We often discuss “The Big 3″ components of a successful beginners workout for weight loss and fat loss program. Adhering to a healthy food guide is certainly a critical one. Your strength training workouts and interval workouts are also important. But I will say this with absolute certainty. It doesn’t matter how great your workouts are. If your nutrition plan isn’t up to snuff, your weight loss efforts will NOT succeed. There is an old saying. “You can never out-train a bad diet.” So true, so true.
A healthy food guide is a huge topic. There are so many things to discuss. So I’ll make this a quick overview of the new things I’ve learned about nutrition and weight loss/fat loss over the previous few years. Here we go.
FIND AN EXPERT MENTOR
It’s more important than ever to find an expert nutritionist to help us with our healthy food guide. I thought had a pretty good idea about healthy nutrition. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The food industry has many of us completely hoodwinked about what is nutritious and healthy and what isn’t. Fat-free this. All-natural that. 100% whatever. Low-fat everything. Most of this stuff is manufactured junk with ingredients that keep us fat and chemicals that I can’t even pronounce.
The expert I was lucky enough to find is Isabel de los Rios and her Diet Solution plan. This product completely revamped my entire approach to nutrition. I learned more about healthy eating in one day than in the rest of my life put together. DSP is worth every penny, and a whole lot more. And I am always on the lookout for new ideas.
EAT REAL FOOD
What’s real food? Lean meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, healthy fats,and some grains. That’s it. Lean Cuisine is not real food . Neither is Jenny what’s-her-name. Look at the ingredient labels on just about anything that comes in a box, jar, bag or package. You’ll see refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, sodium, chemical preservatives, and very unhealthy fats. This stuff is obviously horrible for us, contributing to obesity, bad cholesteral, and who knows what else.
A quick note about fad diets. We all know they don’t work. Maybe we have some short-term success with weight loss, but the weight always seems to come back. Ever been there? I surely have. I want my weight loss efforts to be safe and PERMANENT. I am learning nutrition habits that will keep me safely at my desired weight for good.
LEARN TO COOK
Horrifying, isn’t it? Let’s face it, if you are committed to eating real food, you are going to have to cook it. Popping a frozen dinner into the microwave or picking up a bucket of fried chicken isn’t going to get you to your weight loss goals.
Take heart. None of us has to be transformed into Julia Childs. Cooking healthy is very often quite simple. And you don’t have to slave over a hot stove every day. In fact, I can cook for pretty much a whole week in just a few hours. Put some in the fridge and some in the freezer. It works great for me.
Another terrific mentor I found is Dave Ruel and his Metabolic Cooking. These recipes are so simple to make, anyone can do it. The results are delicious and extremely healthy.
CALORIE AWARENESS AND PORTIONING
Don’t panic. I am not suggesting that we COUNT every calorie. But I am strongly recommending that you be AWARE of the caloric intake of everything you eat. Be sure to measure your portions as well. Many very healthy foods that we should be eating are also high in calories. We want the nutrients, but we must be aware of how our caloric intake is being affected.
Here is a good example – raw cashews. They are really good for you, and I love them. I could eat a whole bag of cashews (and I have). But I now know that 1 oz. (approx 1 handfull) of cashews has 155 calories. How many calories are in a bag of cashews? 800? 1200? Who knows? But I do know this. I will NOT maintain my healthy weight by firing down 1200 calories worth of cashews in one sitting. But I can enjoy 1 serving of my favorite nuts each and every day. Along with an apple or pear, it’s a terrific and filling snack.
Apply the same idea to everything you eat. Eat healthy real foods, be aware of calories, and measure your portions accordingly.
I must mention that my concern about calories differs greatly from the Diet Solution Plan approach. In fact, I think Isabel might croak if she knew one of her most dedicated disciples measured calories. In a nutshell, DSP shows foods as protein, carbs, and fats. The meal plans allocate units of these three food types as appropriate. So dinner might be 2 proteins, 1 carb, and 1 fat. All foods are classified in one of these 3 categories, so it’s easy to pick your foods and measure amounts according to DSP guidelines.
This works great until you want to try new recipes like soups or casseroles that might contain protein, carbs, and fats. How do you allocate your food categories when all three are mixed together? I make these types of recipes a lot, so I have moved away from allocating proteins, carbs, and fats. Instead, when I try a new recipe, I take the time to calculate calories and portion sizes. It’s real easy to do, and I keep a record so I don’t have to mess with it when I use the recipe again.
Now I know that my fabulous sweet potato casserole has 260 calories for a 1 cup serving. Perfect.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
This was a tough one for me, and I resisted it fiercely. Maybe it had to do with screwing up. When I deviated from my plan (which we all will do), having it in writing made it more of a failure. How ridiculous is that. Who cares? When, I started writing down my meal plan every morning, my habits improved drastically. I have a good healthy food guide for the day. I don’t always stick to it verbatim, but I usually do. When I write my plan down, I am way more likely to stick to it.
Daily meal planning is so easy, it only takes a minute. I know what food I have on hand. Just write down your food items (with portion sizes – important) and what times you are eating. I don’t use any fancy forms, just a simple spiral notebook. This process helps immensely. You would be making a mistake by blowing it off.
Well, I guess that’s enough lunatic nutritional ranting for now. There are so many topics to discuss that involve a healthy eating guide, but these have been the most influential for me. I hope you will stay tuned, and please leave a comment with your thoughts. Check out Diet Solution Plan and Metabolic Cooking. You may find them as helpful as I have.