Weight loss eating plans are not one size fits all
Think back to the last time you shopped for jeans or pants. Were they one-size-fits all? Of course not. Chances are, you had a goal size and style in mind. And the same goes for the weight loss eating plan that will get you into your desired pants size. Despite what many fad diets tout, eating plans are not one size fits all. Just like we all come in all shapes and sizes, different diets work for different people.
“It’s important to find a lifestyle plan that fits your individual needs—one that you can work with long-term,” says Peggy Kochenbach, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of POK Communications. Fad diets that promise rapid weight loss may work in the short-term, but unless they are a good fit for your body and your individual needs, they won’t be sustainable. “Everyone’s lifestyle and body types are unique, and there are many health, lifestyle and environmental factors to consider when choosing a weight loss plan that works best for you,” she says.
In general, there are three main body types, each of which has different dietary requirements. They are:
Mesomorph: Mesomorphs are proportionally built and tend to build muscle easily. Muscular mesomorphs have an easier time than the other two body types when it comes to staying fit, but they can gain fat if they don’t follow the right eating plan.
Ectomorph: With longer limbs and a narrower shape, ectomorphs are not muscular, and they do not put weight on easily. Ectomorphs can still have a higher body fat percentage despite appearing thin, however.
Endomorph: Softer and rounder, endomorphs gain fat more easily than the other two body types and have the hardest time losing weight.Think about which type most closely describes you, and as you select a weight loss eating plan, consider the following tips for your type:
- Eat a balance of whole grain carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
- Go for lean proteins, such as eggs or egg whites, turkey, lentils, and protein powder.
- For carbs, choose quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, and other whole grains.
- Eat healthful fats via olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
- Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to burn fat.
- Incorporate moderate cardiovascular exercise, like walking, jogging, or biking.
- Aim for a total of 150 minutes of activity per week, broken into 30-minute bouts.
- Add strength training at least two to three times per week.
- Eat four to six smaller meals per day.
- Aim for 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
- Choose nutrient-dense foods, such as dried fruits, nuts, and starchy vegetables.
- Make sure at least 30 percent of your calories come from healthy fats.
- For exercise, concentrate on strength training and muscle building and keep cardio to a minimum.
- Avoid crash diets, which will only mess with your metabolism and make weight loss even more challenging.
- Eat frequent, smaller meals. Don’t let more than five hours go by without eating.
- Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
- Eat high-fiber foods that will help you feel full longer.
- Limit carbohydrates and when you eat them, opt for whole grains.
- Go for lean proteins, such as chicken, beans, Greek yogurt, and fish.
- Don’t cut out too much fat; eat foods that contain healthful fats to help you stay satiated.
- For exercise, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as jogging, walking, biking, or swimming, at least five days a week.
- Engage in strength training two to three days a week. Muscle burns more calories than fat. 5
No matter what your body type, keep the following tips in mind:
Plan your attack. “Consider your current lifestyle, assess your goals, identify your challenges and think about the things that are most important to you,” Kochenbach says. “For some people, this means a focused eating plan that lays out specific foods in specific quantities. For others, having flexibility or incorporating social activities are most important,” she says. Ideally, you will want to approach weight loss with a combination of diet and exercise.
Consider your general health. Aside from body type, keep health considerations in mind as you look into an eating plan. “These factors include everything from chronic health conditions such as diabetes or celiac disease to following a vegan lifestyle to optimizing your personalized weight loss goals,” Kochenbach says. “In all cases, the most important thing you can do when choosing a weight loss plan is to go for something that promotes a healthy intake of protein, carbohydrates, and is sustainable for the long term.”
Get moving. “Exercise should be a key component of any plan for weight loss,” Kochenbach says. Cardiovascular exercise will help you lose weight and provide health benefits. Weight training builds strength and increases muscle mass, and since muscle burns more calories than fat, that muscle will keep your metabolism higher on an ongoing basis.” She adds that your nutrient balance may shift depending on your exercise regimen.
As you embark on a weight loss plan, Kochenbach stresses that one of the best things you can do is find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist—an expert in the areas of food and nutrition. “An RD can help you navigate the myriad of options, identify the best approach, and help you through the process with coaching,” she says. “An RD can also help you determine how to adjust your food and nutrient intake to optimize your fitness gains.”