More than one-third – 34.9 percent or 78.6 million – of adults in the country are obese, according to the Journal of American Medicine, and there is no indication of the trend changing. Obesity is a chronic disease and a complex disorder characterized by having too much body fat.
The long-held 80:20 ratio suggests that for successful weight loss, 80 percent of the results are based on what you eat and 20 percent from your physical activity, Lisa Mikus, RD, CNSC, CDN, says. “Our bodies are so dynamic and perform such complicated metabolic processes that it’s hard to reduce such a highly argued topic like weight loss down to a simple ratio,” she adds. “Yet, I do believe that nutrition is more crucial to weight loss than physical activity, especially initially, but physical activity can supplement a foundation of healthy eating with the goal of healthy weight loss.
Mikus doesn’t necessarily recommend this ratio to her clients who are trying to shed a few pounds. “I initially help clients solidify a foundation of healthy eating at their level or readiness, then supplement this with physical activity or movement that clients are willing to do and capable of doing consistently.”
For example, building muscle during strength training will help you reach a healthy body composition. However, if you are jogging a few miles every other day, but eating mainly highly caloric foods, you probably won’t achieve your weight loss goals.
The biggest challenges people face when it comes to cleaning up their diets is usually making time for themselves and being consistent, Mikus says. “In our busy culture, it’s hard to carve time out of our mornings and nights to meal prep or plan meals for the week as well as be physically active.”
Aim for meals including all three macronutrients – whole grain carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins. “Mixed meals are important to incorporate since the combination […] during digestion slows the rate of gastric emptying, keeping us satiated for longer, and decreases the rate of absorption of glucose from the carbohydrate thus helping to avoid a sugar spike,” MIkus says.
Learn to read nutrition labels. A few things to keep in mind, according to Mikus, are: Pay attention to the serving size versus the portion that you serve yourself; make sure there’s no trans-fat and that saturated fat is on the lower end as well; keep sodium at bay; don’t get too bogged down with numbers and percentages – it’s more important to get a sense of how nutrient-rich or nutrient-dense the food you are eating is.