I HATE diets….which is probably a good thing because I’ve never been able to follow them anyway. If I tell myself I can’t have something I just want it more, more, MORE.
Just the word diet gets my goat.
Diets are in my opinion a short term solution to a long term problem. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘There are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss’ and it’s true – not if you want that weight loss to last….and when I say weight loss I specifically mean fat loss. You really don’t want to get rid of your muscle when losing weight as that’s what drives your metabolism, keeps you strong and stops you getting saggy (particularly important as you start getting older). It is worth noting that on crash diets up to 40% of the weight you lose can come from muscle – trust me, this is not good news!
Diets are a quick fix. Sure they may work (or not) in the short term, but when you fall off the diet wagon, (which inevitably will happen) the weight goes back on. Only when the weight goes back on it is all fat (not any of the muscle you may have lost) and normally you get some bonus fat for free on top due to your metabolism slowing (bargain eh – NOT). Welcome to the world of Yo-Yo dieting!
So how do you get leaner and lose those unwanted fat pounds in a healthy way? The answer; Clean up your eating in a way that is sustainable long term. Yep it might take longer to shift, but better to shift it slowly and maintain it in the long term than shift it quickly and see it go back on just as quickly. I have a simple saying ‘Quickly off means quickly on’.
So ditch any thoughts of diets. Clean, healthy eating is where it’s at. What do I mean by that? Well basically a balanced diet of fresh, unprocessed food. To provide a bit more info here are the rules I follow with my nutrition.
- Include Protein with every meal – Protein is a key element to a healthy diet that is often under consumed. Protein itself doesn’t burn fat but it will keep you full for longer and can help boost your metabolism as it takes more calories for your body to process it. You’ll feel full for longer, burn more calories and assist your body to repair. I really noticed a real difference in my body fat (for the better) when I started tweaking my nutrition to include more protein and I now make sure I include some kind of protein in every meal or snack I eat.
- Keep sugar to a minimum – yep I know a lot of yummy foods have sugar, but sugar is one of the enemies when it comes to keeping lean and healthy. The more you eat it the more you crave it. Too much sugar causes your body to produce lots of insulin which is one of your bodies top fat storage hormones – so STEP AWAY from sugary sweetness. I don’t just mean the sugar bowl; sugar is hidden in lots of processed foods and tasty treats too. Even things that market themselves as being a healthy alternative such as muesli bars are laden with sugar. I’ve found stevia a good natural substitute (a sweet herb available in health food stores) as well as maple syrup (although go easy on this). Definitely do not replace sugar with artificial sweeteners – we may be told they are safe but do your research and you might change your mind (just saying).
- Eat your greens – Include lots of green veg in your diet such as spinach, kale, silverbeet, broccoli, bok choy, seaweed and yep even brussel sprouts. Greens have heaps of health benefits like providing antioxidants, phytochemicals and heaps of other good things that fight disease and slow down the aging process. Another clever thing about green veg is that the bitter taste they usually have means that you are less likely to crave sugary things. If you up your greens you may find this naturally helps reduce the sweet cravings.
- Water, water, water. – I typically drink between 2 to 3 litres of water every day. Does drinking heaps of water make you lose fat – in all honesty I don’t know – although I do believe being dehydrated can make you hold on to fat and fluid. What I also know is that keeping well hydrated will keep you feeling full for longer (thirst signals are often confused with hunger), make your skin look better and younger and just make you feel energised and good. Another tip – drink your water between meals as drinking too much with your meals dilutes the acids in your stomach and hinders digestion.
- Think Low H.I. Foods– You’ve probably heard of G.I. (glycaemic index) but how about H.I (Human Intervention). I read this somewhere recently and loved this concept. Low H.I. foods mean unprocessed foods i.e. foods that have not gone through the rigorous human processing to make them taste great, last longer or be made cheaper. These foods are the number one cause of the obesity epidemic and all its associated illness that the western world suffers today. Don’t be fooled into thinking the so called diet foods are any better. Promises of ‘reduced fat’ or ‘low sugar’ and other marketing slogans are often food manufacturers ways of tricking you into buying some kind of non-nutritious processed food – what they take away (e.g. less fat), they normally replace with some sort of toxin to make it taste good. The body was simply not designed to process these additives and chemicals and they generally hamper your efforts to be lean and healthy.
- Eat fat!!! – Yes really, I’m not kidding. It sounds insane right – but if you take a look back at old photos of people 60 years ago you will likely find the majority to have been a healthy weight. There wasn’t the rate of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity back then. People then would have eaten lard, butter, full fat milk and many other of the fats we are told to avoid today but there would have been no abundance of process foods and takeaway delights that are everywhere today. Eating fat is part of Mother Nature’s design for us as humans and is part of our metabolism. It’s through fat that we absorb many essential vitamins and minerals. It is not fat that is our enemy, it’s a particular type of fat (and no it’s not saturated fat) its transfat!! Transfat is the nasty mutant relative of the fat family that you want no relationship with. Your body doesn’t recognise it or know what to do with it. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are the main culprits which are found in many of the processed foods available today. Eating a balanced diet containing good fats in moderation will keep you nourished, healthy, energised, full and less likely to over eat. Include foods such as avocados, seeds, nuts, butter, eggs, oily fish, olive oil, nut butters, flaxseed and coconut. If it’s not been tampered with by a manmade process then it should be good to go. (There’s so much I could say on this topic so watch this space I’ll put it on hold for a future blog post).
So those are my top tips to healthy eating for fat loss. Like I said at the start – I don’t do diets but I follow these tips as the principles of my eating and they have kept me pretty lean and healthy.
Do I eat cake? …. sure but as an occasional treat. Do I eat chocolate? – you bet in fact a square of Lindt Sea Salt chocolate is almost a daily treat after my evening meal, BUT it’s just a square not a bar. I tell myself that nothing is off limits and if I REALLY want it I can have it, but I do focus on eating healthy nutritious food that keeps me nourished. By doing this I find I don’t want the crap that makes me feel and look the same way.
I didn’t get rid of ‘Kebab Lotty’ through dieting. I waved good bye to her slowly but surely over time.