The word "diet" does not appeal to me; it sets you up for failure. It is because diets are not realistic. As soon as you get off of them, you tend to gain all of the weight back again.
The South Beach Diet, Zone Diet and Atkins Diet all can be effective in losing weight, but making them part of your daily lifestyle can be difficult. Not only that, but they are not exactly healthy to follow for long periods of time. "Fad" diet characteristics include: temporary, rigid, deprivation, unsuccessful, hungry, negative mindset, sluggish, unrealistic and unhealthy.
Successful weight loss programs require basic changes in lifestyle versus unrealistic diets. That is why I recommend following general guidelines in how you eat each day. This way you are still getting the desired results and they will be with you to stay.
Initially you can start off with a diet, but after you have reached your goal you should follow a more general nutrition plan. I have outlined how to "diet" effectively until you are ready to maintain your ideal bodyweight.
The expression "you are what you eat" could not be truer for someone that wants to look good and feel good. How many times have you seen someone overweight in line of a grocery store with their cart full of potato chips, pastries, soft drinks and beer? It is no mystery why that person is not in good shape. The food choices we make determine how successful we are at achieving health and fitness.
"Out of sight out of mind" is another appropriate phrase that can be used in following a nutrition plan. Have your cupboards filled with healthy foods. Don't buy things that are high in saturated fat or hydrogenated/partially-hydrogenated oils. Minimize or eliminate refined foods and ones with high sugar content, such as: fast foods, soft drinks, ice cream, pizza, fruit juice, pastries, most breakfast cereals and instant oatmeal.
Fast Food Articles:
Mexican and Chinese food contain lots of sodium, so limit your amount of these type of foods as well. Salt makes you hold water; therefore you gain weight and can take on a "puffy" appearance. Not only that, it raises your blood pressure which can lead to serious health problems. So be sure to limit your salt intake in general.
It is important to eat smaller meals throughout the day, every 2-3 hours. This way you boost your metabolism and have sufficient blood sugar levels throughout the day.
If you only eat two or three times a day, your metabolism slows down to a crawl. So you want to stoke your fire with smaller meals throughout the day which will allow you to burn more calories with an increased metabolic rate. A good example of this is a cow that grazes all day long; they are super lean with very little fat on their bodies. A walrus is the alternative, they eat twice a day and carry lots of blubber on their bodies.
If your mom told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, guess what - she was actually right. Breakfast literally "breaks" the "fast" that your body goes into while you sleep during the night. This jump starts your metabolism and gets your body primed and ready to burn calories all day long. Be sure to have a breakfast that includes carbohydrate sources.
- Carbohydrates are crucial to how you look and function. You should have your carbohydrates earlier in the day and taper them off in the evening hours. Any carbs that you do not use as energy will be stored into fat. So it makes sense to have them earlier to fuel your daily activities.
Complex forms of carbohydrates should be eaten early in the day, because they take longer to break down and will provide you with prolonged energy. Complex sources include: brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain cereal, whole wheat pasta and bread, yams and legumes. Simple and fibrous carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, would be a better choice for later in the day. These carbs are burned off quickly and will not be as likely to be stored as fat.
- The glycemic index or GI of carbohydrates is important to know, various carbohydrates act differently with our bodies. The GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels and therefore insulin levels. The quicker carbohydrates are metabolized, the higher the glycemic index.
The ranking of white bread is the highest with a GI of 100. When high GI foods increase your insulin levels, you will be more likely to store them as fat.
- In general, simple and fibrous carbs have low glycemic index levels. Some simple forms to limit because of their GI would be: pineapple, raisins, watermelon and corn.
- Your blood glucose rises and falls when you eat a meal containing carbs. How high it rises and how long it remains high depends on the quality of the carbs (the GI) and the quantity. Glycemic load or GL combines both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate in one number and should be considered. It is the best way to predict blood glucose values of different types and amounts of food. The formula is:
GL = (GI x the amount of carbohydrate) divided by 100.
An example of this concept would be eating a slice of watermelon. Since it has a high GI but small quantity it would have a low GL. However, if you had five apples you would be consuming a high GL regardless of the low GI. You can think of GL as the amount of carbohydrate in a food adjusted for its glycemic potency.
Glycemic Index Articles:
Not only are GI and GL important for fat loss, but consuming low GI carbs have other health benefits. Low GI carbs reduce the risk of heart disease and blood cholesterol levels. Low GI carbs reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer. Further, Low GI carbs prolong physical endurance.
The only time you want to consume high GI carbs is post-workout. This is the time when you want to spike your insulin levels in order to shuttle nutrients into muscle cells to promote recovery. You can find internet sites and books that give you a list of foods with their glycemic index and loads.
- Protein is the foundation of your entire body. It makes up your muscles, hair, skin, bones, tendons, etc. It is important that active individuals in progressive resistance training programs intake adequate amounts of protein.
As a basic guideline, everyone should consume at least 1.4-1.6g of protein per kg of bodyweight each day. Good sources include; chicken breasts, lean turkey burger, egg whites, whey protein, fish (cod, salmon, haddock, and tuna), lean steak or beef, and low-fat dairy products (cottage cheese, milk, and cheese).
- Egg whites are preferred over whole eggs because the yolks contain the saturated fat and cholesterol. If you have canned fish, yellow fin tuna is a wiser choice over albacore - being lower in mercury levels.
- Fat is the third macronutrient; it contains the most densely packed energy stores. One gram of fat contains nine calories, where as one gram of protein or carbohydrate contains only four calories. Therefore, it makes sense to monitor your fat intake. It should not exceed 30% of your daily caloric intake. It's not uncommon for Americans to eat a diet containing as much as 50% fat.
It is important to not completely limit your fat intake though. Fat serves several roles in the body. It is a plentiful energy source and provides protection and insulation. Further, it is part of cell membrane structures and used to make hormones, vitamin D and bile. They are also essential for carrying fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D, and K) into the body.
- Fat (or lipids) are ingested in two forms, saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products and should be minimized. Many diseases are linked to excessive intakes of dietary fat such as these. Saturated fat increases cardiovascular risk factors- such as hypertension and high cholesterol. They can also contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis.
Unsaturated fats have at least one (monounsaturated) or more (poly-unsaturated) double bonds. Hence, they are not "saturated" with hydrogen atoms. Your fat intake should come primarily from these sources. Good sources include; flaxseed oil, nuts (peanuts, almonds, and cashews), peanut butter, extra virgin olive oil and lecithin.
A Well Balanced Diet
I recommend a nutritional almanac to learn the values of the foods you eat. That and reading labels will give you more knowledge in making smart choices in the foods you consume. This way you won't second guess yourself in your nutrition plan.
I believe that after following these basic guidelines you will be on course to achieving a healthy body and fit image. The main thing to do is be consistent with your approach. There is no secret to getting to your desired goal, being consistent is key.
Dr. Di Pasquale
You want to incorporate a well balanced diet consisting of protein, carbohydrates, and fat that will represent all of the five food groups. Eat less of some foods and more of the others. Obviously you don't want to load up on grains, especially later in the day, because they may be stored as fat.
Have lots of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Dairy products can be a good source of calcium, but many people are lactose intolerant and are better off using a supplement to get the daily calcium requirements.
I do recommend you eat healthy in moderation. It is all right to have a cheat meal once or twice a week. If you follow a certain regimen everyday, you are setting yourself up for failure. It is good to be practical in your eating habits, it's not like you are not going to have pizza ever again. You just can't have it everyday if you want to achieve results.
Rewarding yourself every now and then with a cheat food is a good idea. It will give your mind and body a break from the routine and then you will be ready to get on course once again.
The last thing I want to mention is water intake. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important to your health. 65 percent of the human body is water and 72% of muscle constitutes water.
Drinking plenty of water will flush the toxins out of your system, such as free radicals. Failure to drink enough water can lead to dehydration. Signs and symptoms include; fatigue, headache, muscle weakness, and dizziness. To avoid this, drink a glass (8 oz.) of water with each meal and between each meal. Hydrate before, during and after exercise. Depending on your body weight, you should drink approximately 10-13 glasses of water a day (80-104 oz.)
I have constructed a sample day that incorporates the basic nutritional guidelines mentioned above. The quantities can be increased or decreased depending on your body weight. We will get more into specific fat loss strategies later. Substitutions of food sources can be made as well; just be sure to follow the guidelines outlined.
Meal Menu Sample
- Meal 1: 7:00 AM
- 6 egg whites (hard boiled or scrambled)
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 1 piece of fruit (apple, grapefruit, etc.)
- Coffee or Green tea
- 1 1/2 scoops whey protein
- 1-2 scoops maltodextrin (high GI carbohydrate)
- 6 oz. salmon fillet/lean steak
- 2 cups mixed green salad
- 1 tbsp low fat dressing
- 1 serving berries (strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
Meal 2: 10:00 AM
Meal 3: 12:30 PM
Meal 4: 3:30 PM
Meal 5: 6:00 PM (Post-workout)
MEAL 6: 8:00 PM
Meal 7: 10:30 PM