When it comes to losing weight, small wins will take you far

Consuming lots of fluids is one of the cornerstones of a healthy diet. — Photos: dpa

HOW MANY calories a person needs daily, called the basal metabolic rate, depends on many factors, like gender, age and occupation, even body size.

If you work in an office and spend much of your time sitting down, you will be burning fewer calories than a waitress working in a restaurant.

Antje Gahl of the German Nutrition Society (DGE) says if a person has a basic metabolic rate of about 2,000 calories, for example, and is someone working mainly at a desk - meaning her level of physical exertion is pretty low -, in all, she requires around 2,800 calories per day.

”For women, the average basal metabolic rate is around 1,900 calories per day, for men it is around 2,300 calories,” says Gahl.

This calculation does not include other factors such as age, weight or metabolism - or activities beyond work. If you ride your bike to the office, you are naturally burning more calories than if you travel by car or public transport. If you take care of children, that also burns a lot of calories.

Men generally burn more calories than women as they have slightly more muscle mass and also have different hormones. “Women have significantly more oestrogen than men, men have significantly more testosterone than women,” says German weight loss coach Jan-Magnus Bahmann.

Those hormones ensure men basically have more muscle and less fat. The female body, on the other hand, has more fat and less muscle in comparison.

You can use a calorie calculator to determine your personal energy requirements.

If you are looking to lose weight, consume more vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and water.If you are looking to lose weight, consume more vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and water.

What could a daily food plan for weight loss look like?

A varied diet, preferably consisting of plant-based foods, is healthy. “Bear in mind that it always depends on whether you consume protein, whether you eat fat or carbohydrates,” says Bahmann.

The expert recommends that your plate does not contain 70% pasta but 70% vegetables instead, for example.

After all, 100g of pasta contains around 360 calories, while 100g of broccoli only has about 30 calories. “So you can eat significantly larger amounts of vegetables. And that makes you feel fuller.”

If you want to lose 2 to 4kg, during the following sample weight loss day you consume about 1,375 calories (kcal) in total.

Breakfast: Herb omelette

Mid-morning snack: grissini made from emmer flour

Good to know: Emmer wheat is a type of grain that is as old as millet - both are known as ancient grains. It is relatively low-yielding so was not popular in Europe for a long time. It tastes nutty and has a semolina-like consistency. Compared to the wheat we are familiar with, it is much easier to digest so is now enjoying a new popularity.

Lunch: Rice casserole with pumpkin

Afternoon snack: Fruit or veggie crudités

Dinner: Kimchi sandwich

Drinks: Water (you could add a slice of lemon or orange), coffee without milk and sugar, unsweetened teas, highly diluted juice spritzers (1 part juice to 4-5 parts water).

How do I keep up with the weight loss programme?

”Change starts in the mind,” says Wechsler. Believe in yourself.

That means trusting that you will reach your goal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve started and stopped diets in the past. A lot of people do, says Bahmann. “The point now is to gain new beliefs for yourself and have a positive experience.”

Bear these seven tips in mind to help you persevere:

1. Be happy that you’ve taken the new path.

2. Incorporate the healthy approaches into your daily life.

3. Keep a photo diary and take pictures of everything you eat each day, before and during the weight loss phase to be aware of how you are eating.

4. Think about which foods you want to and are able to do without permanently.

5. Allow yourself exceptions, such as a piece of cake on the weekend or a glass of wine.

6. Be happy about small steps as these are progress. Measure your waist circumference from time to time but avoid stepping on the scales too often.

7. Involve the people around you and encourage your loved ones to support you in this plan.

Try to avoid these five mistakes:

1. Don’t think of the diet change as a sacrifice.

2. Stay away from unhealthy diets.

3. Avoid convenience foods.

4. If possible, don’t spread the word about your plan to people you don’t trust and if you are making changes, keep them fairly inconspicuous.

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

How do I maintain my weight after shedding some kilos?

”Any habit you’ve integrated to lose fat, you should keep for life,” says Bahmann. Ideally, hold onto those changes you made, and your healthy diet as far as you can.

Tip: Get an overview of newfound favourite dishes and foods and make them a fixed part of your diet plan.

Another important aspect is to protect yourself from temptations.

Before you head out on vacation or to a restaurant, consider the things that might distract you from your path during that time, and figure out ways to deal with these.

For example, if you are taking a holiday, don’t pick a hotel with a huge buffet that will tempt you to keep going back and filling your plate time after time.

Try a vacation rental and treat yourself to home-cooked meals. If you go to a restaurant for dinner, choose an espresso instead of a sweet dessert.

Bear in mind that a healthy diet combined with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day will help you permanently regulate your weight, says the German Nutrition Society, which suggests these 10 guidelines:

1. Enjoy a variety of foods.

2. Eat fruit and vegetables five times a day.

3. Choose whole grains.

4. Add other foods beyond animal foods.

5. Eat healthier fats.

6. Cut back on your sugar and salt consumption.

7. Drinking water is best.

8. Take a careful approach to preparing your food.

9. Eat mindfully and enjoy your meals.

10. Watch your weight and keep moving. – dpa

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