I would bet that
without even thinking, you could name 4 or 5
diets or eating plans that are in the popular
media...Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Atkins,
South Beach, etc. Every time you turn around,
there's a fantastic "new" approach
to eating. It's enough to make your head spin!
But it doesn't
have to be that complicated. I've got some easy-to-follow
nutritional principles that will help keep you
on the right track. Beginner or advanced, these
will work for you!
1. Focus your eating on natural,
unprocessed foods as much as possible.
While I know it's
not always possible to get fresh fruit and veggies
and other unprocessed foods everywhere you go,
your body will always respond best when you
feed it foods that are not altered through processing.
Your body has evolved over thousands and thousands
of years to process foods in their natural state
- it's only relatively recently that processed
foods have appeared on the scene.
Your body has
the digestive mechanisms for efficiently processing
foods in their natural state. When you add in
the fats, salt, sugar, additives, etc., your
body starts having a hard time digesting and
coping. Think of it like trying to put regular
gas into a vehicle that runs on diesel. It may
run, but it's not going to be very efficient
with the fuel and it could cause problems down
the road (no pun intended!)
Bottom Line: Eating
foods that are not processed allows your body
to function more efficiently. You'll lose fat
without even trying.
2. Get plenty of good quality,
lean protein sources in your diet
When you're training,
your body has a much greater need for protein.
During weight training and endurance training
especially, your body is constantly breaking
down muscle tissue. Protein is required to rebuild
it. By regularly feeding your body good protein
sources, you'll be able to hold onto and build
muscle mass easier.
Good sources of
lean protein include meats (look for leaner
cuts like sirloin), poultry, eggs (while not
lean, eggs will not shoot up your cholesterol
as many worry), fish, low-fat dairy, soybeans,
and various legumes (beans).
As far as how
much protein your body needs, this will vary
according to how much you weigh and your activity
level. A level of around 1 gram per pound of
lean bodyweight is a good guideline (we don't
count total bodyweight because fat is not metabolically
active and doesn't require protein to sustain
3. Don't be afraid of "good"
Fats can be extremely
beneficial, even when you're trying to lose
weight! Fats are important in a tremendous variety
of bodily processes including hormone production,
immunity, joint and organ protection, and even
burning bodyfat. Without the "good"
fats, your body will not function as well as
fats include sources such as fish, nuts, flax
oil, borage oil, and olive oil (there are many
other good sources as well). Increasing your
intake of these good fats can help keep you
feeling good and burning your own bodyfat more
Your total fat
intake should be around 30% of your daily calories.
A good way to go about getting this is to try
and keep your focus primarily on low-fat foods
while purposefully adding the "good"
fats into your diet (like eating a few almonds
every day or taking fish oil or flax oil capsules).
4. Carbs are fine
Despite all the
talk about carbs being the enemy, it's important
to note that carbs and foods that contain carbs
can actually be quite good for you! It's generally
the refined sugar added to foods that is the
problem, not the carbohydrate as a nutrient
on its own.
5. Non-nutritious foods should
This is an easy
one. More than likely, you already know that
you shouldn't be eating Cheesy-Poofs or chocolate
bars 3 meals a day. The calories you get from
these foods don't come with any actual nutrients.
When your body is missing nutrients, it craves
more food (not to mention the insulin response
to the sugar in many of these foods) and you
tend to eat more of the poor food that doesn't
have nutrients in it.
It's ironic to
think that many overweight people are actually
malnourished! When you eat nutrient-dense foods,
your body gets the nutrients it needs and functions
5. Salads, fruits and vegetables
will give you lots of fiber, roughage and nutrition
Eat plenty of
salds, fruits and veggies every day. This is
usually one that everybody already knows yet
doesn't normally focus on. The fiber in the
foods helps keep you from getting too hungry
and helps keep your digestive system clean.
6. Just do the best you can
It's not always
easy or convenient to follow good eating principles.
There are plenty of tasty temptations to be
found every time you turn around.
The REAL key to
proper nutrition is to focus on trying to do
well MOST of the time, not all of the time.
It's what you do most of the time that will
give you the long-term results you're looking
for. Determining that you MUST be perfect all
of the time is a sure way to set yourself up
for disappointment when the time comes that
you don't eat a perfectly healthy food choice.
just have to eat those Cheesy Poofs and not
worry about it.