After a quick search of “diet” followed by “definition” on Google, two definitions pop up. One is society’s definition of a diet; “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.” The other, is the true definition; “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” What’s your definition?
I’m trying to convince you to go with the second definition and here’s why. Diets shouldn’t be restrictive. People have to give up the foods they love rather than focusing their attention on foods that will benefit them. And trust me, there’s a difference. Just look at the popular Whole 30 diet. The diet says to “eat real food”, but then shortly after lists legumes as foods you shouldn’t eat for 30 days. I’m scratching my head – How does this make sense? The point is that fad diets like to list the foods they don’t want you to eat and say little about what they do want you to eat. Most of the weight loss comes from the low-caloric intake that these diets suggest. Another example is the Optifast program, a clinical weight-loss solution that strictly holds individuals to an 800 calorie-per-day diet. I can assure you that any 800 calorie-per-day diet is going to help you experience weight loss. You don’t need to buy any special products to make this happen. So, as a tool to help those trying to lose weight, I’ve decided to list some bullet points for healthy dieting. Be sure to check out some of my future posts where I’ll talk more about the foods you SHOULD be eating.
- Focus on the number of calories you consume
If you restrict your calories, you’re going to lose weight. You can get an accurate measure of this by looking at your resting metabolic rate, level of activity, and the thermic effect of the foods you consume. However, that makes things more complicated than it has to be. A simple way to do it is to track your calories using an app such as My Fitness Pal for a week. Once you have an idea of what your typical week looks like, take the average number of calories consumed across those seven days. When you have that number, decrease it for weight loss (I suggest 500-750 calories a day for roughly 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week). It’s a simple solution: the less calories you consume, the more weight you’ll lose. However, going too low puts you at risk for health consequences that can often be worse than being overweight. If you ever feel like you’re hungry, energy levels are low, and/or you’re fatigued throughout the day from diet rather than lack of sleep, it’s a sign that you should take a closer look at the calories you are consuming.
1 lb lost = 3,500 KCal deficit
If, on average, you consume 2,800 KCal/day…
Weight Loss (1lb/week) = 2,800 KCal/Day – 500 KCal/Day = 2,300 KCal/Day
After 12 weeks, you’ve lost 12 pounds. Way to go!
- Look closely at your macro-nutrients
I have a lot of issues with the dietary guidelines. If you are focusing on weight loss and have healthy kidneys, your protein intake should likely be higher for the fact that it will keep you satiated longer so you avoid splurging during snack time. When looking at fats, focus on healthy fats from natural, whole foods such as nuts and unprocessed fish. It’s great to get carbohydrates in your body prior to exercise and immediately after, but other than that sugars don’t have a place in your diet. Look for high-fiber carbohydrates as opposed to high sugar carbs. My general rule of thumb is to increase protein and decrease carbohydrates. A ratio of carbohydrates/fats/proteins should be roughly 25/35/35 (that only adds up to 95% of your daily calories, so the last five are dependent on the foods you enjoy). If you drink alcohol, remember those calories don’t really fit into your macro-nutrients, but they are calories nonetheless. Those can be your additional 5% of calories, but I suggest getting that extra 5% from real food.
- Include the foods you enjoy
I can’t express how much I love my Grandma’s pasta. If I had to choose my last meal tomorrow, this would most definitely be it. The maiden name Bertolami itself tells the story on just how delicious this dish is. Good news is you don’t have to give these types of foods up to alter your diet. It’s all about moderation. If you take away the foods you enjoy the most, you’ll become miserable. Old friends will judge you and you’ll get tired of your new, “health-conscious” friends always ordering kale salads and weighing their foods at public eateries (I literally know a guy who used to bring a food-scale to public places).
- Implement the 90/10 rule
Remember, it is totally normal and okay to crave a donut every once in a while. Just try as best as you can to incorporate more healthy foods. The 90/10 rule means if you eat nine consecutive healthy meals, you’re allowed a sloppy one to satisfy whatever craving you may have. Obviously, we can increase this to 95/5 or even 99/1, but the way your body looks will not justify the way you feel if you don’t take time to enjoy the foods you love.
Granted, I don’t think exercise is a good tool for weight loss (after every H.I.I.T session I do, I’m immediately hungry). However, using exercise to burn a few excess calories and speed the metabolism could be all the difference in burning an extra pound each week. Which type of exercise is best? If you said High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T), you’re spot on. These type of workouts are convenient and allow the body to burn a few hundred calories in a short period of time. Plus, your muscles will continue to burn calories after you’re done working out as opposed to steady-state cardio training (i.e. treadmill walking, elliptical, cycling, etc.), where your body can recover fairly quickly.
For more tips, feel free to reach out to me. I’m always open to helping individuals better themselves by focusing more on diet and exercise. Until then, chao! Pun intended.