Flexible Diet: How to lose weight while eating everything
It is now well established that flexible nutrition is extremely effective in both losing weight and maintaining weight loss, without posing restrictions to people who are on diet. This new way of eating, which focuses on macronutrients instead of counting calories or regular meal timing, gives a new opportunity to those who want to lose weight without modifying their dietary habits, but just by adjusting them to what it requires. In other words, all kinds of foods are allowed, even sweets or burgers, as long as the desired amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate intake fits with the individual needs to achieve the desired goal.
“Changing our habits is the cornerstone of a successful nutrition plan that will lead to excess weight loss. However, most nutrition plans focus on strict limitation of calories. The majority of people that adhere to such plans fail in sticking to them for a long period of time so as to lose excess weight while maintain the desired weight forever, as explained by Mr. Dimitris Oikonomakis, Specialist in Dietetics, the head of a team of nutritionists and trainers who love good nutrition and exercise
“Flexible nutrition is a nutritional suggestion, not a diet, which can be followed by anyone, anywhere, without banning foods, without counting calories, without causing stress or marginalizing people who try to achieve or maintain their ideal weight”, he adds.
The simple rule of thumb is to reduce energy intake (calories) in comparison with energy expenditure. Nevertheless, finding the right calorie intake is not a simple mathematical formula; there are many individual factors that should be taken into account (gender, weight, height, age, basic metabolic rate, physical activity level). In addition, many parameters are also considered, as simple caloric restriction is not enough on its own.
“Every person has a certain amount of body fat, which depends on various factors, including genetics, activity levels and eating habits throughout life, which the body tries to maintain. A sharp decrease in calories can enhance the body’s reaction aiming at its protection, making calorie burning more difficult. Another result is the decrease in the secretion of leptin, a hormone released from fat cells in adipose tissue, which travels to the hypothalamus through the circulatory system, and signals to the brain that there is sufficient fat (and thus energy) to stop the body asking for food. As a consequence, there is a permanent feeling of hunger and calorie burning slows down, thus leading to inability to lose weight”, Mr. Oikonomakis further explains.
Another factor that should be taken into account when considering weight loss is that abrupt caloric reductions carries the risk of slowing down the metabolic rate. As a result, when the body resists at the beginning of a diet regimen, further caloric reduction that would allow the body to start losing weight is excluded.
Physical activity contributes significantly in weight loss and in maintaining good body function. Nevertheless, the extent of weight loss depends on initial body weight, the type of exercise and metabolic ability, among other factors. This means that the target of 1 kilo per week, for example, may be realistic for some people, but not for others.
Only a professional knows how to analyze and examine correctly all these factors, taking into account any disorders that affect metabolism (e.g. Hashimoto’s disease) or hormonal disorders (e.g. menopause). Knowing these factors can help us determine the amounts of macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) that should be consumed on a daily basis to lose weight, while preserving muscle mass (proteins), controlling the provision of “fuel” to the muscles (carbohydrates) so as to ensure energy to respond to daily activities, as well as hormone synthesis and vitamin absorption (fat).
Beyond that, a flexible diet gives the freedom to choose the foods that will be consumed, based on each person’s preferences and requirements of macronutrient intake.
“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that carbs in sweets and vegetables are both converted into glucose and glycogen. Therefore, there are no banned foods in flexible nutrition. The desired weight can be achieved by eating sausages and confectionery, as would happen if a person had chosen to eat chicken breast and broccoli. This flexibility offers multiple advantages, among which is the ability to keep up with our social life, which may be lost when we attempt to keep up with a strict nutrition plan”, Mr. Dimitris Oikonomakis points out.
“Nevertheless, being able to choose foods with more “attractive” taste does not necessarily mean that one should always select such foods. Because this excludes the intake of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements), which play a vital role in body’s proper functioning (immune system, circulatory system, cardiovascular system, etc.)” Mr. Oikonomakis adds, and he concludes: “The effectiveness of this approach to nutrition has been demonstrated in studies, which support that it is easier to follow a less strict diet, because it is not considered a diet but a different philosophy on nutrition”.