What should you be eating?
Fad diets are everywhere at the moment and they’re big business. And they work!
You can’t doubt the effectiveness of these diets as the results speak for themselves but they always follow the same pattern; immediate, dramatic weight loss followed by a stall in progress and a resulting lack of motivation.
There are other problems with these diets as well:
Most of these diets involve a drastic change to one’s diet. Changing everything at once like this is a recipe for failure.
One reason for the (short term) success of these diets is that they are low in calories, too low! Eating this far below your maintenance calories will make you lose weight very fast initially but your body isn’t stupid and when it detects such a threat it goes into starvation mode, lowering your bodies’ metabolism, meaning you will inevitably reach a point where it’s very hard to lose weight no matter how low your calories are or how much exercise you do.
I recently looked at the nutritional information on a friend’s ‘protein’ shake from a well-known diet brand. First of all I put protein in quotations because it had 10g protein and 12g carbohydrates making it technically a Carb Shake. This aside, the shake cost £2.50 and was no bigger than a small carton of Ribena. At four of these a day it was working out to £280 PER MONTH!
So what can you do that will last?
This is where people tend to switch off because the answer is simple; eat a healthy balanced diet rich in essential proteins, essential fats and complex carbohydrates.
Eating whole foods instead of ready-made shakes will not only make you feel more full but it will provide you with all of the vitamins and minerals mother nature intended you to have that are equally as important for maintaining general health and a healthy metabolism.
But what does that look like in the real world?
It means combining these essential nutrients into meals that suit you, your lifestyle and your routine and there are endless ways to adapt these foods to suit you. You will find lots of different recipes and meal ideas on my website but let’s get back to basics and have a look at different types of essential macronutrients:
Essential Fats – These are important for many reasons but often overlooked is their importance in regulating hormones. Hormones regulate your metabolism among other things so getting plenty of healthy essential fats will have you covered hormonally and metabolically. You can get these from whole eggs, oils – coconut and extra virgin olive oil, peanut butter, red meat, avocado, cheese, oily fish and nuts. Your body needs both unsaturated and saturated fats but all in moderation.
Essential Proteins – Many people associate protein intake solely with building muscle but protein is crucial in the growth and repair of all cells. Your hair and nails growing is protein synthesis in action! Good sources of protein are lean meat like chicken and turkey, red meat, eggs (whites), fish, nuts and cottage cheese. A good rule of thumb is to include a small portion of protein with each meal.
Complex Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are your bodies’ main source of energy and the more active you are, the more carbs you will need. The difference between complex and simple carbs is their rate of digestion. Complex carbs will take longer to digest, giving you a more steady supply of energy over a longer period of time without a ‘carb-crash’ afterwards. Simple carbs are broken down a lot quicker, giving a shorter blast of energy but quite often leaving you feeling lethargic after due to the spike in insulin.
Good sources of complex carbs are sweet potato, brown rice, porridge oats, wholewheat pasta and wholemeal bread.
Simple carbs are certainly still acceptable but in moderation, the majority of fruits are made up of simple carbohydrates but they are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants and vital for a healthy, balanced diet and also a good source of fibre along with vegetables which will keep your digestive system healthy.
Most importantly, make it sustainable. Don’t over-complicate things or you will never stick to it in the long run. Just make small progressive changes and try to spend a small amount of time each day preparing fresh food and keep everything in moderation. It will taste better and you’ll feel better and you can still enjoy a treat once in a while guilt-free.