The Ins & Outs of Nutrition for Weight Loss (Pt. 2)

This week on the podcast, delivered part 2 of our Ins and Out of Nutrition for weight loss. Check out Part 1 if you haven’t already, in which we went over the basics (calculating TDEE, planning your diet, and macronutrients).

Part 2 is all about applying the knowledge we shared in Part 1, and can be split into 4 key parts:

  • Food shopping
  • Meal Planning
  • Cooking
  • Eating

Yes, we will be sharing advice on how to eat – can be more complicated than you think!



1) Food Shopping Tricks & Tips For a Healthy Diet

If you can understand food labels, it will help you make more informed decisions when shopping and eating.

  • Study the ingredients list: Most pre-packaged foods have an ingredients list on the back of the packet. A food’s ingredients are sorted by quantity from largest to the smallest. Therefore, scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you’re eating. If the first three ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or trans-fats, you can assume that this food will be unhealthy for you.
  • Watch out for energy density: Calories (kcal) or kilojoules (kJ) are measures of how much energy is in the product. It’s good to be aware which foods are have a great energy density. Those Keto granola on the right seem healthy, but only in small quantity’s as a tiny serving size of 35g (1.23oz) equals 190 calories, which is 10% of most people’s TDEE. Tip: If you follow the PE ratio, food with a PE ratio above 1 likely won’t be as energy dense as food with a PE ratio below 1.
  • Beware of serving size: The nutrition information per portion will be on the back-of-packet label and on the front of the packet label if there is one. The serving size will be the manufacturer’s recommendation and servings can vary between brands.

For example, one serving may be half a can of soda, a quarter of a cookie, two spoonfuls of granola or half a chocolate bar. So even if a product looks healthy if you have more than this amount, you may end up consuming more calories than you realize.

Beware of Misleading Nutrition Claims

  • Light”, “low calorie” or “low/non fat” or “low sugar” are often watered-down products with smaller serving sizes. One brand’s original version may actually have the same calories as another’s light version. Also, carefully check if a reduction in fat hasn’t led to an increase of sugars and vice versa. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, for example Fage’s nonfat Greek yogurt is an excellent choice.
  • “Low carb”, “Paleo” or “Keto” foods can be great, however, there’s plenty of ultra-processed junk food that has been labeled as such. Watch out for their energy density.
  • “Natural”, “Pure”, “Raw”, “Unfiltered” doesn’t have to mean that the product resembles anything natural. It simply implies that the manufacturer has used no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and perhaps (some) natural ingredients like fruits. Yet, just because there are blueberries and raw cane sugar in a “natural” blueberry muffin it’s still everything but healthy.
  • “Multigrain” may sound very healthy, yet it only means that this food contains over one type of grain. These grains are most likely still refined grains, unless the manufacturer has clearly labeled the product as whole grain.
  • “Made with whole grains” means very little unless the manufacturer has listed whole grains within the first three ingredients.
  • Zero trans-fat” means less than 0.5g of trans-fat per serving. Thus, if serving sizes are tiny, the product may still contain substantial amounts of trans-fat.


2) Healthy Cooking Tips

The key to superb meals on your diet is focusing them around high protein and fiber foods. If you center your meals on the foods mentioned below, that is a great base for a healthy meal.

Sometimes you may be hungry but are unable or unwilling to cook, here’s some healthy non-cooking snacks:

  • hard-boiled eggs
  • (low fat & sodium) cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt (watch out for added sugars!)
  • edamame
  • avocado
  • olives
  • small servings of nuts such as pecans, pine, pistachio, almonds, macadamia, hazelnuts
  • small servings of seeds such as chia, ground flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • small servings of dark chocolate

Here are some of our favourite recipes for weight loss:

The way we prepare food can affect its nutritional value and calories.

Lower-Fat Cooking

If you need to use oil, avoid cooking with sunflower, corn oil, and vegetable oil, instead opt for coconut oil, avocado/olive oil sprays, and butter (or ghee). A good non-stick pan and a spatula and brush help to dramatically reduce the oil needed for frying. Another alternative to cooking in oil is cooking in liquids such as stock, lemon juice, vinegar, or water.

If you are browning vegetables, it’s better to put them in a pan than spray with oil rather than adding the oil first as it reduces the amount absorbed into the veg. Alternatively, instead of browning by pan-frying, put them in the microwave and then crisp them under a grill for a couple of minutes.


Culinary herbs are leafy plants that add flavour and colour to all types of meals. They are also rich in health-protective phyto-oestrogens. Most times, herbs can replace the flavour of salt and oil.


  • Herbs are delicately flavoured, so add them to your cooking in the last few minutes.
  • Dried herbs are more strongly flavoured than fresh. As a general rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals four teaspoons of fresh.
  • Apart from boosting meat dishes, herbs can be added to soups, mustards, salad dressings, vinegars, desserts, and drinks.
  • Herbs such as coriander, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass are especially complimentary in vegetable-based stir-fry recipes.


3) Eating Healthy

Intermittent Fasting

There is a variety of advice regarding the correlation between the timing of eating and the positive effect on weight loss. One suggestion to aid weight loss is to involve intermittent fasting in your lifestyle. This is not a fad diet but a pattern of eating where you only have food in a specific shortened window or time frame. For beginners, this can involve the 14:10 method where you fast for 14 hours and eat for 10, and for the more advanced people, the 16:8 or 22:2 method can be used.

Intermittent fasting is a wonderful method to help you achieve your calorie deficit. As there is a shorter time to eat, you will naturally eat less and require less snacking to get from meal to meal. This, however, doesn’t work for everyone as they don’t actually end up eating less. During your eating periods you shouldn’t be indulging in unhealthy treats, but sticking to your healthy high protein, low-carb diet. Try it for yourself to see if it affects your appetite.

Depending on how long you fast for, it can also create a ketosis effect. If you use the 22:2 method your body will have gone 22 hours without food and is depleted of energy sources that come from the foods we eat. Here there is not enough glucose in our blood to use for energy and so the body uses our fat stores as the major source of energy. This ketosis effect leads to fat stores being depleted and hence to weight loss. Other benefits include increased energy, improved mental clarity, better blood pressure, improved acne, lower inflammation, fewer cravings.

Fasted eating is a good thing to experiment with if you’re wanting to lose weight. You can easily try it out by pushing breakfast back a couple of hours to see how you feel.

You don’t really get into ketosis on <22 hour fasts unless you’re on a <20-40g carbohydrate diet, which in our experience is very hard to sustain.

Dealing With Hunger

As you are going to be consuming fewer calories, inevitably, you will become hungry. But it is important to recognize what type of hunger you have. Yes, there are 3 different types!

  1. Nutrient Hunger

    For your body to function properly, you need vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats from your diet. If you do not give your body these, then it will not like it! Luckily your body will give you a hint that you are lacking them by making you feel hungry.

    This drive to eat is often misinterpreted as a need for food rather than a need for nutrient-dense food. Hence, people turn to non-protein energy, which lacks protein and minerals, filling you with calories that won’t satisfy your hunger.

    Before snacking, think about what nutrients you may have been lacking during the day and opt for a high protein low energy snack such as hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese or some Greek yoghurt.

    2. Energy Hunger

    Your body likes to make sure it has a lot of energy around, just in case of an emergency. But often energy hunger is confused for nutrient hunger.

    To combat this, eat the nutrient-rich foods first and then let your body decide if it needs more energy. Your body will become less hungry for energy when it becomes fat adapted.

    Therefore, decreasing carbs and increasing protein and nutrients is so important to train your body. This hunger can often be hard to understand, and it may take a while to learn how to recognize and react to it.

    3. Hedonic (Emotional) Hunger

    People crave high-energy-density carbs and fats as they are both tasty and rewarding. However, this hunger should be avoided as it will cause you to ingest a sizeable amount of ’empty’ calories.

    To prevent this, it is best to understand the biology behind it so we will ask you a question: What food would you struggle to put down…? A: Salad or B: Fries. Most of you will probably have picked “B” because fries are made of a high-energy-density carbohydrate (potato) and high energy density fat (oil) and are therefore delicious.

    In order to deal with your hunger for these types of foods, it is best not to keep them in the house or buy a healthy alternative. Adopt these tips and it will help you reduce this type of hunger.

    Sometimes, your hedonic hunger might also be a response to stress. Try to find other ways to relieve your stress, such as exercising, meditation, or another hobby that can take your mind off whatever is stressing you.

    Finally, often people can confuse the feeling of hunger with the feeling of thirst, so it is essential you consume a sufficient amount of water every day. Filling your body with water can help you feel more full so it is often a good idea to have a glass before each meal to prevent overeating

How to Stop Over-Eating

  • Use smaller plates and cups – this was you don’t fill up the dish and eat everything on it
  • Don’t buy food you know you can’t stay away from – knowing one of your favourite treats is in the cupboard can be extremely tempting. The easiest thing is to not keep it in the house.
  • Sit down at a table to eat – focusing on eating can help you intuitively eat. Whereas if you are eating in front of the TV you will be mindlessly eating and will be less likely to recognize you are full because of distractions.
  • Try to eat slowly, chewing more than you usually would, engaging your senses by noticing the colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors of the food you eat.
  • If you are eating at a restaurant, ask the server to put half in a takeaway box – restaurant portions are often very large and calorific so putting half aside prevents you from eating it all.

Top Tips for When You’re Eating Out:

Study the menu before you get there  – Knowing what you will choose to eat before you get to a restaurant will remove any impulse picking. Having a plan will help you stay away from the more unhealthy choices.

Try ordering before everyone else – Have you been in a situation where a friend orders a starter and main which makes you think just having a main isn’t enough? This is because people affect our decisions, especially in social settings. If you are eating in a group, order first and stick to your plan. Don’t be swayed by anyone else’s choices.

Ask to make a healthy swap – When you order your meal, ask the server to swap part of your meal, such as fries or potatoes, for extra vegetables or a salad. You’ll boost your vegetable intake and cut your calories.

Ask for sauces and dressings on the side – These additions can contain much more sugar and calories than expected so ask for them in a dish on the side. Keeping it separate will make it much easier to control the amount you eat.

Avoid sugary soda drinks and juices – These drinks are a no-go as they have strong links to obesity and type 2 diabetes. So stick to good old water.

Limit (or better avoid) alcohol – Once again, alcohol is a great inhibitor of weight loss and is best avoided. If you are to drink, order smaller amounts and opt for wine or spirits (see our alcohol guide above).

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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
Get the Ultimate Nutrition Guide
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