My diet for fat loss. You’re probably thinking I have all my meals planned out and prepared in advance, or I carry my food with me, or maybe I swear off all sweets and treats.
I might have said and done all of these at times when I first wanted to lose weight and gain control of my eating. But following these rigid ‘rules’ are anything but controlling. They hold me back from enjoying life, cause feelings of deprivation, and sabotage my best efforts.
What has helped me lose weight and keep it off then? A series of guidelines and habits that I’ve fine tuned for myself. They address my personal preferences, allow direction and flexibility thus limiting deprivation, and are doable anywhere!
I only prepare some of my food. I have a love-hate relationship with meal prepping. I look at some photos of meal prep and it looks so boring and bland! After a day or two of the same food I get numb to the tastes and just want more food until my appetite is satisfied. Some produce is just meh after a day in the fridge (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, have you ever smelled cabbage once its cooked!?). Yet, other foods gain flavor and richness over a couple of days (Italian gravy, stews, soups, slow cooked meats).
So what I’ve come to do is prepare SOME of my food in advance such as some meats, a couple vegetable dishes; if I’m incorporating a carb I’ll make some of this to grab; then I’ll keep them in my fridge separated into containers.
I only make 2-3 days worth of food at one time. This allows me to get creative and requires some action on my part at the time put my meals together. I love getting hands on with the food I’m going to eat. It add in some appreciation to what I’m putting into my mouth. We gain satisfaction before we even put the food into our mouths (have you ever salivated over a food as you looked at or thought about it but hadn’t yet taken a bite?).
Some days, if my work schedule truly does leave me in the gym training clients for hours, I will prep a couple meals to take with me. Otherwise I run with it and create impromptu meals. It’s these times that I get the most creative. It forces me to be conscious of my food, and not go multitasking.
Preparing food for only 2-3 days at a time also allows me to not waste food when I decide to grab Chipotle (one of my go to quick dining out joints), or dinner with my boyfriend randomly.
Vegetables are King
I eat salads often. Yes yes, I know, leafy greens are BORING you say. Well, I beg to differ! If you use fresh, seasonal, organic if you can, produce, add some flavor punches and lean protein, you have a perfect, delicious tasting meal right there!
Whenever I go out to eat, I check out the salad options, often finding some wildly creative combinations I would have never thought of. Some of my biggest inspirations for salads I’ve made at home have come from favorites that I’ve ordered at restaurants in my hometown. From a citrus salad, thai crunch salad, summer roll salad, spinach waldorf salad, ginger dressing salad, greek salad…I’m craving one just typing this!
Salads don’t need to be composed of a bed of leafy greens!
By definition a salad is:
a dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients.
Taking this definition, you can create a meal ANYWHERE! All you need are vegetables, and then add in some protein, flavor or dressing, and garnishes! It’s a no excuses way to stay on track at home or dining out, and get in plenty of nutrients and flavor.
The only caveat, be wary of how many extras or garnishes your salad has. What is supposed to be a base of vegetables is often drowned out by dressings, fatty meats, starches, or cheese/nuts when we dine out. Plus, portions are ginormous. Consider sharing, and asking for some of the add ons to be served on the side or left off entirely.
I work in flavor into my diet.
When we eat, our bodies look for two things to tell us we enjoy eating and that we have had enough. They look for feelings of fullness and satiety, how we feel in our stomach or physically. And we look for satisfaction, appetizing and tasty foods. Our tastebuds all vary in the tastes and flavors that we prefer, but if we have a bland or bad tasting meal, we won’t be nearly as satisfied as if it was delicious tasting.
Flavor can come from the quality of and freshness of a food, fresher has better flavor; or it can come with ingredients and components of foods. Fast-food joints and ads market to us to crave the flavors of sugar, salt, and fat, but these are probably the worst offenders to our bodies and our health and goals. So how do you boost flavor without adding sugar, salt, or fat?
You add FLAVOR BOOSTERS! These include spices, herbs, vinegars, mustard, citrus juices and zest, condiments such as salsa, marinara, enchilada sauce…all of these boosters contain negligible calories but as a huge punch to your meal! Some other flavor boosters that help create satisfaction, but used in smaller amounts based on your goal due to their nutrient profiles are oil based sauces like pesto and chimichurri, cheese, nuts, avocado, oils, and butter.
By being strategic in choosing fresh high quality foods, and accompanying them with appetizing flavors you leave the table more satisfied and with minimal cravings.
I avoid multitasking when I eat.
When you eat, JUST EAT! I know, I know, you have so much work, you’re on your feet all day, you’re rushing to get the kids to school or get ready for work; the excuses go on and on. But, if you’re really serious about making a change with your eating and reach your goals you have to carve out some time for your food and eating. 20 years ago, families would sit down to meals regularly, or would have longer meal breaks. Today, that percentage is dwindling and it’s showing with increasing waistlines.
The easiest way to fight back against this is to begin with ONE meal or snack a day, and commit to sitting down without any distractions, mental physical nor emotional. Turn off the phone, turn off the to do list going through your head, step away from the office desk, tv, or household chores, and just eat!
This is the first step in mindfulness, and mindfulness brings more appreciation into your eating. How many times have you eaten something, went to grab a bite and realized it was all gone, yet you had little recollection of how it tasted or how much you really ate?
Our satiety and fullness regulators are working from before you eat, and are also regulated by visual stimulation. If you can look at your food, you can choose what to eat, and you can pay attention to your fullness as you go.
Allow yourself at 20 minute window at minimum for your meals, 10 for snacks, and schedule it into your day, beginning with only ONE meal or snack daily. Observe your thoughts and feelings as you go, pay attention to fullness, and honor your body!
I drink! Water, tea, and seltzer that is!
Hydration is important. Being dehydrated can trick you into wanting to eat or feeling fatigued. When you’re fatigued during the day, you may mistakenly eat. The best beverages to drink are water, unsweetened hot or cold tea, and if you need a little ‘pop’ have some unsweetened seltzer water.
Bored with plain water? Infuse it with a slice of lemon or citrus, a piece of cut up fruit or vegetable (like cucumbers or watermelon), and sip away!
The key here is that your beverages are not your source of calories or sweet flavors. Consuming sweetened sugar laden beverages add hundreds if not thousands of empty calories to your diet in the form of sugar. Sugar that is stored in the body goes right to your fat stores.
What about sugar free substitutes? The verdict is still out on many of them, and I personally find they stimulate my appetite because it’s not getting calories, only flavor, so I’m left still wanting something more. I recommend avoiding sugar substittues in your beverages and foods. Stevia is one of the most natural ones out there today, but I find it has a bitter, tinish aftertaste. Sugar alcohols (erythrotol, malitol, sorbitol, xylitol, etc) can leave you bloated or with digestive distress especially in large amounts due to their inability to be broken down in the body.
I don’t deprive myself. But I also am conscious about how often and how much I have of those other foods.
Part of the fun I find in eating, is that I can choose what to eat, when I want to eat it. I incorporate variety into my diet. I avoid saying ‘I’ll never eat ____ food again, because it’s not realistic, and it only causes me to think more about it obsessively.
I strive to keep my plate balanced with vegetables and proteins primarily, but the garnishes, flavor boosters, or treats are added to round out my eating.
I’m conscious when I go out to not go for the bread basket if I’m going to want a few bites of dessert, or some starch with my entrée. It’s about balance and conscious awareness. Sometimes this is about having a mini treat like a few bites of chocolate covered fruit or a single scoop of light ice cream every day or other day, and other times, I am able to skip my treat and wait until the weekend to have something out (and by this time I don’t want a huge portion, but just enough to tame my taste buds).
The biggest way to think of this is in RATIOS. I shift my ratios from mostly carb/sugar/treat and little produce/protein, to mostly produce and protein and a few bites worth of the decandent stuff. Works everytime, as the produce fills my stomach, protein satiates me, and the extra creates satisfaction.
I choose carefully where and how I want to spend my calories beyond my protein and veggies.
This is nearly the same as the previous point I made above. It’s all about balance. If I’m going to have a nice dinner this evening, I’m going to eat lightly now. If I want the popular dessert, I will skip the bread and carbs with my entrée.
You choose your foods, you choose where you want to spend your calories. As long as you are making up the most of your calories and food with produce and protein, you are seeing results and progress, and they are within the means of your goals, you can incorporate a variety of foods, and ones you love!
I eat carbs at times others say are taboo.
‘Don’t eat carbs after dinner’, ‘avoid carbs before cardio’, ‘eat some carbs before you train to fuel your workout’, ‘skip them at breakfast and have only protein’. I’ve heard it all, and I’ve been succumbed to them all through the years. A little study states you will damage your blood sugar, or gain weight and you have to adjust when and what carbs you eat.
So a quick tutorial on carbs. They are not only your grains, breads, and starches. Carbs are also found in produce, vegetables and fruits, and dairy, just in different amounts and along with different nutrients, and more fiber and water.
So when do you eat your carbs then, and which ones when? Well, this is something you need to determine for YOU, similarly to all the other points made here. But I will give you some guidelines and direction, both out of experience, and studying this stuff.
Your produce is the shining stars. Most of your diet for fat loss is composed of produce, non starchy veggies, and certain fruits. Only a portion of your servings are from starchy carbs and grains. Timing of carbs can be played around with until you determine how your body responds. To start out, begin with having your starchy carbs at about 2 meals daily and structuring them around your workouts or midday.
So there you have it! How I eat for Fat Loss! I will be launching a more detailed and personalized coaching program where I work with you to develop these habits and others so that you can create the Fat Burn Lifestyle and reach your goals!
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