Many people hit the gym in the New Year ready to shed the pounds, and although exercise is an important piece of weight management, the true key to weight loss is what you eat.
The concept of “a calorie is a calorie” is worth taking a look at. Many people have the perception that weight loss equals calories burned minus calories consumed. And that may work in the short term, but if you are looking for long-term results, the source of the calories is important. After all, eating 1,200 calories of junk or processed food yields very different results compared to eating 1,200 calories of balanced nutrition. Here are some important aspects to consider.
Tips For Healthy Food Choices
Good fats: High-quality fats from avocados, fish such as salmon, and nuts and seeds should have a place in your diet. The fats in these foods will help keep you full and satisfied longer. This will help prevent over-eating, which will help you restrict your calories for weight loss.
Cut the sugar and the cravings: Americans on average consume 250 grams of sugar per day (which is 10 times the recommended amount). Not only does consuming this much sugar lead to weight gain, but it is also associated with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and gout, and it has even been linked to cancer.
The next time you “need” chocolate, take a moment to tune in to your body. Notice your emotions. Food cravings are often related to mood, but can also alert you that your body wants to correct a nutrient imbalance. When you feel the craving, try eating colorful meals of fresh food. A mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats helps balance blood sugar levels and provides lasting energy. Try drinking a full glass of water to see if your body was really craving hydration. Avoid highly sweet or artificial foods designed to trigger cravings. Food cravings tend to last 10-15 minutes, so wait before responding to them.
Portion sizes: Eating at restaurants makes it easy to overeat, especially when they offer all-you-can-eat buffets and serve overflowing plates of food. Managing the size of your portions is key to maintaining a healthy weight. When eating at restaurants, get into the habit of taking half of your meal home, and when eating at a buffet, use a smaller-size plate and skip that trip for seconds. Having handy examples of portion sizes is a helpful tool for controlling your portions. Here are some examples of reasonable portions:
Protein – 2 to 3 servings per day
Healthy fats / oils – 2 servings per day
Calcium-rich foods – 3 servings per day
Complex carbohydrates – 3 servings of starches and 7 to 8 servings of vegetables/ fruits per day
One serving equals:
Deck of cards = 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, poultry or pork
Rounded handful (only in palm) = ½ cup of rice, pasta, cut fruit
Four dice = 1 ounce natural cheese
Baseball = apple, orange
Thumb tip = 1 tsp butter
Computer mouse = potato
Golf ball = 2 tbsp nut butter
Meal replacement: Do you run out the door before eating breakfast? Or do you get caught up with daily chores and before you know it you are devouring a bag of chips? If you have no time for a healthy meal, consider a meal replacement. A high-quality protein shake can be made ahead and consumed on the go. Whey protein, such as Pathway Whey Protein, contains all of the essential amino acids in biologically significant amounts. The whey protein concentrate used in this formula is derived from grass-fed cattle, does not contain any synthetic hormones such as rBGH, and is produced through an ion-exchanged, ultra filtration process that yields the highest level of protein and amino acids.
Photo from here, with thanks.