Almost daily we are bombarded with so many conflicting ideas on how to lose weight that it can be difficult to separate what’s real from what’s purely money driven scams by commercial interests.
I notice people everywhere continually struggling with questions like, “Are we supposed to give up red meat or eat more of it”?
Some would have us believe we should go back to living like our hunting-and-gathering ancestors or embrace modern life by ordering our food — pre-measured, pre-cooked, and pre-calorie-counted — through the mail or by home delivery?
Unfortunately we need to come to grips with the scientifically proven facts that, in the long term, diets don’t work.
But despite all the confusion, there are five basic dietary principles you can always rely on, no matter what the current diet craze is and what the multi-national marketers are trying to get you to believe.
The following are five tried-and-true strategies that are grounded in irrefutable scientific evidence……..and best of all, if you stick to them then it is guaranteed to work.
1. Limit Your Sugar Intake
Sugar does a real number on your body. It’s not called “Sweet Poison” for nothing.
If you haven’t seen it yet, then now is the perfect time to watch “That Sugar Film – Official Trailer”.
It will change forever the way you think about “healthy” food.
Also watch this Toxic Sugar video and discover why sugar in the diet is driving the obesity crisis?
Another question I get asked time and again, “Is fructose bad for your health?” This article gives you all you need to know.
Also, according to Prevention, the fructose in added sugar which goes into processed foods sends signals to your liver causing it to store fat more efficiently, which in turn can lead to liver disease.
Not a good result for your longevity and health.
Sugar can fool your brain into thinking you’re hungry when you aren’t, causing you to pack on extra calories you don’t need.
Studies have shown a strong link between excess sugar consumption and heart disease.
Furthermore, since sugar stimulates the reward centers in your brain, it can turn you into a sugar junkie, eating more in order to renew that feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.
The single best thing you can do for your health (and your figure) is to rid your eating habits of as much added sugar as possible. This I recommend above all else.
Sugar is hidden in a plethora of foods, so you’ll have to do your homework.
There is added sugar in coffee creamers, salads dressings, fruit juices, bread, cakes and biscuits, and all sauces plus many processed foods in a box such as breakfast cereals (these are really serious offenders yet are marketed as being so good for you), soups, pasta dishes and much more.
Here’s a quick and very important sugar tip that will help you and your family eat a lot less sugar.
Learn to read the product information panel on the packet. The right-hand column is the measure per 100gms contained in the contents. Go to sugar; try and keep your purchases to products containing 4gms per 100gms or less. That is the equivalent to 1 teaspoon per 100gms.
And don’t be fooled by grams per serve as many manufacturers use very small serves to try and fool you into thinking it is low in sugar.
Your best bet is to cook for yourself using whole foods so you know exactly what’s going into your meals.
2. Drink Plenty of Water.
No libation quenches the body’s need for hydration more perfectly than water, and best of all, it’s calorie-, fat-, sodium- and sugar-free.
Harvard Health Publications tells us water supports digestion, improves muscle recovery, helps deliver nutrients to the body, maintains blood pressure and heart rate, and helps control your calorie intake.
Ditch your soft drinks/sodas (including diet sodas) and alcohol, bottled fruit juices, pre-made smoothies, lemonade and just drink water. If you don’t like plain old water, you can add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, sliced cucumbers or strawberries, or mint or basil leaves.
If you prefer a touch of zing, drink carbonated water. Don’t be discouraged just because you initially don’t love water. You’ll find that the more you drink water, the more you’ll crave it.
In no time at all, those sugary drinks you were so used to will taste sickeningly sweet, and for one good reason: they ARE sickeningly sweet. It’s amazing how your palate will change.
3. Eat Complete Protein.
Protein is highly beneficial to your diet because it makes you feel satiated (which will stop those cravings for empty calories) and helps your body build and repair muscle.
It also gives your metabolism a jolt, which allows you to burn more calories throughout the day than you would otherwise.
To get the biggest bang for your protein buck, reach for complete protein as often as you can. Complete proteins are those containing the nine amino acids that the body can’t make on its own and therefore must obtain from outside sources.
Complete proteins are found in milk, eggs, beef, poultry, fish, and lamb.
If you don’t eat meat, you can combine foods to create complete proteins, such as Greek yogurt with walnuts, quinoa with soy beans and brown rice with green peas.
Read this article to find out more about Complete and Incomplete Proteins.
4. Eliminate Processed Foods.
The only good thing about processed foods is …well, nothing really.
Processed foods are packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup (very bad), saturated fats, and walloping amounts of sodium.
These are calorie-dense foods with almost nonexistent nutritional value, loaded with chemicals designed to make them last longer than nature ever intended……food to last and with names no-one can even spell and Grandma has never heard of.
They’re also engineered to make the pleasure centers of your brain go off like pinball machines so you’ll come back for more, more, more. And you know what that means……yep, you got it in one – more kilos, kilos, kilos straight to your belly.
Weed all these empty foods out of your diet completely.
Instead, eat whole foods, do your own cooking, and only visit restaurants and cafes that cook with whole foods. Learn to shop at Farmers Markets will be a big help too.
5. Eat Healthy Fats.
The word “fat” is almost a swear word in today’s culture. And it fools many people.
Here’s a good example…..take low-fat Greek yoghurt. It has way more sugar than its full fat half-brother. Check it out next time you are in the dairy aisle at your local supermarket.
I don’t eat “low fat” and you know why? If you take out fat from a natural whole food you are taking out flavour so it has to be replaced to be palatable.
So what do they add to boost the flavour?
Sugar and salt of course.
However, unsaturated fats, or good fats, are a vitally important element of any healthy diet.
Here’s just one interesting fat fact about the brain from Psychology Today:
“Approximately 60 percent of your brain matter consists of fats that create all the cell membranes in your body. Let’s review: The good fat in your brain matter creates all the cell membranes in your body! If your diet is loaded with bad fats, your brain can only make low-quality nerve cell membranes that don’t function well; if your diet provides the essential, good fats, your brain cells can manufacture higher-quality nerve cell membranes and influence positively your nerve cells’ ability to function at their peak capacity.”
In proper portions, they provide the body with clean energy, keep you feeling full and satisfied, lower bad cholesterol levels, raise healthy cholesterol levels, and prevent heart disease.
Healthy fats are abundant in a Mediterranean Diet which contains plenty of fatty fish, seeds, nuts, avocado, and olive oil. Remember though, fat is still fat.
If you eat too much of it, you’re going to gain weight.
I’m sure you will have noticed by now, fad diets come and go with regular monotony for good reason……..they simply don’t work in the long term.
It’s far better to rely on rock-solid evidence, your own motivation, and medically sound advice when creating a diet plan. That way you’ll lose weight slowly and effectively while restoring your body’s health and wellness.
And one last tip for weight loss before I go: In his 2000 book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Michael Gladwell makes the case that “small incremental changes can reach a point where they tip to unleash a flood of success.”
Cheers – John – Your Active Ageing Coach and Activist.
P.S. Help a friend towards better health…….like and share. Thanks.
P.P.S. If you are having trouble with your lifestyle choice then keep this in mind: “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.”