You can eat “healthy” and still not lose (or even gain) weight. Folks who start a diet by trying to switch to “healthy” foods but who don’t actually create a caloric deficit will be frustrated. It seems they’re doing it right. They might be eating more fruits and veggies, getting in whole grains and lean proteins, minimizing the amount of fast food and sugary drinks. Here’s the problem: losing weight is a matter of energy balance. Period. If you before the diet you ate around 2,000 calories a day and your weight stayed the same (what we might call “maintenance calories”)- then switching to all “clean” or “healthy” foods at the same level-2,000 calories- won’t result in weight loss.
Here’s what you can do:
- Watch for “healthy” foods that also are high in calories- avocado (or guacamole), nuts, cheeses, etc..This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat these foods, but understand that you probably shouldn’t eat as much as you’d like
- Track your bodyweight 2-3 times per week. Keep track of the number, and look for a downward trend. If the weight isn’t trending downward after a couple of weeks, make another small change to your diet and keep going
- Redefine “healthy” eating. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. The more you restrict yourself the harder it’ll likely be to sustain. Don’t label foods as clean or dirty, healthy or unhealthy. Having a slice of pizza won’t kill you every now and then. And eating all “healthy” foods while not losing any weight won’t improve your risk factors (yes, high BMI and high waist measurements are risk factors for certain diseases).
- Don’t let the weekend undo your hard work. It’s possible to eat “clean” during the week and binge on the weekends, thinking you’ve “earned it.” It’s possible to not see weight loss purely from those 2 days of bingeing.
Note: This doesn’t mean that switching to more wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats will cause you to gain weight or stay the same. It’s certainly possible that this approach in itself will lead to weight loss because it removes the highly palatable, calorie dense, low nutrient foods. The takeaway is to not automatically assume that because you eat “healthy” you’re guaranteed to lose weight