When someone decides they want to get in shape and get the perfect body they have always wanted, the first thing that usually happens is they begin a diet. Then after a few days they become frustrated, give into food cravings and stop altogether. I want to encourage those of you who are looking to lose weight to change your mindset and take a different approach. Try eating to feel better instead of beginning a diet to lose weight. Learn how to combine, and prepare fresh foods for improved health and in time you will lose weight. It may not happen over night, but be consistent and before you know it, you will start to feel better, have more energy and that is when you should notice the weight loss begin.
I discussed some nutritional strategies for weight loss several posts ago, but I was hoping to break some points down a bit further and provide some suggestions of what would be healthy choices but yet still taste good.
Eat every 2-3 hours. The purpose of this is to keep your metabolism revved up by eating smaller but more frequent meals and snacks. These should consist of lean protein and vegetables and or fruit. By doing this you will obtain better maintenance of lean muscle and improved physical performance.
Eat lean protein. Of its many functions, protein is needed to build and maintain muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. So how much protein should you be eating? The average adult requires 0.8 grams/kg of bodyweight. The active adult requires 1.2 grams-1.7 grams/kg of bodyweight. So if you were to examine the requirements for a 150 lb adult they would need between 54 grams for the average sedentary adult to 82-116 grams for the active adult. Good choices of lean protein can be found in lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish, yogurt, eggs, milk and legumes (beans, dried peas, lentils).
Eat Vegetables at every meal. Vegetables are a great source of low-fat carbohydrates and they can be quite filling. The most overlooked group of vegetables is leafy greens. Leafy greens are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins A, D, E, K, iron and calcium. As well they have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Great sources of leafy greens to include in your diet on a regular basis are: kale, spinach, collard greens, bok choy, swiss chard, arugula, mizuna, and mustard greens.
Eat healthy fats. Fats are used by the body for energy. Although there are many types of fats, some healthy and some not, I want to focus on omega 3 fatty acids for this article. Omega 3’s are known as essential fatty acids because the body is not able to produce them therefore they are essential to be included in our diet. They play a crucial role in brain function, normal growth and development and have been proven to reduce inflammation. Great sources of omega 3’s can be found in salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines, mackerel and some nut oils.
If you are looking for other sources of healthy fats that do not include fish, you can find them in avocado, almonds, olive oil, coconut oil, flax seeds, peanuts and peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
One important point I want to mention is when chosing fresh foods to eat try to make selections with a low glycemic index. A glycemic index is a measure of how carbohydrates affect the blood sugar levels. By focusing on foods with a low GI this will help to regulate your blood sugar level and prevent highs and lows in your energy levels. Below are some examples of the different glycemic index foods.
- High glycemic index-glucose, maple syrup, honey, bagels, candy, carrots, crackers, potatoes
- Medium glycemic bananas, grapes, oatmeal, orange juice, pasta, rice
- Low glycemic index-apples, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, dates, figs, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, milk, yogurt
Now how does all of this translate to putting together healthy meals for yourself. Here are some ideas of healthy meals that I have been eating to try to win the bet that I have to get as toned and defined as possible by May 31st.
- Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, 1 piece of fruit, 8 oz water
- 1 bowl of oatmeal with almonds, blueberries, low-fat milk
- Huevos rancheros wrap with Canadian bacon, 8 oz water
- 1 bowl of bran cereal with low-fat milk, 1 banana with almond butter, tea
- Mediterranean wrap with chicken and marinated vegetables, warm chickpea salad, 1 apple
- Turkey chili( with bell peppers, onion, celery, white beans, low sodium canned tomatoes, and chopped kale), 1/2 cup berries
- Grilled flank steak, spinach salad, 1 oz parmesan cheese, oil and vinegar, almonds
- Vegetarian sloppy joes, 1/2 cup coleslaw, 1/2 cup red grapes
- Grilled orange roughy fish tacos, 2 small whole wheat tortillas,shredded arugula, carrot and pineapple salsa
- Ground beef taco salad with romaine and mizuna lettuce, chopped tomatoes, fresh avocado, black beans and steamed brown rice
- Turkey meatballs and spaghetti squash baked in tomato sauce with artichokes, olives, and spinach
- Celery sticks with cream cheese and olive tapenade/or with humus
- 1 oz of hard cheese and 1/2 cup berries
- Protein smoothie
- 1 oz dates, 1 oz trail mix
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, 1 rice cake
Try these meal ideas or mix and match to make your own healthy combinations. Before you know it you will be feeling better and as an added bonus you will be losing weight.