Quite often, all of us make eating healthily and dieting far more complicated than it needs to be!
There are a million different diets out there and styles and formats to follow – low carb, keto, paleo, South Beach, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and on and on… Its all so fussy and needlessly complicated! How is anyone supposed to know what the “right” way to eat is?
Well, my first bit of advice is to eschew anything extreme. Even if it produces short term results, if it isn’t something you can follow for the rest of your life, it’s a waste of time. Because guess what happens when you stop doing that extreme regimen and inevitably return to your normal way of eating? The weight comes back, and almost always with a vengeance.
Under “extreme” I would file any super low calorie diet, all diets that eliminate entire food groups and macronutrients (like zero carb diets, dairy-free diets if you aren’t lactose intolerant, fruit-free diets, fat-free diets). Any extreme exercise program that is paired with an unnecessarily low-calorie diet is a recipe for disaster. You are going to hit a wall.
Everyone is going crazy these days eliminating vast swathes of food groups. We’re all going gluten-free, lactose-free, grain-free… While the reasons for doing this can certainly be valid (hi, I’m gluten-free), I’d urge you to do your research, and don’t just cut out certain foods because everyone else is doing it or you read that your favourite celebrity doesn’t eat dairy or gluten or some such nonsense. Figure out if it’s the right thing for you. Unnecessary eliminations make eating complicated. The more complicated your mealtimes are, the less likely you are to stick to your plan and revert to the poor eating habits that got you into bad shape in the first place.
Any exercise or nutritional program you undertake needs to pass the “smell test”, and my smell test is this – is it a balanced approach and is it sustainable long-term? If the answer is no to either, then it’s not a good program.
Here are four simple principles that you can adopt into your diet to start getting results and lasting changes quickly:
1. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Alcohol and soft drinks are the biggest culprits and full of sugar. The next one is fruit juice – full of sugar.
Sugar = carbs. Unused carbs = unsightly fat on your body! Choose water as often as possible instead.
2. Have lots of vegetables at lunch and dinner.
I pile at least half my plate full of vegetables and have giant salads on a regular basis. What do I consider “lots”? Well, if you bunch your hand into a fist, a good serving of veges is about 2 -3 times that amount. Why so many vegetables? They’re full of fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients and they help you feel full. There are also dozens of studies that show a high vegetable intake can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer. Just make sure they aren’t fried or covered in a calorie dense sauce or dressing – steamed is always best. Freshly squeezed lemon and fresh herbs work well to enhance flavour too.
3. Only have carbohydrates during the daytime.
That eating carbs at night or eating anything at night is going to make you fat is a myth. It’s your overall calorie intake vs expenditure that will determine whether you get fatter or leaner. That said, you do want to regulate (not eliminate) your carbohydrate intake if you would like to get leaner. A simple rule like not having carbs at dinner or after 3pm can help you facilitate that.
4. Base each meal around a Protein portion.
This ones a bit of a “duh”, but it always bears repeating. Protein is not only for bodybuilders. A high protein diet is indispensible when shedding kilos because it will help dramatically with satiety (i.e: feeling full) and as you lose weight, it will help you retain your lean body mass. You know how everyone and their mother lists “being toned” as one of their overriding fitness goals? Well guess what? MUSCLE helps keep you looking “toned” and a high protein diet will help you not only maintain that, but feel less hungry while doing it.
Remember, there is no such thing as a “quick fix”. What builds the best looking, healthiest, most amazing bodies is a commitment to eating a balanced healthy diet and regular exercise. If you really want to change your lifestyle and your body, you have to think long term and expect to get some results in the first 1 – 3 months, with the real rewards for your efforts coming 3 – 6 months and beyond. Maybe more, depending on your starting point.
How many people do you know that adopted an extreme crazy diet, starved off the fat and exercised til they dropped and in a month or two got an incredible body that they maintain to this day?
*crickets*… my point exactly.