Last week we looked at the importance of making one change at a time in order to achieve health or fitness targets. Today I’ll concentrate on one of the most important aspects of any weight-loss programme: Nutrition.
It seems obvious that in order to lose weight, the first area that needs to be addressed is our daily food intake. And yet, so many people seem reluctant to tackle this aspect of their lives in a meaningful way.
The fact is that healthy weight-loss is quite simple and yet, it can appear very complicated. The simple part is the type of food our body needs to survive and allow us to live energetic and healthy lives. The complicated side is why we don’t do it, and this brings up factors like stress, motivation, as well as emotional and hormonal issues. We’ll cover the hard part another time but today let’s keep it simple.
There is much confusion surrounding what constitutes “The Best Diet”. Shops devote acres of shelf-space to books offering seemingly contradictory advice : Low-Fat, Low-Carb, High-Protein, Atkins, South Beach, and Metabolic are examples of eating plans that leave some people more confused than motivated.
The problem is that although each of these diets has worked for somebody, not every plan will work for everybody. Another problem is that people tend to take the parts of a certain programme that they like and then discard the less appealing bits.
So what should you do if you want to lose weight? The following are general guidelines that will work for MOST people. But please be aware of the concept of Biochemical Individuality. This is a fancy way of saying “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”
- Reduce Calories: A calorie is a unit of measurement of energy. We take in calories when we eat and drink, and we burn calories when we move. If we take in more than we burn, the excess is stored as body-fat. The following example shows why exercise alone will not achieve results.According to McDonald’s Nutrition Spotlight website, a Big Mac, Large Fries and Regular Coke contain 1250 calories. Walking briskly at 4mph burns between 235 and 345 calories per hour depending on your body weight. If walking is your only regular form of exercise, you’re going to have to spend a long time on your feet in order to cancel out a meal of that size. As a very rough guide you can take your target weight in pounds, multiply it by 10 and that’s the amount of calories per day you should be eating. So if you want to be 10 stone (140 lbs) you eat approx 1400 calories. However, a gradual reduction of calories is safer and more sustainable for long term weight control.
- Eat Fresh, Whole Food: Fresh, locally grown organic food is the best option. Unfortunately it’s not within everybody’s budget but even non-organic meat, fruit and vegetables, once properly cleaned and prepared, are far better options than processed, micro-waved and fast-food meals.
- Eat every 2.5-3 hours: If you eat small portions of healthy food you never put your body into starvation/ fat-storing mode and also avoid feeling famished and obliged to demolish that packet of biscuits with your cup of tea at 7.30pm.
The area of nutrition is too large and individualised to cover in one article and I will return to it’s many aspects over the coming months, but by following today’s 3 very simple tips you will make huge improvements to both your health and your waistline.