It’s no surprise that weight loss is a billion dollar industry. We want to look and feel our best, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to that. But where do we start? Everyone has an opinion about which diet or health plan will work best. You have more choices than ever before: low-fat, low-carb, Mediterranean, Paleo, high-protein, low-sugar, etc. Add in the occasional self-conflicting research, and you may be wondering why you should try any of it. To make matters worse, not all diets are equal. Your friend may swear by low-carb diets, but it might not work for you at all.
Take a deep breath and realize one very important fact: your dietary needs are unique to you. Whether you follow a bandwagon diet or choose your own adventure of proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and starches, make sure you follow these guidelines.
Eat Your Nutrients
Macronutrient balance is necessary to maintaining long term weight loss and body function. They keep chronic diseases at bay and help you stay healthy. For adults, this means that, in terms of daily calorie consumption, carbohydrates should make up 45-65%, protein should be 10-35%, and fat should be 20-35%. Remember, the goal isn’t quick weight loss that breaks down your body. The goal is focused, healthy weight loss that can be maintained without causing damage to the body in the process.
Note: There are some diets that restrict macronutrients below these thresholds. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you must meet your nutrient requirements.
Making smart, healthy choices are also key to success here: lean proteins over fatty ones, complex carbs over simple carbs, etc.
Your body is as unique as your fingerprint. It needs to be fueled and maintained by proper diet and exercise. With all these options available, how do you know where to start? Let’s start with the commonalities among the success stories. The law of averages states that a particular outcome or event is inevitable or certain simply because it is statistically possible. All of the popular diets have three things in common.
Eat your vegetables. Every single success story involved vegetables as a key part of your diet. Some suggested dark, leafy greens. Others suggested root vegetables as core content. Either way, put vegetables in your diet. Vegetables range from sweet to savory, and some will change based on the way you cook them. You can adapt ANY specific diet recipes to your personal menu. The point is to find food that inspires your palate while maintaining your health.
Avoid added sugars. We’re not talking about naturally occurring sugars, like those in fruit. We mean sugars that are added to foods. Here’s a list of common sugar add-ons:
- agave nectar
- brown sugar
- cane crystals
- cane sugar
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- crystalline fructose
- evaporated cane juice
- fruit juice concentrates
- glucosehigh-fructose corn syrup
- invert sugar
- malt sugar
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
- raw sugar
These added sugars will sabotage your weight loss more often than anything else. One easy ways to avoid them is to personally sweeten your foods. If you want fruit yogurt, buy a plain one and add the fruit yourself. If you add honey to your food, or any other sweetener mentioned above, you’ll likely use far less than the manufacturer would.
Avoid refined grains. Refined grains are milled grains that remove the dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins that are necessary to your health and wellness. Refined grains are usually “enriched”, which means that certain B vitamins and iron are added back in after processing. Fiber, however, isn’t.
At least half of all the grains eaten should be whole grains. If you still use refined grains, such as flour, make sure it says “enriched” on the label to ensure a healthy alternative.
A lifestyle change won’t happen overnight. Start with one goal in your diet. It could be as simple as eating vegetables every night with dinner. Don’t wait. Start today!