
"People typically associate healthy eating with dieting or restriction—of sugars, fats, cheese pizza, whatever it may be," Langer tells SELF. "I find that when people are cognizant of a food restriction in their lives, they tend to crave it. Restricting an entire food group may do more damage to your physical and emotional health than including it," she explains. I've put this thinking to work for me and it has completely changed my eating habits for the better. (As if that weren't enough, Chrissy Teigen is on board with this anti-diet mindset , too.)
"What I try to do with people is add beautiful, whole, quality foods to their lives. People naturally respond positively to things being added to their diets," Langer explains. When you're loading up on delicious, healthy foods but not forbidding yourself from indulging, you're avoiding the kind of deprivation that leads to yo-yo dieting.
"Eating enough is key for preventing binges. When you let yourself get too hungry, the moment you get your hands on something, it's hard to control yourself," Abbey Sharp , R.D., a blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen who dropped weight once she started eating more, tells SELF.
Another pro: Wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy with actual fat in it, and whole grains are all jam-packed with nutrients.
"I find people are afraid of gaining weight [when they add more healthy food into their diets], but what it creates a situation where they're so much more physically and emotionally satisfied with what they're eating that they lose weight," says Langer. Of course, you should still keep how many calories you need for weight loss in mind. But since you'd usually have to eat a lot more healthy foods to get close to the calories in unhealthy ones, this lifestyle can mean you get to eat more but still lose weight.
Sharp agrees. "Nutrient-dense foods rich in fiber, protein , and healthy fats are much more satiating than a quick little candy or treat with refined sugar," she explains. When you build your diet mostly around nutritious foods, "you end up eating less overall because you're so much more satisfied throughout the day," she says.
Then if you want to treat yourself to something you love, as long as you're being mindful , you're way less likely to go overboard.
If you're eating too few calories to begin with, adding foods to your diet might be the only way to meet your weight-loss goals.
"People associate calories in with calories out and think the more they cut, the more they lose," says Sharp. "It doesn’t always work that way—bodies are so complicated!" Going on a super low-calorie diet can backfire in a frustrating way and lead to weight-loss plateaus . "[Your body] knows what's going on when you cut calories too drastically . It may seem like a significantly low-calorie diet is working at first, but soon your body will catch on and reduce calorie output to deal with the reduced calorie input," says Sharp.
Although it doesn't happen overnight, too much time on a super low-calorie diet can slow down your metabolism , so then you have to eat even less to lose weight, and you wind up in this awful, unnecessary cycle. Eating enough calories helps reassure your body that it has sufficient food so your metabolism can chug along smoothly, promoting weight loss to the best of its abilities.
With that in mind, go forth and stock your kitchen with healthy foods that add a ton of diversity to your meals. Make sure to grab a few treats for those moments you've just got to indulge, too.
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Kissairis Munoz November 14, 2017 November 14, 2017
As the weather gets cooler, our natural inclination is to stay inside. Cozy fires, comfort food and the sweet elasticity of sweatpants — why brave the outdoors?
As it turns out, we aren’t. Did you know that us Americans spend 90 percent of our lives indoors? (1) Between commuting to and from our jobs, spending 8+ hours a day working and going about our normal daily business, we see nature more on our TVs than we do in real life.
Not only is that a depressing statistic, but there are real health benefits of being outdoors that we’re missing out on when we’re confined to our homes and office buildings. From improving our moods to feeling more chill, being outdoors is something we all could use more of.
6 Health Benefits of Being Outdoors
1. Breathe better air
Between pollution, seasonal allergies and creepy crawlies outside, some of us would prefer staying inside as often as possible. But if you thought you’re breathing better air inside, I hate to break it to you: indoor air pollution can be up to 10 times worse than what you’re inhaling outdoors.
Most of us think of pollution as factory smoke or car exhaust, but indoor air pollution means our homes are loaded with it too, and often at levels significantly higher than what you’d find outside. (2) Inadequate ventilation, paints, chemicals from household and personal products and mold all contribute. So if you need to get a breath of fresh air, it’s time to head outside.
2. Soak up that vitamin D
One of the most common deficiencies among American adults is a vitamin D deficiency. What makes the vitamin different from most of the ones we need is that our bodies actually produce most of the vitamin D we need, instead of relying on the foods we eat to supply it. Our bodies convert the sunshine we soak up into chemicals that turn it into the vitamin D we all know and love.
However, if we don’t get outdoors enough, our body struggles to get enough sunshine to make vitamin D. Whenever possible, try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun each day and reap the health benefits of being outdoors.
3. Help counteract seasonal affective disorder
While this might apply only for half of the year, it’s a big one. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that strikes in early autumn and worsens in the winter. While researchers aren’t sure what causes it exactly, a lack of light and vitamin D is suspected to play a role.
Even if you don’t have SAD, a lack of natural light during cooler weather can really affect your mood. (3) Mitigate the effects and increase your vitamin D intake at the same time by heading outside.
4. Indulge in forest bathing
No, it doesn’t involve an outdoor shower. It’s closer to camping. But forest bathing, or forest therapy, is based on the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku, which emphasizes spending time away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and embracing nature.
The Japanese, already wise with their Okinawa diet, are on to something. Getting into nature can boost activity of a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection and tumor cells. (4) It also help lower your blood pressure and reduce stress, something we can all use. (5)
5. Ease anxiety
Feeling anxious about something? Taking a stroll outside can help. Researchers have found that just being outdoors in nature can improve your overall feelings of well-being and reduce anxiety. (6) Escaping the indoors and heading outside can also boost creative juices — it’s a reason why walking meetings are becoming more popular.
6. Practice your grounding
Have you heard of grounding, or earthing, before? It’s a way of connecting to the earth’s energy by going barefoot. Our feet draw in the earth’s electrical charges, allowing them to flow through us. The results are improved sleep, reduced inflammation and more time in nature — all wins. And of course, you need to be outside to connect with the earth; carpet or hardwood floors don’t have the same effects!
How to Spend More Time Outdoors
Struggling to figure out how you can add the health benefits of being outdoors into your lifestyle and spend more time outside? It’s not as difficult as you think.
Exercise outside. Take your yoga sessions to the backyard or skip the treadmill and visit the park instead.
Take a walk. Break up the mid-afternoon slump with a short walk outside, or go on a walk as you chat on the phone.
Eat outside. Enjoy a change of scenery and eat your meals outdoors.
Embrace seasonal activities. Cold outside? Play in the snow, head to the park or go for a brisk walk. Warm out? Try hiking or watching your favorite baseball team play.
So no matter what the season, it’s time to get off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors. Your health will thank you.