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Sure, I could tell you exactly what to eat, but how realistic is that? Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Teach that man how to eat healthy, and that lifetime will be much longer.
So here is your meal plan. Some easy to follow rules that will teach you to make the best decisions for your body, and fuel you up right.
Calories are, by definition, energy. Calories fuel your body for everything you do: run, jump, walk, sleep, digest, blink, breathe. Everything.
But just like the type of gasoline you put in your car, the type of food you use to fuel your body is important to make sure your body runs at top performance.
When your body is running at it’s best, your metabolism is faster, your energy levels are higher (no need for that 3:00 pm sugar craving to keep you going) your workouts are easier and you sleep better. This means your body is under less stress, which in turn means you get sick less often and are less likely to develop life threatening diseases.
Sounds good, right? It all starts with your nutrition. Here is the meal plan everyone can, and should, follow:
- Eat every 3-4 hours. A steady supply of food gives your body long lasting fuel to keep you energized and your metabolism revved. Small meals are key to not consume too many calories through out the day.
- Always eat breakfast. It jump starts your metabolism and evens out your blood sugar, stopping cravings before they start.
- Eat as many whole, raw foods as you can. Fresh raw fruits and vegetables are key to getting vital nutrients for very few calories- cooking them causes them to lose some of their nutrients and water- but either way, they are a great choice. The more colorful, the better.
- Get protein from a variety of sources. A little bit of meat is fine, but animal products contain high levels of saturated fat, which can be hard on your heart. Getting protein from sources like non-fat dairy, tofu, nuts and nut butters will give you the same protein, but with healthy, unsaturated fats that are actually good for your heart.
- Choose only whole grains. You gotta have carbs, you need them, but processed carbs aren’t even close to cutting it. Processed carbs are literally processed to take out the good stuff: fiber, vitamins and minerals. Choose whole wheat or whole grain breads and pastas and brown rice instead of white.
- Ditch the sugar. Sugar is your body’s worst enemy. It spikes your blood sugar, causing energy crashes and cravings, and gunks up your organs. Skip it, and opt for natural sugars, like those in fruits.
- Don’t forget the liquids. Drink plenty of water all day long to flush out fat, improve energy and stay hydrated.
That’s it. Simple, huh? There’s your meal plan. Follow that bad boy, and your body will run better than you could ever imagine.
Usually celebrities are linked to wacky and weird diets secrets, like eating baby food, or only drinking tea made from exotic plants from counties no one has ever heard of, but not Miss Jennifer Aniston. In fact, I think she has given the best celeb diet advice of all time:
“I eat really well and I work out, but I also indulge when I want to. I don’t starve myself in an extremist way. You’re not taking away my coffee or my dairy or my glass of wine because I’d be devastated. My advice: just stop eating sh*t every day.” -Jennifer Aniston
Check out this battle between a typical morning Starbucks run and kettlebell swings, one of the best fat burning exercises around.
Place your bets, people, then click play.
It’s been a long day at work, and all you want to do is kick back with girls and hit up your favorite spot for happy hour to unwind. This in-between meal of drinks and appetizers, however, can put a major dent in your effort to drop the pounds if you aren’t careful.
Don’t fret: you can still unwind with your friends without undoing all your hard work, if you are smart about it.
- Be upfront with your friends. Let them know that you are trying to watch your intake, and ask them to support you in that. People tend to copy what their fellow diner’s behaviors, so saying it out loud will not only motivate you to keep your word, but might actually motivate your friends to follow your example.
- Skip your usual. Chalk it up to one of those weird things, but research shows you are more likely to order a second round if you are drinking your favorite drink, so mix it up. If you usually drink beer, order wine. You don’t have to order something you don’t like, just something different, which will make it easier to resist ordering more.
- Avoid sharing. A pitcher may be cheaper than ordering by the pint, but it’s harder to gauge how much you are actually drinking if your glass keeps getting topped off.
- Stand up to your bartender. If you are a frequent happy hour patron, chances are the staff knows it. The more comfortable they are with you, the more likely they are to pressure you into having another drink. Some will even bring you another round before you are finished with your first without asking- a trick a server friend of mine let me in on to rack up the bill. Just remember: bartenders are working. The higher your bill, the higher you will tip. Politely refuse, even if it’s already poured.
- Nix the mixed drinks. They can contain upwards of 700 calories, with all the sugary juices, calorie filled soda and multiple shots. Stick with wine or light beer, or if you really want a drink, get your favorite liquor with diet soda and wedge of lime for all the flavor and none of the calories.
- Skip the appetizers. Drinking dehydrates your body, which triggers your munchie reflex. It may be tempting to order cheap appetizers or happy hour specials to share, but rarely are they healthy or low-calorie. Even if you vow to only have a bite or two, alcohol lowers your inhibitions making your more likely to eat more than you intended, so it is best to wait for your healthy dinner at home. If your friends decide to buy a bunch and share, suggest the healthiest choice on the menu, and eat only off the ‘safe plate.’ Look for hummus plates, margherita pizzas, shrimp cocktail and broth based soups. It probably goes without saying, stay away from anything deep-fried, cheese coated and wrapped in bacon.
Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about giving up the things you enjoy- especially spending time with your friends. A few small tweaks will have you saving calories without sacrificing fun. Now that’s something to be happy about.
Cravings hit. They aren’t a side of weakness, they are actual, physical cravings your body gives you because it wants something. Isn’t that nice?
Sometimes you’ll have a water craving (thirst), or a food-in-general craving (hunger), or sometimes you will have a specific craving for a certain food. This means your body needs it and you can have it right?
Wrong. Usually when you have a craving, let’s for this example use sugar, because it is the most common, but it can also be a salty craving, or a crunchy craving, it’s because your body is out of whack.
Sugar cravings work thusly: you eat sugar, it dumps into your system, is burned quickly, depleting your energy. Your body needs energy quick, so it signals your brain to make you crave sugar, so you go get it, eat it, and get more energy quickly, which starts the cycle all over again. Sure, the glucose is used, but those calories remain. And are soon stockpiled after you’ve made continual trips to pantry for more cookies.
So what do you do? You have two options:
Give in and eat it- but the RIGHT way. If you are craving sugar, eat it all in one snack- don’t graze on sugar all day long. Knowing you will be able to have it will keep you from going nuts, but consolidating it into one 150 calorie snack will ensure you don’t overindulge, and keep your blood sugar in check.
Skip it. But how? My body is SCREAMING for it! Relax. You don’t need it, and cravings pass in a few minutes anyway, so all you have to do it resist. Go for a walk and get your endorphins going. Drink some water to fill your belly. Brush your teeth to freshen your mouth.
Cravings are real, but they aren’t life and death. You are bigger than some craving trying to derail you from your goals, so crush it with a strategy that works for you.
You are told all the time what not to eat, but no one tells you what you are supposed to eat. No added sugars, no trans fats, no processed carbs- but most people don’t even know how to look for those things- which causes them to trust the health claims on the labels of foods like cereals, crackers, and granola bars, which more often contain all of these unhealthy ingredients. A for effort, F for execution.
So, while it is important to learn how to spot these food pitfalls, sometimes you just need to be told what to do. So here is your No-Fuss, Fool-Proof Healthy Grocery List:
Pasta, whole grain
White fish (cod, halibut, tilapia)
Water packed tuna
Milk, low-fat or fat-free
Yogurt, low-fat or fat-free
Cottage cheese, low-fat or fat-free
Green and Herbal Tea
Fresh and dried herbs and spices
Notice what’s NOT on the list: no processed foods. No packaged foods. No foods with ingredient lists longer than the grocery list itself. Why? Because it’s garbage. Even if it shouts from the rooftops it is full of antioxidants, or fiber, or vitamins, or contains no fat, or MSG, or trans fat, if it has a box which is used to tell you those things, it’s still not food, it’s a science experiment disguised as food. Food comes from the Earth, or from an animal- not from a manufacturer. Stick with that, and there will be no question whether or not you are making good choices.
The idea of negative calorie foods has been around for a while. The idea is that certain foods are so low in calories and so hard for our bodies to digest, that you burn more calories trying to digest them than actually come in the food, so you can eat as much as you like and actually cause weight loss.
Common foods cited as being negative are water dense fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, celery, cabbage, lettuce, strawberries, zucchini and oranges.
If you’ve done Weight Watchers, these are the foods that are given zero point ratings, which means you can eat them all day long and they don’t really count.
But is this for real? Can you actually lose weight by eating more?
No food actually has a negative amount of calories, because all foods have some caloric value. The overall result from eating them, however, can lead to a negative calorie outcome.
That’s all well and good, but I don’t like labeling healthy fruits and veggies as ‘negative calories’ like they are some magic fat burner. Don’t expect to be able to burn off a piece of pizza with a few strawberries. The difference is almost negligible, and won’t result in measurable weight loss, especially if you do not eat healthy otherwise, or do not exercise.
Here’s why I don’t like this line of thinking: if everyone ate fruits and veggies till they were blue in the face, I would be the happiest person alive. We all know fruits and veggies are filled with tons of great vitamins, minerals and fiber, but eating them because you can stuff your face guilt-free and think it will help you lose weight isn’t the right mind-set to making healthy changes. The goal of living a healthy lifestyle is to learn to listen to your body and to eat in a way that fuels you right. Even though you are scarfing healthy foods, you are still pigging out because you can’t control your urge to eat. Finding a loophole that won’t make you gain weight isn’t truly getting healthy, because your mind isn’t in the right place.
By all means, eat as many fruits and veggies as you want, but don’t eat them in mass quantities to try and lose weight, or eat them in place of other nutritious food with the calories you need to maintain your health. You need calories, you just need them from the right sources.
There is no secret or magic tip to lasting weight loss.
You can’t take the easy way out.
You know my favorite source of negative calories? Exercise. A walk will burn more calories than trying to digest a stomach full of celery, and will also do wonders to increase you mood, energy level, and your health.
The phrase ‘cutting calories’ evokes visions of starvation and tiny portion sizes, but there are sneaky little ways to cut calories form the foods you are already eating that will help you drop the pounds without feeling deprived.
- Use one egg and 3 egg white instead of two whole eggs next time you make scrambled eggs. You won’t know the difference and you’ll save 60 calories per egg.
- Eat a turkey burger instead of beef. Less fat, less calories.
- Steam veggies instead of sauteeing them in oil. They stay crunchier that way, too.
- If you gotta have a bagel (whole wheat, of course) scoop out some of the filling.
- Order your latte non-fat. It tastes the same, quit lying to yourself to justify the whole fat.
- Don’t use butter to keep food from sticking. Always use non-stick spray.
- Use feta cheese instead of shredded- it’s more flavorful so you can use less and not notice.
- Eat baked potatoes instead of mashed. Yes, you can mash up the baked if you really want to, just don’t add anything extra.
- Order your salad with dressing on the side and dip your fork instead of dumping it on.
- Drink water mixed with Crystal Light instead of a sugary sports drink, and save over 100 calories.
Cutting calories doesn’t mean cutting out your favorite foods. You can still eat the same foods, and save calories by making tiny changes- that you won’t even notice.
I have a question regarding protein powder. I know a lot of people use it or add it to their meal. I was wondering if there is a benefit to using protein powder over eating say a piece of chicken or salmon? Which is better for the body soy or whey? Is it necessary to supplement a diet with protein powder? I have heard that protein powder isnt completely broken down in the body… is this true?
Would love to hear what you think!
Oh, protein. Everyone is obsessed with protein and getting more of it in their diet.
I need more protein! I drank a protein shake yesterday! And then a protein bar!
That’s great, but you had a scone from Starbucks for breakfast, so let’s focus on that.
Most people get more protein than they need in a day. Many think the more protein the better, but this is not. true. You only need a certain amount of protein per day, and anything beyond that will stored on your body for later, just like anything else you eat in excess.
It is recommended that adults get 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. To find out your body weight in kilograms, take your weight in pounds and divide that by 2.2.
Just as a reference, there are:
- 8 grams of protein in 1 cup of milk
- 7 grams in 1 egg
- 32 grams in 2 slices of pizza
- 24 grams in about 1/2 a can of tuna
- 30 grams in 1 chicken breast
So what are the best sources? It is always recommended to get your nutrients from food over supplements, because foods offer additional nutrients your body needs, plus many nutrients are more beneficial when they are consumed together, which is naturally occurring in most foods.
Many people choose to get their protein from non-meat sources, and meat if often high in saturated fat, which should be limited (which is why the Atkins diet puts so much stress on the body.)
As far as whey or soy goes, it’d a bunch of scientific jargon that no one should ever give themselves the headache of trying to figure out unless they have an Olympic weight lifting competition they are trying to get ready for. If this is you, read this. Notice it’s for body builders. He says it better than I ever could, even though it is definitely an opinionated piece.
Bottom line, get your nutrients from food. Don’t over think it. Protein powder gives you protein and calories, foods that contain protein, in almost all cases, give you those plus vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats, as well.
Simply cutting out fat isn’t going to melt away your body fat.
Cutting body fat has to do with all your food choices. cutting body fat has more to do with what you do eat, instead of what you don’t eat.
There are certain foods that have been proven to actually help your body burn fat. Luckily, they are all simple foods you can easily integrate into your diet.
The spotlight today is on: Spinach
Spinach is full of Magnesium and B vitamins which aid in all body functions, including your metabolism. Spinach is also full of iron, foliate and calcium which strengthens bones and teeth. It also contains tons of fiber which keeps you full for longer and spinach is also one of the lowest calorie foods around, at just 7 calories per cup.
Try it out:
Use baby spinach leaves to replace your nutritional devoid iceberg lettuce in salads.
Spinach is great in wraps and sandwiches.
Put spinach in juices and smoothies. You can’t taste it one bit.
Wilt some fresh spinach into pastas.
Use drained frozen spinach in soups and sauces.