How to lose weight – and eat well (and maybe influence people)


Picture of vegan hamburger stolen from Minimalist Baker
What's a healthy weight?
Before you start … you should know what your ideal weight should be.
You can calculate your ideal weight and body mass index (BMI) based on your body weight and body height.

Cal
culate your BMI: your weight in kg / (your height in metres)2 
A healthy BMI lies somewhere between 18,5 and 24,9. If you are of East Asian decent an ideal BMI should probably not be higher than 24. You should not weigh any less than this: 
18,5 * your height in metres * your height in metres = … 

You should not weight any more than this: 24,9 * your height in metres * your height in metres = …
(An exception is if you have lots of muscle mass because you are a bodybuilder or strength athlete.)



Losing weight – why?
For many people overweight (BMI = 25 to 29,9) and extreme overweight (obesity; BMI = 30 or higher) are a cosmetic problem – i.e. they don’t want to “look fat”. But overweight and especially obesity aren’t just cosmetic problems. Overweight – and especially abdominal fat – also cause metabolic problems and increase your risk for pretty much every chronic disease (except osteoporosis). Overweight increases inflammation in your body, and raises your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, artery damage in your lungs or legs or eyes or sexual organs or any other organ), your risk of many different types of cancer, your risk of diabetes (and all the problems that are often caused by diabetes such as heart attack, nerve damage, blindness, amputations and sexual dysfunction) and your risk of kidney, liver and joint damage as well as breathing and pregnancy problems, and probably depression and dementia. In men overweight also lowers testosterone production. Men with obesity can also suffer from so-called buried penis.

Losing weight – why not? 
If you are already underweight you should not try to lose more weight. Underweight can damage your bones and weaken your immune system.


5 steps to eat well and lose weight

1) Don't drink calories. 
Don't drink sugar-sweetened beverages (Coca Cola etc.). Alcoholic drinks are high in calories, too. Avoid sugary "fruit juice drinks" (= water with sugar and a little bit of fruit juice.) 

2) Drink lots of water – you can also drink herbal teas, green or black (or white) tea, coffee or vegetable juices. If you drink fruit juice, choose only 100% fruit juices – and drink fruit juice in moderation (for example a glass a day). If you drink soya milk, choose brands without added sugar (or with less added sugar).

3) Minimize "junk food": any foods that contain a lot of added sugar, any deep-fried foods, candy bars, meat-based hamburgers, French fries, ... They are all high in calories and they are all unhealthy.

4) Eat plants. Eat more plants. You don't have to eat less food, if you want to lose weight. You can even eat more! Choose healthy plant foods: fresh fruit, raw or cooked vegetables, whole grains, legumes (tofu, beans, chickpeas, peas, etc.), and some nuts and seeds (about a handful per day, without oil and unsalted). Start by eating 4 to 5 pieces of fruit for breakfast every morning. You can make smoothies with fruit and soya milk and/or water = healthy fast food. Avoid eating large amounts of fruit with other meals, because it might cause digestion problems/discomfort for you. Find fruits and vegetables that you love and eat them. The first step is to go shopping: buy more fruits and vegetables. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables of different colours. They are full of antioxidants and other plant components that are good for all of your organs, including your skin.

5) Make your food tasty! If you cook for yourself (which I recommend) add something SWEET (a tiny bit of juice/sugar), something SOUR (some lemon/vinegar), something SALTY (a little soya sauce/salt/seaweed), something FATTY (ground nuts/nut butter/a bit of olive oil or canola oil/some grated coconut) & something BITTER (most vegetables are a tiny bit bitter – so you do not have to add anything). Also use ingredients that will add the flavour UMAMI (for example tomato sauce, vinegar, nutritional yeast, yeast flakes, mushrooms, sea vegetables, olives, sauerkraut, soya sauce or other fermented foods). In addition, add
 lots of spices and/or herbs and use less salt. 


What else? And ... how do you start?
Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Breakfast: Eat 4 to 5 pieces of fruit. 
Make a smoothie, for example. Add soya milk and add some chia seeds or ground linseeds (flax seeds).

Lunch & dinner: Make at least half of your plate vegetables. Add whole grains & legumes if you can. Avoid large amounts of meat, eggs or cheese (or avoid them completely).

Also, moving your body (sports, dancing, anything you like) & not smoking (also avoid second-hand smoke and air pollution if possible) & sleeping enough & relaxing enough are important for your health, beautiful skin, a healthy weight, and hopefully more happiness for you.
If you want to follow a vegan (like I do) or near-vegan plant-based diet you should familiarize yourself with some nutrients that are especially important for plant-based diets. See my recommendations here.
Plant-based diets are widely recommended by leading nutrition and disease prevention authorities, including the World Cancer Research Fund.