Which diet helps? How much exercise is necessary to lose weight? How much weight loss per week is realistic? We asked two nutrition experts for their opinions on the topic of losing weight.
Yasmin Flohr: In order for weight loss to be healthy and successful in the long term, it is important to find a form of nutrition that suits your own needs and preferences and can be permanently integrated into everyday life. Short, strong restrictions usually only lead to the dreaded yo-yo effect.
It is much more important than demonizing certain energy sources, such as low-carb (low-carbohydrate) or low-fat (low-fat), to consciously deal with the topic of nutrition. Significantly reduce fast food and sweets and make sure you eat healthy and whole foods overall. That means integrating more fruit and vegetables into your diet, eating less industrially processed food and mostly cooking yourself. The participants in a study group achieved surprisingly good results with such a few specifications, which they were able to maintain over the long term.
Uwe Knop: There is no “one best” diet. In general, a diet in the classic sense (starts and ends again) is not suitable for losing weight in a healthy and, above all, sustainable manner. Losing weight quickly is also not recommended, because then the yo-yo effect will quickly kick back. Instead, the key to staying slim is: The long-term conversion to a new individual nutritional
Flohr: Instead of asking yourself how much weight you can generally lose in a week, you should rather ask yourself: How much weight loss per week really makes sense if you want to lose weight sustainably and in the long term? Severe restrictions on food choices and energy intake may lead to short-term success. However, such crash diets are usually not sustainable for long and the yo-yo effect quickly becomes noticeable.
Half a kilo weight loss per week is therefore a good benchmark if you want to lose weight in a healthy and long-term way. Losing body fat requires taking in less energy – in the form of food – than the body uses on a daily basis. In plain language this means: calorie reduction.
In order to lose a pound of body fat, you need to save 7,000 calories. Calculated over seven days, that would be 1000 calories per day. However, since most people have a total daily requirement of between 1800 and 2200 kcal, a reduction of 1000 calories would be too extreme. The result: constant hunger and exhaustion as well as a lack of motivation to stick to the diet. Therefore, it makes sense to halve the calorie deficit to a daily saving of around 500 kcal. This is far more realistic, easier to implement and leads to the weight loss of half a kilo per week mentioned at the beginning.
Knop: With a moderate negative energy balance of around minus 500 kcal per day, you can lose around 500 grams in a week. With these values, the body usually copes well with the energy restriction without switching to the drastic starvation metabolism. This shows: Sustainable weight loss takes time, patience and muse – and a good plan.
Flohr: Before choosing the type of sport that is best suited for losing weight, it should be noted that sport alone is not a miracle cure if unhealthy eating habits are not broken. When it comes to the question of which sport is the best choice for losing weight, it has to be said clearly: Any kind of exercise helps to lose weight and it is important that you find a sport that you enjoy so that you stick with it in the long term .
Endurance sport with a moderate heart rate of around 130 is ideal for burning fat. After around 30 minutes of exertion, the body gets up to 80 percent of the energy it needs from its own fat reserves and the remaining 20 percent from carbohydrates. Although more intense units burn more calories overall, the ratio of carbohydrates to fats burned also changes. This often leads to great hunger.
With moderate endurance training, in combination with strength training, you can also achieve the best results when losing weight. By building muscle mass, the basal metabolic rate increases, which means that more calories are burned overall throughout the day. The muscle mass also ensures that the body forms aesthetically.
Knop: Any type of exercise supports sustainable weight loss success. It doesn’t have to be a sport in the traditional sense. More exercise in everyday life is enough. Freestyle dancing at home or simply going for regular walks are also recommended – as are a few dumbbells to maintain and build muscle. The most important thing is that the movement has to be fun, otherwise you won’t stick with it. And you should, because otherwise it won’t help in the long term.
Yasmin Flohr is a certified nutritionist and fitness trainer. “No more crash diets” is the motto of her holistic nutritional advice Balancecode, which she offers online and on site in her practice in Frankfurt am Main. As a person affected by lipoedema, she also supports women who are also affected in finding a suitable diet.
Flohr: Sport is not absolutely necessary to lose weight. Without it, however, you need to pay more attention to your diet. The key to losing weight is simple: you must consume fewer calories than your body uses. Sport increases calorie turnover, which makes it easier for many people to get into the calorie deficit mentioned.
However, if the thought of exercise sends chills down your spine, maybe you can relate more to exercise in general? The movement in everyday life is often clearly underestimated: Just do the next supermarket purchase on foot, take the stairs instead of the elevator or consciously park your car a few blocks away. Without much effort, a few more calories are burned, almost unnoticed – which in turn helps you lose weight.
Button: Yes, that’s possible. The following creed of successful weight loss applies: Nutrition is the duty, sport is the freestyle. This means that the big screw of losing weight is turned through the food, exercise and relaxation are the flanking cornerstones of this success. Whether with or without sport, the basic rule is: the moderate negative energy balance of about minus 500 kcal/day is elementary.
Flohr: Perhaps you know the sentence: “Your face has gotten thin!”. The reason for this is simple. In general, there is less fat on the face than on the stomach or legs, for example. A loss of fat on the face is therefore particularly noticeable. You probably won’t notice the difference as quickly as you see yourself in the mirror every day. Therefore, it can be helpful to take photos regularly. Even if you may initially be reluctant to photograph the unloved initial situation, it can be very helpful later on to compare the initial image with the new actual situation. Only in direct comparison do you often see what you have already achieved.
Therefore, you should not focus too much on the number on the scale. Because your body is exposed to many factors that can cause your weight to fluctuate in the short term. A rise on the scale can quickly become demotivating if you don’t know how to correctly interpret the weight.
Knop: It varies from person to person and depends on personal fat distribution and type, biology, physique and metabolism as well as genetic material, i.e. genetic predisposition. Therefore, there is no standard statement on this. So let yourself be surprised – you will see it first when you look closely and naked in the mirror. Nude photo series are also helpful here, for example taking a picture in the same position every 3-4 weeks and comparing it. In this way you can see, document and enjoy the development of your weight loss success in order to celebrate milestones – and that is very important and motivating: Celebrate yourself again and again for what you have achieved as an important intermediate step that is worth seeing!
Flohr: Unfortunately, the desire to get rid of specific problem areas on the body is an illusion. Basically, the organism takes its reserves evenly from all parts of the body when burning fat.
The particularly bad news for targeted weight loss on the stomach: the body keeps the unloved fat in the stomach area for a very long time, even on a diet. The reason for this is that abdominal fat in particular represents a kind of emergency nail for the body. Due to evolution, the body wants to protect itself from starvation – belly fat is the last trump card for this. That’s why even slim people often complain about the last little roll of fat on their stomach.
But that doesn’t mean that you should give up immediately, discouraged. On the contrary: Too much fat in the abdominal area and especially too much visceral fat can quickly have health consequences.
Knop: No, that’s not possible. Where a person loses weight is always determined individually and is controlled by many independent factors.
Uwe Knop was born in 1972. He is a graduate ecotrophologist, author of several nutrition books and PR consultant in the field of medicine.
What foods can I lose weight with?
Flohr: Is there actually one food that significantly supports weight loss – a miracle cure, so to speak? The clear answer is: no. Focusing on foods that are as unprocessed as possible is far more important than looking for the ultimate food.
Unfortunately, the industrial processing processes ensure that valuable dietary fiber, vitamins or minerals are lost and lots of sugar, salt or other artificial additives find their way into our food. That doesn’t mean you should only eat raw veggies! Rather, you should consciously deal with the topic of food again, ideally buy regionally and prepare your own food – then you will know for sure what will end up on your plate later.
Try it: By avoiding ready-made products, you automatically save a lot of sugar. This in turn has a positive effect on your customer success. This is not to say that every finished product is necessarily bad. A look at the list of ingredients can quickly provide clarity. The more chemistry on it, the more likely you should leave the product on the shelf.
Knop: Preferably with those that you like, that you like to eat and above all: with foods that you can tolerate very well. The individual good tolerance, i.e. a healthy digestion, is the A
Flohr: Healthy carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet and therefore do not have to be banned from the menu if you want to lose weight. Carbohydrates have unfortunately fallen into disrepute due to low-carb diets and are labeled as fattening foods.
However, only the so-called empty carbohydrates, which are typically found in white flour products (white bread, biscuits, cakes), are problematic. Only the inner core of the grain, i.e. the pure starch, is used for the white flour, since the outer, nutrient-rich parts of the grain were removed in the grinding process. As a result, the body has to use less energy to break down these pre-processed carbohydrates, which means that the sugar molecules quickly enter the bloodstream.
Therefore, pay attention to the whole grain variant, made from oats, buckwheat, amaranth or spelt, for example. The whole grain of the grain varieties brings not only plenty of fiber but also many micronutrients. If you occasionally buy your bread pre-packaged from the supermarket instead of the local baker, it’s worth checking the list of ingredients. Unfortunately, brown cane sugar or malt extract is often added to darken the bread to make it look like whole grain. However, sugar has no place in bread!
Knop: There is no special bread that is particularly good for losing weight. It is important that the bread tastes good and is well tolerated. So if, for example, coarse wholemeal bread leads to the bad 3Bs – bloated stomach, flatulence and stomach rumbling – you should eat less fiber-rich wholemeal baked goods. It is definitely not the bread that is relevant to success, but the moderate negative energy balance of around minus 500 kcal/day.
Flohr: The credo for long-term weight loss success is: Find a diet that you can integrate into your everyday life in the long term. Banning certain foods, such as bread or pasta, from your diet will not be feasible in the long term. Instead, make sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables at all meals, and pair complex carbohydrates like whole grains or potatoes with filling protein sources like fish, lean meat or dairy, eggs, legumes, or beans.
In addition, it makes sense to treat yourself to your favorite (unhealthy) foods or sweets in moderation. A radical renunciation usually only leads to a much greater desire. So better: Enjoy one or two pieces of chocolate consciously and slowly instead of munching the whole bar while watching an exciting film.
It is also helpful to consciously reprogram existing habits and routines that have crept in over the years. This requires some work and patience – but it’s worth it!
Knop: Only if you choose the individual path for a long-term change in diet and life (not “diet”) that best suits your own personality as well as your own metabolism and with which you can ideally get along very well forever, i.e. for life , who has the best chance of persevering – in order to achieve the goal of all goals: to maintain his new, slimmer desired weight in the long term.
Flohr: The keto diet keeps carbs to a minimum, maximizes healthy fat sources, and keeps protein consumption moderate. Put simply, it is an increase in the “low carb” diet. The ultimate goal here is the so-called ketosis. This is a metabolic state in which energy is obtained from the body’s own fat instead of using glucose from carbohydrates for energy. The fatty acids are converted to ketone bodies in the liver, which serve as substitute glucose and provide the body with energy.
However, in order to bring the body into this state, the carbohydrate intake must not account for more than 10 to 20 percent of the total energy. That means in plain language: almost no fruit, few vegetables, hardly any dairy products (because of the lactose), no legumes or grain products. Instead, you should mainly eat seeds, good oils, nuts and avocados. A piece of cake, pizza or a slice of bread is out of the question with this diet. Sounds difficult to implement? It is!
Can you lose weight on the keto diet? Yes you can if you persevere. Studies also show that the diet can also have a positive effect on diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, diabetes or lipoedema. Researchers also suspect that the ketone bodies can block cancer cells. However, anyone with bile problems, heart disease or elevated blood lipid levels should be careful and consult a doctor first. Since fatigue, lack of concentration, headaches and digestive problems can also occur at the beginning and the consequent restriction of food can be very stressful, for most people a change in diet with a healthy, wholesome diet is the better alternative to losing weight.
Knop: No carbohydrates are allowed on the keto diet, which means our main sources of energy such as bread, cereals, pasta, rice and potatoes are prohibited and banned in all forms. In principle, weight can be lost with this strict elimination diet – but only if the universal weight loss principle, which always applies biologically, is also achieved here: the negative energy balance, i.e. taking in fewer calories than the body needs, then it must inevitably tap into its reserves. Whether and how you personally cope with not eating any carbohydrates at all is another matter.
Knop: A clear no. Science has provided and confirmed clear findings here: low-carb is not superior to any other reduced-calorie diet for losing weight. For those who like few carbohydrates in their diet, low-carb is one of the many paths that can be taken. If you don’t like that, you can simply choose another path that suits your body better.
Knop: As with low-carb, the same applies here: a clear no. Numerous studies have shown that the method with specified, calorie-free time windows was not superior to any other equivalent calorie-reduced diet for losing weight. Therefore, the motto is: If you like to work with fixed time windows, intermittent fasting can be a good fit. If that doesn’t appeal to you, it’s better to look for another form of dietary change that suits your own personality more perfectly and in the long term.
Knop: No, these are just fictitious stories. There is no scientific evidence for the “super effect” of losing weight with the “sirtfood diet” – just as little as for the claimed health effects of the “sirtuins”, all of which are nothing more than modern nutritional fairy tales for sales promotion.