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Trying To Lose Weight?

The one thing you may want to stop doing now.

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Tape measure on bathroom scale
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Growing up, Gen X women were told to pay attention to calories if they wanted to lose weight. I specifically remember reading over and over that if you wanted to lose about 1 pound a week, you shouldn’t eat more than 1,200 calories a day.

As a 48-year-old woman who has tried all the diets, I’m here to tell you it worked. When I was a teenager, I wanted to lose 10 pounds, so I followed that plan: I ate only 1,200 calories a day and lost about 1 pound a week — sometimes 2.

However, here’s what else happened: I was starving, weak and irritable. I had no energy and would fall asleep in class. I began obsessing over everything I ate. My hair started falling out, my periods stopped, and my skin had a grayish tint to it.

Not everyone develops disordered eating when they count calories. But in my opinion, most of us can’t and won’t sustain eating just a certain number of calories a day.

After I recovered from counting calories and obsessing about my weight (which included throwing away my scale and eating nutritious foods when I was hungry), I vowed that would be the end of calculating every calorie I consumed. I was so much happier when I let my body, instead of a calculator, decide how I fueled myself.

The good news is you don’t have to count calories to lose weight, and if you ask me, you shouldn’t. Like I said, any kind of diet or method of losing weight should really be something you can sustain. Otherwise, many of us end up beating ourselves up if we get off track.

It wasn’t until after I’d had kids and started eating more fats and proteins that I got rid of those 10 pounds that kept creeping up on me, and they stayed off. Instead of being hungry, I am satisfied. Instead of being tired, I have more energy than I did in my 20s. Instead of going to a social gathering and feeling like I’m missing out, I allow myself to eat.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, coauthor of the The One One One Diet, has more than 20 years of experience as a health and wellness coach. She says that while cutting carbs and counting calories may seem like the most popular and talked-about method for weight loss, women need to do something different because this approach is too restrictive and isn’t usually sustainable.

Batayneh recommends an alternative. “Building your meals including all three macros — protein, carbohydrate and fat — is the key to consistent weight loss.” In other words, look at your plate and make sure you have one carb, one fat and one protein for every meal. Of course, have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies when you like.

Batayneh says, “Fats satiate the brain and body and can also help keep you feeling satisfied after mealtime. Protein is the key to keeping your blood sugar stable, and carbs, even in smaller portions, can elevate your mood and energy.”

So, don’t shy away from meat, nuts, nut butter, avocados and fish, with small portions of grains. These are the foods that are going to keep you satisfied and feeling nourished. For reference, whenever I’d try to cut back on fats and proteins, I’d end up eating too many sugars and carbs (like so many other people), and I still didn’t feel full, so I’d eat more. It was a vicious cycle, and I was always irritable.

Batayneh adds, “Cutting or counting carbs and calories is not sustainable. In fact, it can lead to a feeling of deprivation. Not to mention, it’s time-consuming. This can lead to a poor relationship with food, and this is one of the main reasons women go on and off diets."

Counting calories and eating foods low in fat will most likely result in a diet that’s too low in protein. Fats and proteins are essential in our diet, especially as we age and our hormones and muscle mass change. I now get plenty of fats and proteins, and while I don’t count calories every day, I did once, just for fun, to see how many I was getting. I laughed when I saw I was eating over 2,400 calories a day, consuming about 40 to 50 grams of fat and getting around 120 grams of protein a day. I’m the same size (and in better shape) than I was during those 1,200-calorie days.

For me, adding in more fats and proteins was a game changer, and I’ll never go back to following any kind of diet or restricting myself. I feel fantastic, and now I don’t ever worry about what I’m putting into my mouth, because eating this way has become such a habit and I know it works. For me.

Do you agree with the above? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health