Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — A Guide to Healthy Weight Loss

Let’s face it- there is an endless amount of overwhelming information on the internet about how to lose weight quickly. In this week’s article of Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes, I am going to lay out the science of losing weight and how to do it healthily and mindfully.

Being overweight or obese can put our bodies at risk of developing a range of health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer. If your goal is to lose weight, here are the best practices to go about it:

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

The Science Behind Weight Loss

Losing weight is a complex process. To effectively lose body fat, you must eat fewer calories than you burn- this is also known as eating in a caloric deficit. In general, most people should eat 250-500 calories less each day than normal to lose ½ to 1 pound of body fat per week.

This can be achieved through a combination of optimal nutrition and exercise. When you consume fewer calories than you burn, your body is forced to use stored fat for energy, resulting in weight loss. It is important to remember that the rate of weight loss will vary for every single person depending on their genetics, starting weight, nutrition, and exercise routine. It is important to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet to ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients that your body needs.

Our bodies respond in surprising ways when we lose weight. They react to weight loss by trying to regain weight, which makes weight management a constant tug-of-war. Our metabolism- the process of creating energy from the food we eat, also slows down, and gets more efficient, requiring fewer calories to do its job.

Why you should fear fad diets:

Fad diets for weight loss such as the keto diet, Atkin’s Diet, South Beach Diet, vegan diet, raw food diet, carb-cutting, and juice diets are too restrictive and can be harmful to our health. They often eliminate entire food groups or require us to consume very few calories. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, and other health problems. Let alone the emotional and physical toll that dieting can create on a person’s mental health.

Additionally, fad diets are not sustainable, which means that any weight lost will likely be regained once the diet is stopped. It is important to focus on making long-term lifestyle changes instead of quick fixes.

My best tips for healthy weight loss:

• Create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn through exercise and daily activities.

• Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, and nuts and seeds.

• Fill up on fiber! Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are all high-fiber foods.

• Focus on eating high quality protein foods such as fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, eggs, low-fat dairy products, and beans and legumes.

• Limit processed foods and fast food.

• Cut back on refined carbs like white bread, instant white rice, and pasta. These types of foods are low in fiber, digested quickly, and only keep you full for a brief period of time.

• Avoid added sugars and sugar alcohols. These are mostly found in sodas and other sweet drinks, candies, and desserts.

• Stay hydrated! Aim to drink at least 8-10 cups (2-3 liters) of water every day.

• Practice mindful eating and work to regulate emotional overeating.

• Do not deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Being able to enjoy a small portion of a homemade dessert or indulging in a favorite holiday dish is part of having a healthy relationship with food.

• Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, such as cardio and strength training.

• Find movement that you enjoy, whether it’s running, cycling, dancing, weight training at a gym, spin class or a Pilates class.

• Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night to support your brain, recovery from exercise, and your metabolism.

• Stay consistent with your healthy habits and be patient with yourself! Weight loss takes time and effort if done correctly and sustainably.

If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at