By Martin Hamer, Health and Fitness Tutor at The Training Room
Before you start reading this article, I want to set you a little task; just type the following into a Google search, ‘superfoods for weight management.’ I’ll wait a second… This search generates an astonishing number of results.
I think the last time I did this, it read 38,000,000 results found. So, your first question should be, where do I start?
Hopefully, this article will be the ideal place for you to start to first understand the conversation around weight management. But what is meant by the term superfood? Before we dig into the main detail of this article, we need to give the heading a little more context.
When talking about weight management, the primary conversation is around weight loss and then trying to maintain this new weight. To understand this, let us have a quick look at what we mean by energy balance. The general rules around this are that if an individual consumes more calories than they expend then they will gain weight. If someone consumes fewer calories than they expend they will lose weight. Finally, if someone consumes the same calories they expend, they will maintain weight. This is a very simple explanation of the first
law of thermodynamics. This being that energy cannot be created or destroyed,
Within this article, we will be talking about if there are any superfoods that can help
someone eat fewer calories, which in turn will assist them in losing weight. When talking about nutrition we always need to give the conversation some context.
Do Superfoods help create a calorie deficit?
What the title of this section should read is; are there any foods that are superior to others in creating a calorie deficit? A calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you are expending) is both necessary and sufficient for weight loss; meaning that if someone is wanting to lose weight, firstly it is a must to create a calorie deficit and, secondly, it should be the primary goal for that individual.
Once the individual is aware they need to create a deficit, they then might ask themselves if there are any foods out there that are superior to others in creating that deficit.
When typing in the heading of this article, the first result I clicked on was from this
website : www.ndtv.com/ Here the heading states “The top 10 superfoods for weight loss that you must include in your diet.”
I will not go into what is wrong with this heading, as that is for another article, however, they include foods such as apples, blueberries, green tea, and more. What I want to do below is highlight three superior foods, food groups or supplements that have been extensively researched to assist with weight loss and weight management.
As I am sure many of you are aware, protein is one of our Macronutrients and has
numerous benefits to us regarding weight management, body composition and
weight loss. A study published by the American Society of Nutrition (2008) concluded that “Body weight management is a complex task involving the interplay of behavioural
components with hormonal, genetic, and metabolic processes. “Protein has the potential to play a key role in several aspects of body weight regulation. The mechanisms by which increased dietary protein regulate body weight are multifactorial”.
By increasing the amount of protein in one’s daily diet, roughly 1.5g/per kg BW, we can unlock the benefits protein consumption has on weight management, body composition and weight loss.
Caffeine and Green Tea
Caffeine and green tea are often proposed as strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance. These ingredients may increase energy expenditure and have been proposed to
counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that is present during weight loss. Positive effects on body-weight management have been shown using green tea mixtures. In short, these ingredients will help increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system that can increase the likelihood of lipolysis (fat burning) to occur.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is classified as being foodstuffs that remain undigested as they enter the large intestine. Fibre is usually found in plants and should be referred to as Non-starch Polysaccharides (NSP).
There are two main groups of fibre – insoluble and soluble – and both kinds are needed for good health. Some of the key benefits of fibre are:
● It helps keep the digestive system in good working order.
● It helps prevent bowel problems such as constipation and diverticular disease.
● It slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, thus producing a slower rise in blood sugar levels. This results in making us feel less hungry.
● High fibre foods are good sources of vitamins and minerals.
● High fibre foods are filling, not fattening.
When consuming the recommended amounts of fibre (24g daily) we can achieve most of the above benefits. The key one being increased feelings of fullness to achieve weight management.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been bandied around as a superfood for some time now. This is because it contains polyphenols (compounds that are rich in antioxidants, which have been associated with benefits such as reduced blood pressure through increasing vasodilation of the blood vessels). However, a new systematic review published in the European Journal of Nutrition aimed to find out if apple cider vinegar was a superfood or a super fraud. Scientists
looked at 487 papers on the topic but found just 13 human studies. Their conclusion: “Due to inadequate research of high quality, the evidence for the health effects of apple vinegar is insufficient.” That is pretty much science talk for “meh.”
Weight management is a huge concern for many people within the population and I believe articles such as “10 superfoods you MUST include in your diet” basically confuse people and do not consider individual detail and an individual’s likes/dislikes. Above are some of the key foods/food groups that have huge amounts of research behind them to not only improve your health but help you maintain your weight. Focus on the following key nutrition principles and the rest will take care of itself:
● Include a palm-sized portion of protein in each of your meals.
● Base majority of your meals around whole, one-ingredient foods.
● Consume a suitable amount of water throughout the day (30ml per kg BW)
● Eat the rainbow (plenty of fruit and veg)
This information is not ground-breaking or sexy, but these are the main nutrition principles to consider when focusing on weight loss and weight management.
To find out more about Training Room’s Level 4 Certificate in Nutrition for Weight
Management and Athletic Performance, visit The Training Room.