Weight Loss

Although weight loss is a result of consuming less energy from foods and drinks than your body uses for vital functions and physical activities, it may not be as simple as it seems. Many factors can affect both satiety and the body’s energy expenditure, making it difficult to find the perfect balance.

What factors can affect satiety?

Satiety is a complex process that involves hormones, psychological factors, gastric stretching, food and meal composition, and the volume of foods consumed. The dietary factors that influence satiety are mostly linked to the rate at which food leaves the stomach, and slowing down this rate is an effective way to help stay full longer.

Some nutrients are digested faster than others, emptying the stomach more rapidly. For instance, fats and proteins take longer to be digested than carbohydrates, and high-fiber carbohydrates (such as wholegrain bread) will require a higher digestion time than low-fiber carbohydrates (such as white bread).

The volume of food consumed is also a key point, as a higher volume of food will fill up the stomach and send a message to the brain to signal satiety. Foods rich in dietary fiber and water (such as fruits and vegetables) can provide low amounts of energy in a high volume of food, which helps you feel satiated without exceeding your energy requirements.

What factors can affect the body’s energy expenditure?

The amount of energy used in vital functions (such as breathing, brain function, heart beating), as well as how many kilojoules will be “burnt” during physical activities can vary a lot depending on gender, age, stage of life, body weight, body composition, and the presence of infections and other diseases.

Since we cannot change aspects such as gender, age, or stage of life, increasing the energy used to perform physical activities is the best way of raising the body’s energy expenditure, hence exercising is a wonderful tool to help fight excess body weight and improve body composition.

What’s the dietary treatment for weight loss?

Overall, dietary changes to promote weight loss should focus on reducing energy-dense foods, mainly high-sugar and high-fat foods, and alcohol, because they contain too many kilojoules in small amounts, which means that you’d have to eat a high volume of them to feel satiated, while including more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean sources of protein.

If you’re considering a change in diet to aid in weight loss, it’s important to consult your doctor who can then refer you to an Accredited Practising Dietitian. A dietitian will help you identify the main areas of your diet that should be focused on, and find the best approach for you to make sustainable modifications, according to your preferences, goals, and individual needs.

Pro Nutrition SA
Carol Sartori, Dietitian

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