Many people get frustrated and give up when it comes to figuring out when to eat, what to eat and what not to eat. You should not have to use a calculator to know if you are eating right. Nutrition is a science, however it’s not Rocket Science!
Having lost over 75 lbs. and sustaining the majority of that for over four years, I can tell you from my own personal experience what works in the real world.
I do not count calories and I don’t recommend it to anyone. An excessive focus on calories leads to the idea that quantity is more important than quality and this is simply not the case.
With that in mind, here are a few of my best straightforward tips on the subject:
Eat Real Food This one tip alone would probably clear up most of the concerns people have with regard to proper nutrition. We have processed, chemically altered and added preservatives hydrogenated fats and sugars to practically every type of food imaginable until they barely resemble the choices our ancestors had just a generation or two ago!
The bottom line is if it comes from a bag, a box, or out of a window you don’t need it. If it comes from the ground, or ate something that came from the ground, then it’s probably o.k.
Eat More Often This is a major problem that is easy to overcome. Many people in America wake up, guzzle some coffee with sugar and cream and then rush off to work. Later, around 9:00 – 10:00 am (because they are starving) they grab a doughnut or some other pastry. Once that wears off, they experience a drop in energy and start looking around for some fast fix to get back to that level. This is known as the carbohydrate cycle, or more accurately the sugar cycle, since all foods are eventually stored or converted to glucose or blood sugar. My recommendation is to eat a meal within an hour of waking up and another meal or snack again every three hours until bedtime. This keeps your blood sugar levels stable and gives you more energy throughout the day.
Make Vegetables the Foundation of Every Meal This strategy is also huge. Raw leafy green vegetables like Romaine lettuce and spinach are the best. They take up more space in your stomach so you feel full on fewer calories. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli also provide valuable nutrients. Don’t spoil it by covering them with commercial salad dressing filled with empty calories though. A mixture of olive oil and lemon juice or a little pesto sauce will work just fine!
Build Protein in to Every Meal We also tend to overdo protein consumption in this country, but if you aim for the right kinds in the right amounts, this tip can be invaluable. The way the protein is prepared and stored has a lot to do with its quality and value. Skip fried and breaded foods. You also want to avoid cured, smoked or dried meats. They are low quality and can actually be harmful. Lean meats like chicken breast, lean beef, turkey or white fish are all excellent. I also eat eggs, Greek yogurt and whey protein every single day. Consume the proper portion, usually a cup or half-cup depending on your size and whether it is for a meal or snack. This is an amount roughly equal to the palm of your hand or a clenched fist.
Go Low Glycemic The Glycemic Index is a numeric scale that was developed to help diabetics manage their blood sugar. “But I don’t have diabetes!” you say. Even if this is the case, you should eat like you do, or like you are at risk of developing this disorder, because like it or not we are all at risk! Type 2 (or adult onset) diabetes is a major health concern in America and it is directly tied to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.
If you are unfamiliar with this scale, you can look it up online. It basically measures the average amount of increase in test subjects’ blood sugar for a given amount of carbohydrate food compared to regular table sugar. Of course consuming some protein and fat along with your carbohydrate source will minimize the spike in blood sugar, but it pays to know which foods are best when planning your meals. When your blood glucose is elevated, you won’t lose weight no matter how hard you try.
Fats are our Friends! I couldn’t leave out the last of the major macro-nutrients! Fats have gotten a bad rap over the past 20 years but scientists are finding out that not all fats are bad for you. The ones to limit or avoid are saturated, those that are solid at room temperature, or hydrogenated (man-made). Oils are best limited since they contain too many calories and too few nutrients. However, foods containing these monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats when consumed in moderation are beneficial.
Plan ahead My absolute best strategy is to just make your meals and snacks ahead of time and pack them before your day begins. So many people hit the vending machine or a fast food restaurant out of desperation, simply because they failed to plan ahead. Don’t succumb to this temptation.
With these strategies in place, you will move ahead by leaps and bounds with your attempts at healthy eating and weight loss. I would love to hear bout your progress! Please comment below or on the Community Page on Facebook. If you are not a subscriber yet, you can sign up to receive an article like this one each week to help you look and feel your best. When you do, I will send you a free preview of my new book, Challenged to Change before it is available in stores.
Until next time, Stay Strong and Live With Faith! ~ Jason