We're all looking for a quick fix or the 'magic bullet' when it comes to weight loss, whether it be superfoods, supplements or fad diets.
Healthy (and sustainable) weight loss, however, requires a different approach and frame of mind.
"One food alone cannot be blamed or pinpointed as 'the food to lose weight', nor can we blame a single nutrient (for example, carbs, fat or sugar) as a cause of weight loss," Alexandra Parker, accredited practising dietitian of The Biting Truth, told HuffPost Australia.
"When it comes to effective, long-term weight loss, it is essential that we look at our diets and lifestyles as a whole."
While cutting out food groups is tempting (as it will inevitably result in short-term weight loss), it's likely we'll regain that weight once we resume regular eating patterns.
"A huge problem with cutting out a particular food from your diet is that the day you allow yourself to bring it back in, you will splurge in a way that may not be healthy," Anna Debenham, accredited practising dietitian of The Biting Truth, told HuffPost Australia.
"Additionally, if you focus on one particular food to lose weight, you are likely to miss out on receiving the variety of nutrients your body requires to achieve optimal health."
What's the best way to lose weight?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a 'quick-fix' when it comes to weight loss. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight you need to commit and be in it for the long haul.
"Successful weight loss and weight management comes down to a life-long commitment to a healthy lifestyle, which combines eating healthy foods and keeping physically active," Parker said.
"Enjoy foods from all five food groups and ensure your diet is comprised of mostly plant-based foods for a sustainable approach to weight loss."
As Debenham explained, slow and steady weight loss is key.
"A long-term approach is required to lower body-fat levels, while maintaining lean muscle and the ability to exercise effectively," she said.
"Body-fat stores are reduced when your energy expenditure is greater than your energy intake, so this is the aim for effective and healthy weight loss."
To help lose weight, Parker also recommends eating mindfully -- that is, eating without distractions like the TV or emails, and savouring each mouthful.
"By eating without distractions you are more likely to tune into your hunger cues and respond appropriately," Parker said.
"Eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful as this will help you to recognise when you are full."
Which foods help with weight loss?
While there's no 'one' food which help with weight loss, eating a variety of healthy foods which contain macronutrients and micronutrients will help with losing weight.
The best foods for weight loss:
- Vegetables (especially low-starch vegetables)
- Whole grains (such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, oats)
- Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado)
- Lean protein (chicken, fish, legumes, tofu, egg)
These foods help to fill us up, keeping us satiated for longer and less likely to reach for unhealthy foods later in the day.
"To ensure you have enough nutrients in your day and to maintain a healthy weight, base your lunch and dinner around the healthy plate model," Parker said.
The healthy plate model:
- Fill half your plate with vegetables (carrot, tomato, capsicum, zucchini, lettuce);
- A quarter of your plate with whole grain carbohydrates (potato, sweet potato, brown rice quinoa, pasta, bread);
- A quarter of your plate with lean protein (meat, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs, tofu).
And don't forget about exercise.
"Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week," Debenham said.
Which foods hinder weight loss?
Some foods should be eaten occasionally rather than every day. These include sweet treats and many takeaway foods (especially those that are deep fried).
"Foods that are high in kilojoules (energy) and low in nutrients, such as takeaway foods and sweet treats like cakes and biscuits, do not help with weight loss," Parker said.
"These foods are considered 'sometimes' foods and should therefore be enjoyed occasionally, in small amounts, to ensure weight loss goals or weight maintenance can be achieved.
"Alcohol is a big one to keep an eye out for as it is a huge contributor to weight gain."
Foods that do not help with weight loss:
- Chocolate bars
- Crisps, chips
- Lollies, candy
- Cookies, biscuits