Ever heard of the term ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’? Well, that saying doesn’t exist for nothing! The truth of the matter is, we are what we eat. Your diet is the biggest obstacle you will face in achieving your weight loss goals.
We’re often bombarded with pictures of chiselled fitness models, and led to believe that exercise is the most important for weight loss. We’re guilt-tripped into doing those excruciating burpees and jumping jacks, all to no avail. Why? Because you’re not eating right.
For your weight loss goals, it is actually your diet that matters the most. The saying goes ‘You can’t out-exercise a bad diet’. However, you can still lose weight without working out. So, really our attention and effort is often misdirected towards exercise, when we should be looking at what’s on our plates.
Wait, so am I telling you that you don’t need to set foot in a gym to lose weight? Yes,
To put this into perspective, let’s look at it this way. To burn off 1 large slice of pepperoni pizza, a 60kg individual has to perform 272 burpees. So, it’s safe to say that you’ll make a bigger impact with less effort if you just skipped the extra slice of pizza!
So, here are some basic healthy eating tips to get you started:
We’ve often been told that it’s bad to count calories. This is true to some extent. While it’s true that you shouldn’t be obsessive about counting every single calorie, it’s still important to keep in mind some ballpark figures about the food you eat.
One of the biggest principles in weight loss is that calories in shouldn’t overpower calories that you burn. So, it’s really just finding a balance between calorie consumption and calorie expenditure.
The biggest issue with calories is that it’s easy to get the number wrong by a long shot. Food items we often expect to be harmless can rack up the calories pretty quickly. For example, 1 low-fat blueberry muffin from Starbucks has 340 calories. That is equivalent to a plate of spaghetti bolognese. So, even foods that look healthy and innocuous can rack up calories pretty quickly.
Say you miscalculate the calorie number by 150 calories (which is pretty easy to do by the way). For 35 meals in a week (including snacks), you’ve underestimated over 5,000 calories! Considering there are 3,500 calories in 1lb (453 g) of fat, you’re putting on 1lb of weight each week without even realizing!
So, this is why it’s so important to know the calorie amounts of what you’re eating. Fortunately, though, there are some brilliant apps like Lifesum and MyFitnessPal that can help you keep track of your meals. They contain vast databases of foods, including popular restaurant meals to help you count those calories.
There are also loads of free online apps that you can use to calculate how many calories you need to eat every day to lose weight. This weight loss calculator from Precision Nutrition is pretty great. It’s very detailed and helps you track your progress.
This is one of the most important healthy eating tips on this list. Sugar and fat found in processed foods are the biggest culprits in life-threatening diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
They not only make you feel like crap, but also look like crap. They speed up the aging process through a method called oxidation, which destroys healthy tissues and even your DNA.
Many sugary snacks are also empty calories, meaning that they offer little vitamins and minerals. Sodas, for example, are one of the worst things you can consume. Even foods that you least expect can be loaded with sugar, such as ketchup, for example. So, be sure to check the added sugars section of nutrition labels.
Another sneaky thing about sugar is that F&B companies have developed several aliases for sugar. So, if you see the following list of names in the ingredients list, steer clear:
There are a whopping 61 alternative names for sugar.
So, what is the maximum daily limit for added sugar? According to the American Heart Association, the limits should be:
If you look at the sugar content of most of your beloved foods, you’ll be surprised at how sugar is sneaked into the most unexpected foods. Sugar is like nutritional whack-a-mole. When you thought you’ve got rid of it, it pops back up somewhere else. So, what’s the solution?
The easiest way to minimize added sugar is to cook your own meals. Not only will you lower the calorie intake but you will also spend calories cooking them, so it’s a win-win situation! However, you still might need to watch out with some ingredients like processed cheeses and pasta sauces.
One of the most common healthy eating tips is to ‘eat plenty of vegetables’. The media will tell you this, your mom would’ve told you this many years ago. Well, it’s not said for nothing and she was right. Vegetables can be your saviour for your weight loss journey.
Not only do they contain essential vitamins and minerals, but they also allow you to feel full with lower calories. Additionally, they help you with hydration since a lot of them are full of water and fibre.
Even some vegetables that you love will contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. For example, one medium carrot will give you more than 100% of your daily Vitamin A intake. 1 cup of broccoli can give you more than 100% of your Vitamin C intake.
And these are super easy to incorporate into your diet or to the foods that you love. You can sneak in broccoli to your favourite stir fry dish or even a quiche.