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Ollie Thompson: Three nutritional strategies to achieve successful weight loss

Our fitness expert Ollie Thompson discusses approaches to diet.

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in our overall health and wellbeing. Over the years, several nutritional strategies have gained prominence for their health benefits, impact on weight management and longevity.

Personal trainer, Ollie Thompson, wellbeing consultant and creator of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell
Personal trainer, Ollie Thompson, wellbeing consultant and creator of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell

Among these, there are three specific diet strategies that stand out: calorie restriction, time-restricted eating and dietary restriction. In this article, I’ll delve into the specifics of each strategy, including actionable steps to successfully implement them.

Calorie restriction

This is a dietary approach based around reducing overall calorie intake. The idea behind this strategy is to lower overall energy consumption, enabling a calorie deficit, also known as a negative energy balance - a crucial component of fat loss over time.

Calorie restriction is a popular approach for weight loss. It’s, in fact, the one component that’s necessary in all fat-loss diets. Without a caloric deficit, fat loss simply cannot happen. Calorie restriction can also improve metabolic markers, such as blood glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

However, it's crucial to ensure that a calorie-restricted diet still provides essential nutrients to prevent deficiencies. Planning is essential to include nutrient-dense foods, ensuring that you’re still consuming adequate protein, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Calorie restriction can be challenging to maintain long-term and may lead to nutrient deficiencies, loss of muscle mass, energy dips as well as a host of health problems. If you’re looking to lose some fat, I recommend consuming a moderate calorie deficit of roughly 500 calories and taking breaks from the deficit sometimes. For a personalised number, complete a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculator online.

Time-restricted eating

Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, a wellbeing consultant and creator of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell
Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, a wellbeing consultant and creator of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell

More commonly known as intermittent fasting, time-restricted eating is a dietary approach that involves consuming all daily calories within a specific window of time, typically 8-12 hours, and fasting for the remaining hours. The 16:8 method is the most popularised approach, where you fast for 16 hours of the day and then consume all of your food within an eight-hour window, typically around 12-8 pm.
Time-restricted eating can be a powerful way of controlling calorie intake by reducing the opportunity to consume food during periods of the day, in many cases encouraging fat loss when executed properly.

A common constraint with time-restricted eating is the belief that as you’re only eating within a time window, then fat loss is inevitable. While it can work, many people still overeat, preventing any fat loss. The time-restricted eating approach doesn’t typically restrict the foods you consume and therefore many people will eat a lot of junk in the eating window and ultimately not only diminish any chances of fat loss but often jeopardise their health.

For the time-restricted eating approach to be successful, you must eat sensibly, with healthy, nutrient-dense foods and limited ultra-processed and unhealthy foods.
An inevitable challenge you will experience during the first week is tolerating the increased hunger during fasting periods. This can often cause people to give in. Pushing through this initial hunger takes some willpower.

Dietary restriction

This involves limiting or eliminating specific food groups or ingredients from your diet, such as animal products, starchy foods or alcohol. Depending on the specific dietary restrictions, weight loss can occur, achieved via a calorie deficit I discussed previously.

Certain dietary restrictions, such as a Mediterranean diet or plant-based diet, have been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved heart health and longevity, but the evidence is still somewhat unclear and nuanced.

A common issue involved with eliminating food groups is nutrient deficiencies if not properly planned. Dietary restrictions can also be challenging to maintain long-term due to limited food choices and social implications.

I’ve had clients find success by combining this dietary restriction approach with the time-restricted approach, eliminating specific unhealthy foods and alcohol while also only eating within an eight-hour window each day.

In conclusion, calorie restriction, time-restricted eating and dietary restriction are three nutritional strategies that offer various potential benefits and constraints. While each strategy has its unique approach and considerations, they share a common overarching approach of creating fat loss by developing a calorie deficit one way or another.

When considering which of these strategies is for you, it's essential to consider your lifestyle and schedule, your current eating habits, and health. Consider also consulting with your GP or registered dietitian to ensure suitability for your individual needs and goals.

For more details on this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly for a chat.

Ollie specialises in helping career-focused professionals get into great shape, build long-term health and perform better in their work. Ollie works across Cambridge and London and offers both in-person and virtual personal training. Visit www.welltolead.com and follow Ollie on Instagram @olliethompsonhealth for more.

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