Whether you want to accept it or not, diet could be the make-or-break factor in your weight-loss plateau. Anyone who has ever struggled with losing weight and worked hard to overcome it and maintained successfully their goal weight has had to do the inevitable-assess and design their diet. Whoever said “staying fit is 80% diet and 20% exercise” deserves an award for putting it so simply. If you don’t put the right type and amount of fuel in your gas tank, how can you expect your car to run at its best? Similarly, a body with poor diet will be difficult to not only operate, but to change for the better. Years of bad eating habits have been known to promote certain diseases and make it easier as we age to break bones, gain weight, and stop important hormones in our bodies from regulating and working properly. Naturally, we then turn to medicine and drugs with millions of side effects to cover the problem and possibly create a new one
Unfortunately, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. I used to be guilty of saying “I’ll just work off this pizza and Coke later when I go for a run”, and not only did meals like that make me feel bloated, weighed down and too tired to work out later, but even if I did make it to the gym that day, it would literally take hours to burn off the calories I just ate and I definitely would not want to spend more than an hour or two at the gym (much less, running for that long!) Sure, there are people who have thin frames and it seems like all they eat is crap, drink soda all day and it doesn’t seem fair, but don’t go and pat them on the back just yet. There’s a huge difference in having skinny fat and being skinny fit. Those same thin-framed people may be lucky enough that they use the amount of energy they take in each meal and stay small, but when high caloric meals and lots of sugar are ingested, if not used immediately, they’re stored right where we don’t want them (our hips, face, belly, and of course, our butts). When the body has a lot of fat, it weighs less than a tight, firm, and toned body of muscle, but likely will take up more room and appear bulkier. Therefore, it’s possible for a person to lose weight, but increase in size because the muscle might be lost and energy stores are converted to fat. People who choose to be skinny fit learn to manage their weight and diet by drinking tons of water, visualizing the nutrition they get from their food, and seeing how it will benefit them. Health-conscious people will view their food as the source of fuel and energy they need to not only get through the day, but to stay active, and recover after energy depletion by understanding the makeup of their food. Knowing that different components of food, such as the macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and nutrient density play different roles in how they nourish the body and how they break down is crucial for anyone interested in setting a reasonable meal plan and in losing weight. Body builders, athletes, models, and average Joes like us strive for different body structures, but the one thing we have in common is designing a meal plan to achieve the results and acknowledging the differences. Clearly, a bodybuilder and a runway model will not have the same diet plan, just as an average Joe looking to lose weight won’t have the same diet as an average Joe who needs to put on a little weight.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is possible to lose weight by not eating a healthy diet and by working out a ton, but in order to get the best out of your workout, what you eat and drink is key and if you don’t feel good enough to begin with because of your diet, will you really feel like working out? For optimum weight loss, knowing how to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat. Meals should be spaced throughout the day and in portions that will not be so large they are debilitating and require a nap or rest before getting anything done in the day. When trying to find portion control, eat food slow enough to enjoy it when you can, and by the end of your meal you should feel comfortably full, but not tired or sick. America has this twisted way of telling us we have to eat until we need a nap and stretchy pants, so it’s not uncommon to find that you’ve been eating too much your whole life. Chances are, after simply eating a little bit less and more snacking throughout the day alone, you’ll notice an improvement in how you feel and how you look. Yes, it really can be that easy. Another thing to consider is when you eat. Always, always, always eat something for breakfast. Overnight, the body feels like it is being starved and therefore packs away energy for storage and won’t be released if you skip breakfast. Therefore, more fat will accumulate and your metabolism will slow down, because it’s in survival mode. If you plan on working out, it’s best to eat at least an hour or hour and a half before doing so, that way your meal has time to work its way through your system enough to have plenty of energy for exercising.
A few things to consider when cutting back on fattening foods are:
- Drink soda no more than once or twice per week. Sugars, chemicals, and artificial sweeteners do no more than preserve fat cells, increase them, and make you feel sluggish and gassy.
- Drink more water, tea, and milk. All three promote lean body weight, and are naturally energizing. Both tea (especially green and oolong tea) and water have been proven to significantly increase metabolism and are energizing agents that give you more pep in your step and promote weight loss
- Don’t eat so much bread. There’s really no way around this one. Think about all the bread products we eat daily. Pasta, buns, rolls, sandwiches, toast, pizza, etc… As tempting as they are, and as easy as they make meals, the amount of carbohydrates they contain are a major source of sugar that likes to settle in the body as fat if not used quickly. When planning to have a high carbohydrate-rich meal, for optimal weight or fat loss, performing light weight lifting or resistance training a few hours after eating will be an appropriate exercise it will really benefit from the high amount of carbs.