We are confronted with a list of questions daily regarding how we should live a healthy lifestyle, what food should I consume how much exercise should I do. When I began my weight loss journey I found it hard to control my eating habits. What I eventually realized was that I could exercise everyday, but I would never reach my weight loss goals if did not make an adjustment to my diet. I eventually concluded that what I ate and when, was just as important as how much I exercised. I first must start with a disclaimer: the information provided in this blog is for reference regarding a general healthy eating plan. For a more detailed and individually tailored eating plan, you must consult with a registered dietician / nutritionist.
With regards to eating healthy here are basic facts:
- Eliminating sodas from your diet may translate into 15 pounds of weight loss in 12 months.
- 3500 calories equates to 1 pound of fat
- Fewer calories in, more calories out = weight loss
Most people see weight loss as being on a diet. You should see healthy eating and living as a lifestyle change and not a diet. When one thinks of a diet they think of it being restricted. The science behind it suggests that you can eat any and everything you want, however do so in moderation. The United States Food and Drug Administration recommend a diet of no less than 1200 calories per day for an average adult. So for example, if you eat 1200 calories of Twinkies, or Snicker bar every day, you will still maintain a healthy weight. Therefore 1200 calories of Twinkies is the same as 1200 calories of carrots.
Do you want a diet of just fat, sugar and cholesterol? The answer I hope, is no. Therefore as part of your general caloric intake you want to have a balanced diet of sufficient fruit, vegetables, and protein.
For me, I started out rather strict, I limited myself to a daily calorie intake of 1200. Depending on your level of physical activity and body size you may consume more. Very athletic and physically active individuals typically consume on average around 3000 calories per day.
Never skip breakfast! – Breakfast jump starts your metabolism; you typically want to consume something within 30 minutes of waking up. Have a balanced breakfast as this will help to control your glycemic index throughout the day (release of sugar in the body).
- A good breakfast will include eggs, whole wheat bread, yogurt, or a cereal of your choice.
Eat at least 3 meals a day, with 3 snacks for a total of 6 meals. Your body should be on a schedule, this helps to boost your metabolism. My body expects food every two hours. Your snacks should not break the 100 calorie mark. I typically don’t count the caloric content of fruits, so I allow myself to consume fruits as I see fit (remember moderation….so no one wants to eat 5 apples for a snack. One will do). Ideas for a healthy snack:
- Raw almonds (1 serving. A serving will be the cup of your palm. Around 10 pieces of almonds).
- Yogurt – low fat (Greek yogurt is one of the best, it’s high in protein)
- Fruits: Banana, apple, grapes, strawberries etc.
Stay away from empty calories – Empty calories typically come in liquid forms. Fruit drinks, sodas, etc. They are called empty calories because you can consume a significant portion without feeling full and realizing how much sugar you are consuming. If you must drink a fruit drink, make sure it says 100% fruit juice. For example most V8 drinks are only 10% fruit juice. Even if you are having 100% juice, the sugar content is typically high. Try not to consume more than 8oz. You may dilute the drink: half water, half fruit juice. This will lower the sugar content without sacrificing the taste. So for example if you are having apple juice, you may use water to dilute it, or lost of ice. Most branded fruit drinks are already too sweet.
- Avoid the white stuff, and replace them with brown. Therefore try limiting your intake of white rice, white bread, crackers etc. Replace these foods with WHOLE GRAINS! Such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, quinoa (you can find in health food stores) etc. When buying anything, read the labels carefully. Something that says Multi-grain is not necessarily healthy, as they only use portions of the grain, and not the whole. So make sure the ingredients say WHOLE grain, WHOLE wheat. If bread for example says wheat bread, and also has enriched bleached flour, it is not WHOLE wheat.
- When eating meat, a typical service size of lean protein should be no more than 4oz. per meal. That is typically the size of your fist, or a deck of playing cards. When eating chicken, remove the skin (this reduces the fat content). Eliminate any, if not all, fried foods. Limit your intake of Fast Food. Some recent studies point to the health benefits of consuming fish. Some items which are very good for us, which most people overlook are Sardines! Yes Sardines. Have it on a toast for a healthy breakfast option or lunch. The same goes for Tuna (minus all the fat from mayonnaise). How about Salmon for dinner? Great idea!
When it comes to eating you want to make healthy choices. Have a balanced meal, and count calories! Be conscious of what you put into your body. More whole wheat and whole grains and less white starchy foods mean a healthier you, and a better digestive system.
A great meal replacement option is buying fruits like banana, strawberries, orange, and apple. Cut them up, toss them in a blender, add a few table spoons of vanilla low-fat yogurt, a few cubes of ice, and blend. Great tasting meal replacement smoothie! For added protein you may choose to add Whey protein powder to the blend. You will love it, I promise!
Also, eat from a smaller plate. The smaller the plate you eat from, the less likely you are to over eat. Trick the mind to think it is eating a lot. A plate with just meat and starch is never good. Make it a colorful plate: ½ vegetables, ¼ portion of protein, & ¼ portions of starch carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa etc). Sweet potato is also a great option.
Make a commitment to dedicate at least 30 minutes per day to cardiovascular exercise. If possible, secure gym membership, or you may also log on to YouTube to find great at home work out videos. Running is the best exercise to lose weight. Start by running at least 20 minutes per day (carry a stop watch). You don’t have to run 20 minutes start to finish. Once you start running, start the stop watch, if you get tired and feel like walking, stop the stop watch. But run for a total of 20 minutes.
Do push-ups as strength training exercises. Always aim for 30 minutes of work out per day.
© Dimitri Lyon and dimitrilyon.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dimitri Lyon and dimitrilyon.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.