I know it’s been awhile since I posted my last blog post… It seems as though my ability to juggle health coaching, personal training, and creating content for both my YouTube and Instagram accounts really isn’t my strength!
I’ve also been busy creating my free PDF about ‘The Plant-Based Transformation Blueprint’ which shows you the exact process I used to lose over 15kgs (33 pounds) and overcome several health issues. It’s completely free to download, so if you’re struggling with poor health and/or weight gain you should definitely check it out here.
In today’s blog post I’m going to be talking about 5 foods you should limit and/or avoid in your diet in order to achieve maximum weight loss and health. If you follow me on social media you would already know that I follow a plant-based diet - not just for ethical reasons but also for health reasons. I’m aware that most of you are already following a plant-based diet (go you!), and if that’s the case you skip to number 2 as the first food won’t apply to you. If you’ve stumbled across my website/blog and currently follow a diet that includes animal products I encourage you to read the first part of this blog with an open mind and check out my resources page for more information.
1. ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and fish should be avoided if you are looking to achieve maximum weight loss results (and health for that matter). Now this could be an entire blog post on it’s own, as I could literally sit here for hours writing about how detrimental animal products are for our health, the planet, and for the animals, but for the purposes of this post, however, I will just be focussing on why these particular foods should be avoided in terms of weight loss. I encourage you to do further research on this topic by checking out the resources section of my website where I have provided notable books, videos, documentaries and websites that provide evidence based peer reviewed research.
The first reason you should avoid animal products is due to volumetrics and calorie density. Basically the idea of calorie density is based on the fact that the stomach has stretch receptors that feed back to the brain when our stomachs are full. If you eat foods that are higher in calorie density (which means they have more calories per pound) by the time your stretch receptors alert your brain that you’re full, you have already eaten too many calories. But if you eat food that has less calories per pound (low calorie density food) you can eat as much as you want until your stomach tells you that you’re full without over consuming calories.
The problem with animal products is that they are much higher in fat than plant-based foods. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, which is more than double that of carbohydrates (which are predominantly found in plant-based foods). This makes it really easy to over consume on these foods, and the only way to lose weight on a diet that includes animal products is through calorie restriction, which is not sustainable (nor enjoyable) in the long-term.
Another reason to avoid animal products is due to their lack of fibre. Plant-based foods are high in fibre which is not absorbed into our bloodstream. This means some of the weight of plant-based foods does not directly translate into calories absorbed, which is another reason you can eat plant-based foods in abundance and still lose weight.
Finally, a lot of animal products contain hormones and/or chemicals that contribute to weight gain. Dairy products in particular are terrible for weight loss due to the hormones present in these foods. The purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65 pound calf into a 700 pound cow as rapidly as possible. It is baby calf growth fluid. It contains hormones, lipids, proteins, and growth factors like IGF-1 that are designed to turn a calf into a huge cow. It’s purpose is to increase weight and promote growth in tissues throughout the body - so it’s great stuff if you are a baby calf, but if you’re a human trying to lose weight, it’s not such a great idea. Milk also contains oestrogen’s from the mother cow. This is because with modern dairy science, the lactating cows are usually already pregnant with their next calf while they’re still giving milk! It’s no wonder why young girls these days are going through puberty before the age of 10!
As I mentioned earlier, I could go on and on and on about how detrimental animal products are for our health and for weight loss, but in order to keep this moving along I’m going to leave you with my resources page so you can do your own research and decide for yourself whether you want to continue consuming something that is not only harming yourself, but also the animals and the planet.
2. OIL AND REFINED FAT
As mentioned above, fat contains 9 calories per gram, which is more than double that of carbohydrates and protein, which both contain 4 calories per gram. Yet again, this ties in with the concept of calorie density. Foods that are higher in fat are going to contain more calories per pound, which means it is very easy to over consume.
Oil is not a whole-food. It is a low-nutrient, processed food, consisting of 100% fat. Olive oil, for example, has 120 calories in one tablespoon alone. A lot of people use oils on their salads thinking it is a ‘healthy fat’ that will aid in weight loss, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When we ingest fats in the form of extracted oils, the body rapidly absorbs them and immediately converts them into body fat. Fats from whole-foods, such as avocados, nuts and seeds are absorbed much slower and therefore more likely to be burned for energy instead of stored on the body. We are also more likely to consume less calories from these foods (for example nuts contain 40-50 calories per tablespoon compared to 120 calories of olive oil).
Basically, this is always going to come back down to consuming foods in their whole-form with the fibre in tact. I don’t have an issue with consuming healthy whole fats such as avocados, olives, and nuts and seeds, but as soon you refine these foods down into oils, there is no fibre and no volume - and you’re more likely to over consume on calories. For example, 1 tablespoon of olive oil is equivalent to the calories of eating 30 medium olives. If you wouldn’t eat 30 olives in one sitting than why would you consume a tablespoon of olive oil?
3. REFINED SUGAR
This is going to get fairly repetitive and you’re probably going to get sick of me saying this but… Foods that have been highly refined are going to be higher in calorie density, which means more calories per pound, and you are therefore more likely to consume more calories than what you actually need, and blah blah blah. You get the point right?
I do have an exception with this. I think refined sugars can be excellent for athletes when used correctly, as they are good source of quick fuel. But let’s be real here… most people who are over consuming refined sugars are not athletes… they are people doing very little exercise and mostly have sedentary lifestyles. I also don’t personally have an issue with using refined sugars as a condiment on whole-foods to give it more flavour (for example, I always add a little bit of maple syrup to my oats for breakfast). To quote Dr. McDougall (author of the Starch Solution and whole-foods plant-based diet advocate) ‘A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down’. My biggest issue is people consuming way too many high sugar junk foods, which in most cases also contain a lot of refined fat. This combination really is a disaster for health and weight loss in general. You can find more information in this blog post about vegan ketchup and sugar.
4. LIQUID CALORIES
Let’s start with an obvious culprit. Alcohol. For starters it’s empty calories and there is no benefit nutritionally from consuming it. A lot of people think that the calories in alcohol is the only issue for weight gain, but there’s also the effect of alcohol on the metabolism.
Basically there is nowhere for alcohol to be stored in our body, which means once it’s in our system our body needs to metabolise it straight away. This means our body will stop metabolising anything else (i.e. carbohydrates and fat) because using the alcohol first and eliminating it from the body becomes a priority. So if we’re using all this energy from alcohol, what happens to the energy from the food we eat? It’s more likely to be stored on the body as fat because now the body has a surplus of energy and doesn’t need to use it.
So that’s the more obvious one I wanted to talk about. Then of course there are drinks such as soda, cordial etc. which are high in refined sugar (which has already been discussed above).
The main thing I really want to talk about is juices and smoothies, because these aren’t necessarily unhealthy for us, but for some people they can be an issue for weight gain. I know personally that I don’t do well with large smoothies or juices. I tend to over consume what I actually need and they don’t satisfy me as much as when I eat my food instead of drinking it. But for some people they work fine and they’re a great way to get in a lot of nutrients.
The problem with juices and smoothies is that you don’t have to chew them, and it’s really easy to gulp them down and take in more than what you actually need. They’re also fast digesting and emptied from the stomach a lot faster, which means you’re more likely to be hungry a lot sooner than if you had eaten a meal (that is slower digesting).
5. PROCESSED FOODS
I really don’t feel like I have anything new to say here that I haven’t already mentioned above. as numbers 2-4 were all pretty much refined and processed foods. However, I would like to quickly mention refined white flour in breads and pasta. Also things like white rice and rice noodles. I eat these foods myself a few times a week and I don’t have a huge issue with them personally, but I’m also not trying to lose weight, I’m more or less just maintaining my weight. If I wanted to lose weight however, I would probably limit or avoid these foods to get quicker results as they are higher in calorie density than other whole-food options.
If you are trying to get maximum weight loss results I would swap some of these foods out for their whole-food counterparts. An example would be swapping pasta for whole meal pasta, or swapping white rice for brown or black rice. I would probably avoid bread in general and just focus more on starches and whole-grains such as brown rice and potatoes.
When I lost the majority of my weight (over 15 kilos) my main staples were pretty much oats, brown rice and potatoes, and I would maybe have pasta once or twice a week. Basically, I’ve found the more I focussed on whole plant-based foods that are lower in calorie density, the easier I would lose weight and still feel satisfied after every meal.
I hope this has helped you gain a better understanding of what foods to avoid or limit when trying to achieve maximum weight loss. I would also like to note, that avoiding these foods isn’t just better for your waistline, but also for your overall health and wellbeing. By making simple changes to your lifestyle and adopting a whole-foods plant-based diet you can become a healthier, happier and thriving individual!
If you’re struggling with weight gain or health problems, I have something free for you. As I mentioned at the start of this article, I’ve created a free PDF guide called ‘The Plant-Based Transformation Blueprint’. It’s designed to give you a kickstart on your health and weight loss journey by showing you the exact process I used to lose weight and overcome several health issues. It’s completely free to download.
If you would like 1-on-1 coaching with me please click here for more info.
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