When you’re trying to lose weight, the key, as everyone knows, is to cut back on your food intake so you’re eating in moderation. Eating less will help you to avoid consuming too many calories, which your body turns into stored fat. By cutting back on your consumption, you’ll prevent overloading your body with calories—particularly the calories from high-carb and high-sugar foods. But the question is: is moderation enough? Can you really lose weight just by reducing your food intake, or do you need to take extra steps to ensure weight loss?
Why it Seems Like a Good Idea
When you’re moderate in your food intake, you reduce the amount of “extras” you eat. You skip dessert because, as you know, sugary foods are terrible for your gut health. You avoid all those junk foods that pile on the calories but provide little to no nutritional value. And you reduce the amount of total food that you eat, leading to fewer calories your body has to process for energy. On the face of things, it seems like moderation is the best way to lose weight.
The Real Danger of “Everything in Moderation”
One study found that eating a wide range of foods “in moderation” actually led to higher chances of weight gain. Participants who reported eating a variety of foods had significantly greater instances of weight gain—up to 120% higher! On the flip side, those who only ate few foods—even unhealthy ones—were less likely to gain weight.
Why Does This Happen?
According to the research, when you eat a wide variety of foods, you often end up eating more because your brain ignores the hunger signals and you start eating because the foods taste good. Even if the foods are healthy, you may end up eating them on top of everything else you’re eating, so you still get all the calories from the other foods, just with more added on top. Worse, you may end up eating a wider variety of unhealthy foods—foods high in sugars, fats, preservatives, and additives—because you feel like it’s “just a little”. All the benefits of eating healthy are negated by the fact that you’re putting more junk in your body.
Moderation vs. Quality
In the end, the quality of the food you eat is going to be far more important than the quantity. You can eat small bites of 1,000 different foods, but you’ll lose weight if those foods are healthy, and you’ll gain weight if they’re high in sugar and carbs. The key to weight loss is to improve the quality of the food you put in your body while also putting less quantity. Being moderate in all of your food intake is a good second step, but before you take that step, you’ve got to make sure that you’re putting high-quality nutrients into your body first.
Can You Still Eat in Moderation?
If you’re thinking that you can no longer have your favorite junk foods and desserts because those little bites are causing weight gain, you’d be right. Most of the time, that is! Your goal should be to drastically scale back your “exceptions”, those times when you have a bite of food or two because it’s “just a little bit”. Your primary goal should be to make your meals as healthy and balanced as possible, with the focus on high-nutrient foods that actually provide your body with the micro and macronutrients required. But, on very rare occasions, it’s okay to have just one bite or two of something tasty.