The Stages of Weight Loss
There are many phases that you need to go through when it comes to weight loss but broadly speaking, we can divide them into three phases: Preparation, Weight Loss/Progress, Maintenance of results.
The Preparation Phase
Preparation begins before the weight loss stage, as you must be mentally ready to head into a diet. The preparation phase of change comes after the ‘pre-contemplation’ and ‘contemplation’ phases in the Transtheoretical Model of Change (1). This means that someone has become aware of behaviours that need changing to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and is now ready to make changes.
For example, where someone has discussed their health with their doctor and been advised to consider losing weight to improve their health status.
During this preparation phase, you will set your goals,a start date, and an expected trajectory or timeline for the goals.
Having a general goal like ‘weight loss’ isn’t specific enough. We recommend setting SMART goals, where you follow a goal-setting framework to outline exactly what you want to achieve, how you’ll measure it, whether it’s realistic and the time frame. For more on setting smart goals, see this previous blog: https://tonyferguson.com/blogs/dietitians-corner/how-to-set-realistic-goals-when-it-comes-to-your-weight-loss-plans
It’s beneficial at this stage to set up your environment for success, which means clearing out your fridge and pantry, buying plenty of vegetables and fruit, and making sure you have your Tony Ferguson meal replacement shakes ready if you’re following the Tony Ferguson program.
Setting up your environment for dietary success is crucial; when you’re tired, and don’t feel like following your diet- your prior organisation will keep you on track.
Helpful factors include having more fruit and vegetables available, easy healthy food placement, not eating in front of the TV, and having less salty and sweet snacks in the house (2).
The Weight Loss & Progress Phase
The progress phase is when you follow your dietary plan and start to see the weight loss results you’re after.
If you eat in a calorie deficit consistently (eating less calories than your body needs), then your body starts to burn fat for fuel. This should be done carefully and controlled instead of restricting food too much.
There are many ways to achieve a calorie deficit and popular methods include: meal replacement shakes such as the Tony Ferguson products, reducing portion sizes, and choosing foods that are lower in calories or a combination of all three.
You do not have to cut any foods out of your diet, however, it will likely be easier for you to lose weight if you reduce your consumption of hyper-palatable foods. These are foods that are engineered to be high in fat and sugar, high in calories, very easy to overeat and can cause fat gain if eaten execessively. For example, bakery goods, pastries, takeaway food, processed snack foods and bars, chocolate and other typical treat foods.
To support your diet, a higher protein intake can be beneficial as it is a highly satiating (filling) nutrient that can help curb appetite, as well as help to retain muscle mass when you’re losing weight. High protein foods include high protein shakes, lean meats, vegetarian proteins such as tofu and tempeh, seafood and low-fat dairy.
After your diet, you have the maintenance phase. Recalculate how many calories you burn at your new body weight and eat that many calories. You shouldn’t be continuing to diet forever.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your diet is over, and you can eat anything and everything all at once; when you lose weight, you burn fewer calories than at a heavier weight.
This is true for everyone that’s lost weight because you are simply lighter, you have less body tissue and it’s not as energetically expensive to keep you alive.
Don’t worry., This isn’t because your metabolism has slowed down. It’s still the same metabolism when you compare calories burnt in relation to kilos of body weight, however, there is simply just less of you! This means slightly less calories burnt overall.
This may be the difference of just 100 or a few hundred calories (depending on how much weight you’ve lost), but it’s important to keep in mind as you continue post diet. It will be helpful for you to continue following a healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and lean protein to maintain your results.