1.Stop decreasing your calories as a main weight loss tool
I make nutrition plans for a lot of women and from my work with them, I notice how most of them are trying to achieve results, by limiting their food intake. Most women fool themselves, that the less they eat, the faster they will lose weight and the faster they will achieve their goal. Losing weight is not equivalent to a nice, athletic, lean body. Weight is just a measure, that doesn’t tell us anything about the way the body looks. Usually, the strategy to limit our food intake leads to:
1.Loss of muscle, a lower number on the scale, but at the expense of a skinny fat body – far from the goal we have.
2.Worsening of our health status and a hormonal imbalance, which is enemy number one of weight loss.
3.A period of controlled hunger, followed by uncontrollable binging. As I love saying, there always comes a time when biology takes toll over willpower and we get in a state where we binge on all kind of foods and we spin in the enchanted circle of guilt, dissatisfaction, more indulgence, a step back, guilt and so forth.
Food is not our enemy and we should not avoid it. Food is information and fuel and we should use it as a main tool in order to achieve our goals.
Not less food, but enough food, in the right quantities and ratios leads to the desired results.
2.Start having a breakfast for a grown up woman and not for a two year old girl
If the day can be predicted by the morning, then the dinner can be predicted by the breakfast. What do I mean? We start the day fresh and charged with a lot of willpower. The breakfasts starts with … either coffee and tea or if there is some food, we eat 200 grams low-fat yogurt or just an apple. The day continues with a lunch of green salad with 2-3 olives and if the eating woman is more generous, she might throw in a piece of cheese. The dinner is green salad with tuna fish, followed by a 30 minute pause and a handful of raw nuts. Followed by 30 minutes pause and a piece of whole wheat bread with a piece of mozzarella. Followed by a 20 minute pause and a piece of cake, followed by a big quantity from everything in the fridge and on the shelves.
I see it every day – women, who in their desire to be perfect and eat less, limit their calorie intake throughout the day and then overcompensate with a huge amount of food for dinner. I wish that every woman could start eating more for breakfast, eating enough food for lunch and then stop overeating for dinner.
It is such a great feeling to distribute your food intake throughout the day and being in charge of planning how much and what your body eats, so it can receive what it needs and quit on the binging.
What is more likely to take you to the end goal?
A breakfast of a coconut pancake ( 2-3 eggs, 1 piece of fruit, 15 grams of coconut, vanilla, honey, cocoa powder and cinnamon). A lunch of stewed veggies with spices, stewed meat, some marinated, dried tomatoes and a handful of rice. A small but dissent afternoon snack and a dinner of big salad, salmon and 10-15 raw nuts.
-200 grams yogurt
-green salad with a piece of cheese
-tuna fish with green salad…unlimited amount of everything that is in the fridge and on the shelf.
The first option gives your body enough food, gives satisfaction to your senses and makes you feel satiety. On a daily basis you eat more, but enough and you sustain some calorie deficit, which in the long term leads to constant results.
In the second case, you starve all day, you binge in the evening and you feel guilt, you are disappointed and you do not achieve results.
Every time when I am on the road, I remind myself that the longest journeys start with the words: “I know a shorter path.” Probably the longest and unsuccessful tries to lose weight, start with the words “I know a diet that makes you lose weight faster.”
It doesn’t matter what we do day by day, but what is the whole picture – it is far better to eat enough on a daily basis and skip the periods of binging, i.e. to have balance on a daily basis, instead of starve yourself and then overcompensate with a binge – starving is always compensated with binging and the end result is 0 or even a negative. Think about it and start distributing your food intake throughout the whole day, so you don’t become a victim of binging.
3.Realise that apples are not a magical food
We live in a society that usually overrates the qualities of products that are labeled “very good”, “very healthy” and so forth. I am not quite sure how the myth with “the more apples you eat, the faster you lose weight”, started.
Most women eat apples, every time when their body is screaming for energy and food. We eat scarce amount of food for lunch and we fill the interval between lunch and dinner with 3-4 apples weighing 250-300 grams each. Sure, we’ve already had one apple for breakfast and we’ve eaten another one as a mid morning snack.
As I said, it is not just calories that matter, but also the ratios between macronutrients and the micronutrients that we get. It is one thing when your diet consists of 80% carbs, another thing when it is 40% carbs and a whole different story when it is 10% carbs. I am not encouraging you to stop eating fruits and carbs, but just to start eating them in dissent amounts. Did you know that one apple that weights about 250 grams, contains about 30 grams of carbs? 5 apples like that in a single day are equal to 150 grams of carbs. Do you have an idea that this is about 500-600 grams cooked rice? I guess that you will have a hard time eating 600 grams of rice. But, on the other hand, rice would be a lot more satiating. How would you feel if instead of these 5 apples, you add 150 grams cooked rice with your lunch of steak or fish and have just one apple (about 200 grams) with some cottage cheese for an afternoon snack? You will eat a lot less food, but I guarantee you that you will feel satiety and happiness.
4.Realize that avocado is not a food you can eat like a vegetable
Avocado is a great food – I love it, but still, it is almost just fat. A piece of avocado that weights about 150 grams (even though most weigh 200 grams), contains 290 calories, from which 30 grams fat.
I see it on a daily basis – women who eat 3 avocados a day, as an add on to the rest of their meals of eggs, fish, nuts and meat.
These are at least 90 grams of fat and 870 calories just from the avocado. It is true that it is green, but it is not a vegetable in the sense that we get it. Add it to your meals, but with consciousness and with a measure. Because at the end of the day, besides the quality of the food, what matters is also the quantity. I admire the efforts to eat real food, but the goals we want to achieve, require that we pay attention to the quantity, as well.
I notice that most women are afraid to eat fat from other food sources, but bravely emphasize on avocados. Why do we think that fats in avocado are harmless and not fattening, and the fats in eggs, meat and butter are dangerous and make us fat? The human body, as a structure and function is closer to animals, than it is to plants. Animal fats, as a structure are closer to our own fat structure and it is logical that our body needs this type of fats, more than it needs plant sources of fat. Fats are important for the synthesis of hormones and for absorbing micronutrients. As I mentioned, we are what our hormones are – when they are in balance, we are in balance as well and we look and feel great. When they are not – then our body is not as we’d like it to be.
Animal fats are a lot more satiating than plant sources of fat and if we do not throw the yolks, if we do not burn the food and instead we put some butter on the bottom of the pan, then food is a lot more delicious, satiating and our body functions better.
5.Stop indulging in healthy desserts as a substitute to sweets
The tendency in the fitness world is to overdo it with the healthy desserts. In the dressing room of our gym, I constantly hear how women kill their sweet cravings: “I eat tahini with coconut butter and honey and my sweet craving disappears immediately!”(really?:D); “I eat dates with cocoa, honey and butter.”; “I made Ines’ raw cake and I ate two-three pieces.”
Trying to eat quality food is great, BUT everything has limits. The combination of tahini, butter and honey is pretty energy dense and it definitely doesn’t support our goals to get a leaner body. By listening about the foods that some people use as a substitute to their sweet cravings, I am starting to think that it will be much better to eat half a chocolate and calm down.
Healthy desserts are a substitute to junk food, but the dessert is just an add on to your main meals, and not the basis of your nutrition or the substitute of your main dishes. The dessert, suggests that we eat 1 or 2 small raw chocolates and this is enough for the day – and not that we eat 10 of them and use the excuse that they are healthy. Health is in balance and even too much healthy food can harm us.
That is why you should give it a thought if you are not going into the extreme of eating way too many desserts, with the excuse that they are healthy.
6.Stop making nutrition the point of your life and your main focus of the day
A lot of women would achieve faster results if they stop over-thinking, all day long, what they ate and where it is gonna stick as fat. The more we focus on something, the more significance it has. If we are constantly over-thinking the slice of bread from breakfast or the additional egg that we had, we are getting into the enchanted circle of guilt and self- punishment. A strategy, that turns us into slaves and takes us away from the results that we aim for. If we stop waiting 10 days until our next cheat day in order to eat the food we crave and we just take a bite of the food that we want and then keep living without guilt, the pounds will start melting. The more we avoid something, the more it grows and the more it settles down in our thoughts. The more we focus on something, the bigger it gets. Food is delicious and it is a pleasure, but it is a part of life and not its main meaning. So listen to your body and stop making so many strategies.
7.Stop eating like a bodybuilding competitor and eat for the results you want to get
The more you try to follow the diet of a bodybuilding competitor, the more you get further from the results you could get. Realize that nutrition and workouts of a person who wants to be in good shape, are different from nutrition and workouts of a professional competitor.
When I used to be a competitive swimmer, I used to swim at least 10km a day. Now, I swim no more than 2 km. once or twice a week. Back then I used to be a competitor and this identity required these workouts. Would I do it now? No! Because I know that I can be in great shape, by swimming less, but enough and not investing my whole energy in swimming.
It is the same with nutrition. Do you know how much more results you would get if you eat a little bit more and if you have more variety in your food, but yet you do not feel deprived by following a strict diet? Do you know how much faster you could get the results you want, if you stop feeling the guilt you have when you cheat on your diet? All the stress around training and nutrition is worth it just when it comes to a professional athlete, who has the clear idea why he/she endures this deprivation, but not when it comes to a person who wants to be HEALTHY, LOOK GOOD and FEEL GOOD.
Try and you won’t make a mistake!
In conclusion, I will say that losing weight is not difficult, when we stop going from one extreme to another. Losing weight is not in deprivation and limitation, but in giving your body enough from what it needs – movement and energy. That is when we stop experiencing the biological drive to binge, we stop feeling exhausted and we stop instinctively try to increase our energy levels with food or drinks. When we give our body enough, we stop being obsessed with the thought of food and the unwanted weight stops being a problem, because food is not the main focus of our life.