The title makes it sound so easy and to some extent it is BUT you must come to terms with the fact that this is not some quick fix. You can’t lose some weight then go back to eating what you were eating before, it just doesn’t work that way. This is a lifestyle change……forever! “Whoooah!!” I can hear you thinking, “I’m not sure I’m up for that, who wants to go on a diet forever?”
You’re absolutely right, no-one does and that is exactly the point, this is NOT a diet. A diet implies something you are doing. You are going “ON” a diet. That implies a beginning and an end. So what happens when it ends? You just go back to eating loads of crap again and the weight and health issues all return. This is not like that. This is about making fundamental changes to the way you think and live for ever more, BUT it will still allow you to eat many of the things you love and enjoy, still have a few drinks and even enjoy a major blow out now and then. Read my previous post about consistency which outlines how being consistent in your eating and fitness allows you to still have fun.
So let’s cut to the chase. What do i need to eat, how do i need to eat and when etc? I will post a series of articles going into a lot more detail as this is and can be a very complex subject and much of it will depend to some extent on what your goals are ie losing a lot of weight or toning up and building muscle. For now let’s just cover some basics.
My personal philosophy and what works for me is to try to be good around 80% of the time. The way i do that is i eat as clean as possible from Monday through to Friday evening. Then depending on what’s happening socially i relax everything and eat/drink more of what i enjoy from Friday evening to Sunday evening. That doesn’t mean i go out of my way to binge, eat crap, shovel chocolate and crisps down my neck or drink gallons of beer. I’m still careful, but it just means if I’m going for a curry i eat what i want and have a few beers, or I’ll have a big Sunday roast with all the trimmings, possibly even an egg and bacon breakfast sometimes. If you cut everything out 7 days a week you simply WILL NOT stick to it. Don’t set yourself up to fail. By treating yourself a bit each week it makes the “being good” days much easier.
So what to eat and what not? Generally speaking it’s very simple and you all know the answer without me telling you. Eat fresh food as much as possible and avoid anything processed wherever it is possible. If it’s in a packet and you have to read the ingredients, calories, fat levels etc, it’s probably best to avoid it all together. Even if it says “low fat” or “low sugar” on the packet, trust me, it won’t be good for you.
When trying to lose weight you obviously need to cut your calorie intake and also limit the amount of Calorie dense and nutritionally poor foods. Packaged food always contains chemicals, preservatives, hidden sugar and bad “trans fats”. Simply by cutting out processed or packaged food as much as possible i guarantee you will become healthier and lighter. As much as you possibly can avoid sugar at all costs. Not only does it contain huge amounts of calories per weight but recent research suggests that refined sugar is possibly a direct cause of cancer as well as other illnesses such as diabetes. Just cutting your sugar intake by 75% will have a dramatic impact.
The good news is that the old belief that fat is bad for you has been proven to be wrong completely. In fact fats are essential and help you to shed calories faster and also converts to muscle quicker than other types of food. Generally speaking you need to increase your protein intake, increase your good fat intake and cut back a bit on Carbohydrates. In simple terms that means:
Good foods: Fresh meat- Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Lamb, some cuts of Beef. Fish – pretty much all fish is fine but also include some oily fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines etc as they contain Omega 3 oils which are very good for you. Egg’s – a few eggs a week are definitely something you should include in your diet. ALL vegetables and salad stuff but especially Brocolli, Cauliflower, Kale, dark leaved salads, Beetroot, Peppers, Tomato’s. Advocado is another MUST. Not only is it versatile and taste great but it contains loads of very healthy fats. On top of these pulses and beans such as lentils, kidney beans, black beans, Cannelloni beans etc are all good. Nuts of all types (almonds, brazil, cashew, walnut, hazelnut, peanut). You can now buy great organic Nut butters (variations on peanut butter) which contain a lot of calories but in small amounts are also really healthy and they are good calories. Use virgin Olive Oil for salad dressings and Coconut oil or (believe it or not, proper old fashioned full fat butter) to cook with. Cheese in small amounts is fine and real live yoghurt is also good. (Warning- read the labels in supermarkets. You will often see Greek “style” yoghurt. That is not the real thing). I use Skyr the Icelandic high protein yoghurt. In terms of fruits Berries (especially blueberries) are all good, apples and banana’s etc.
In terms of Carbs, you definitely still need them, it’s just how you get them that is important. Try to cut back on Bread as much as possible (weekends only and opt for a brown or wholegrain type). Similarly with pasta, you can still have it but cut back. Rice, again if possible opt for brown or wild rice, if you don’t like it you can still eat white but cut back the portions. Potatoes just now and again although sweet potato contains a lot of protein and is fine. Vegetable contain lots of carbs and are a great, low calories way of getting both fibre and carbs into your diet so load up on Brocolli, Cauliflower, Kale, Cabbage etc.
Finally to add some flavour and zing to all that fresh produce you definitely need to stock up your spice and herb cupboard. Garlic and Ginger are both great for you. Spices like Turmeric, Chilli, Cinnamon, Black Pepper are all great for you and add not only flavour but have all sorts of fantastic health benefits. I add many of the above to almost everything.
If you’ve just read the list I’m sure you’ll agree, it isn’t rocket science. We all know that fresh, non processed food is good and processed and packaged food is bad. You just need to change your mind set and approach to them.
A final warning note. Just as important as what you eat is what you drink. It is very very hard indeed to find drinks that don’t contain a huge amount of sugar and loads of chemicals that you just don’t want in your body. If you have 4 or 5 cups of tea/coffee a day with a couple of sugars in each one and a can of coke then that is hundreds of worthless calories in one day. Wherever possible avoid ALL fizzy drinks, either cut the sugar you have in tea and coffee to a minimum or just cut back on the number of cups per day. The same goes for alcohol. I love a drink, especially a glass of wine with a meal. Not long ago my wife and I were drinking a bottle of wine a night most nights and added beers and extra wine at the weekend. I’m not saying don’t drink but Monday to Friday try to avoid it as much as you can. It will save you thousands of calories a week AND is better for your health all round. Drink lots of water, 4-6 large glasses a day and if you find it boring squeeze some lemon in it or add some mint or ginger to change it up a bit.
I’m aware that this post is dragging on now so rather than prolong it my next post will go into some detail about how to actually apply this knowledge practically. What you can do on a day by day basis and will give some examples of the types of meals you can eat.
I’d welcome your comments and am happy to answer any questions you have.