Five weight loss steps for beginners

February 4, 2024 | 03:00 pm PT
I want to lose weight for Tet Lunar New Year but have never done it before. Is there an easy way for beginners to start losing weight? (Thuy, 29, Hanoi)


As a beginner, you can try five below steps to lose weight:

Step 1: Eat in order

Drink a small glass of water before your meal to completely eliminate hunger. Start your meal with a bowl of vegetable soup to partly fill up your stomach. Consume protein dishes afterwards, and then conclude your meal with a smaller portion of carbohydrates.

This eating order helps you to better control your calorie intake.

Step 2: Increase your vegetables and protein intake for each meal

Eating too few vegetables and protein food sources may lead to an imbalanced meal. Consuming these nutrition groups also keeps you full for a longer time, which can prevent quick hunger and cravings, some of the things that make it hard to lose weight.

A standard main meal should keep you full for four to six hours. To achieve this, people weighing between 50 and 70 kg should consume at least 20 to 25 grams of protein and two servings of vegetables per meal. This is equivalent to a bowl of steamed greens or two hand-size plates of salads.

You should always have a plate of vegetables and a bowl of soup on the table, along with readily available sources of protein like eggs, seaweed, lean chicken floss, or mushroom floss to increase your protein intake in each meal.

A woman in sportswear holding an apple and a tape measure. Illustration photo by Freepik

A woman in sportswear holding an apple and a tape measure. Illustration photo by Freepik

Step 3: Replace refined with whole grains carbohydrates, chew thoroughly, and extend your mealtime to at least 25 minutes

Starch is one of the essential macronutrients that need to be consumed daily, accounting for 30% to 60% of vital energy. Therefore, replacing refined starches (those without bran or husk) with whole grains (those with bran and husk) is a top priority in the journey towards a healthy diet. The simplest way is to substitute white rice with brown rice, or other options like quinoa, oats, barley, or incorporate various legumes while cooking for diversity and to avoid monotony.

Chewing your food thoroughly and extending your mealtime to at least 25 minutes is essential. Chewing thoroughly helps reduce mindless eating and drinking, while also helping you stay full longer. 25 minutes is the time it takes for your brain to receive signals of fullness from your stomach, so maintaining a meal lasting for this period helps you feel satisfied for a longer period.

Step 4: Exercise before consuming less healthy dishes

If you plan to eat dishes that are high in oil or fried, it is a good idea to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise before your meal. Oils are high in fat content (9 kcal/g of fat), making it easy for the body to store excess energy and not create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.

In general, if you exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes every day, you can enjoy foods with higher fat content. Otherwise, it is better to stick to steamed or boiled dishes.

Step 5: Use healthier seasonings in your meals

You should limit the use of industrial seasonings as well as highly processed ingredients like bouillon cubes, MSG, refined salt, and refined sugar. Instead, it is more beneficial to use natural flavorings like dried shrimp, bone broth, boiled meat broth, turnips, carrots, seaweed, and healthy seasonings such as herbs and vegetable sauces.

This may be challenging because your taste buds have become accustomed to industrial seasonings, but it is crucial for gut health and overall well-being.

Dr. Phan Thai Tan

Fitness center HomeFit’s nutrition coach

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