Can I be honest with you? Whenever someone asks me for a diet plan I want to dropkick them.
Alright, maybe that’s too harsh. But, I do have to restrain myself from rolling my eyes and slapping them upside their head. I feel this way because I know exactly how the conversation is going to play out 95% of the time. Everyone assumes that there’s some top-secret diet protocol out there that will make their weight loss or muscle building dreams a reality.
Not the case
First things first, I am not a RD or nutritionist (ass covered). But, here’s the thing, the majority of the population doesn’t need an expert to get their eating habits straightened out. Keep in mind, I am not talking to elite athletes, body builders, or figure competitors. No, I am talking to regular guys and gals with a job, a family, and a busy schedule trying to improve their health and well being.
If you fall into this group, what you really need is a heaping dose of common sense, mixed with some personal responsibility.
Stop searching for answers to questions you already know the answer to. You don’t need a meal plan; you need some self-control.
- Some food is good for you; some of it will kill you.
- Eat more of the good stuff, less of the bad stuff and you’ve got it made.
- That means more foods that grow on trees or come from the ground; less food from a box, bag, or the freezer.
- If you have to ask whether or not it’s good for you just assume that it’s not.
- Record what you eat, when, and how much. I’m not asking you to count calories, but try to estimate portion size.
- Eat to fuel your body, not for gratification or pleasure.
Put simply, your diet should be based on lean animal protein, fresh vegetables, (green leafy and colorful) some fruit, healthy sources of fat, limited number of starches, and no added sugars.
Now, some people are going to say; “Hey, isn’t that Paleo?!?”
No, it’s just healthy. Don’t over think this; you don’t need a label to be healthy. When you do that, you’re just making things harder than they need to be.
Making healthy harder than it is
It seems so simple, yet so many people continue to struggle with food and their weight. I think there are two reasons behind this. First, nobody wants to put the effort in to make their health a priority. If you want to be healthier, but you’re not actively trying to make a change, that’s on you. No one can do it for you.
Second, there’s an entire system in place that’s making money off of our laziness. There are countless books, and doctors, and supplements that want you to buy what they’re selling. They bill themselves as the weight loss savior so people buy in, fail, and then live in a constant cycle of trying everything. Don’t buy in.
Nutrition advice that is making you fat
Low-fat – don’t avoid all fats; avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Eat nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, and salmon instead of chips, fried foods, and sweets.
Low or no carbs – like fats the carbohydrate debate is messy. You don’t have to cut out all carbs, adjust when you eat them and what kinds. For instance, refined and highly processed carbs like white bread, pasta, and pastries are the real trouble makers. But, carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables, quinoa, legumes, and sweet potatoes significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A calorie is a calorie – all food is not created equal. 50 calories of cake is not the same as 50 calories of broccoli. The kinds of foods that we eat set off chemical reactions in out body. Different foods release different chemicals and hormones that will affect how we feel. Choosing high quality foods instead of processed foods is always the best bet.
Starvation diet – if you’re trying to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume, but you can’t stare yourself of the nutrients it needs. If you’re not eating enough, your body will rebel. Your hormones will be out whack, your metabolism will slow down, and your energy levels will take a nose dive. Aim for a balanced diet, and more activity, instead of counting or drastically reducing caloric intake.
Elimination diet – diets that call for the elimination of entire foods are often harmful and difficult to maintain. Removing dairy products, meat, or grain based carbohydrates from your diet creates more problems than it solves. You’re going to have to replace those calories and nutrients somehow; most of the time that’s done through binging. Moderate or reduce these foods, do not eliminate them.
Gluten-free does not mean healthy – If you have a gluten intolerance, going gluten-free is not an option, it’s a requirement. However, if you’re going gluten free because you think it’s a weight loss tactic, you’re sadly mistaken. Gluten-free is not an indication that food is healthier, natural, or lower in calories. These foods can still be filled with sugar and contain a lot of calories. Go gluten free if you’d like, but don’t stop reading the food label
Binging – overeating or consume large amounts of food at one sitting is harmful. If you starve yourself throughout the day, you’re going to end up binging. Sure, you might make it a few weeks, but you’re headed for a crash. Don’t let this happen. Take small steps towards change to create a manageable nutrition plan
Emotional eating – avoid using food as a reward or coping mechanism. Food is not a reward; it’s not a cure for a bad day or breakup. Don’t eat according to your emotions; eat according to your level of hunger. Channel your stress and emotions through alternate outlets, like exercise.
Distracted eating – be mindful of what you eat. Don’t eat right out of the box or a bag. Turn off the television, put the computer away, make a plate, sit down and enjoy your meal. This way you’ll be more aware what you’re eating and when you get full.
How bad do you want it?
When all is said and done, and you’ve exhausted all of the healthy eating tips that exist, the only thing that matters is you.
Do you want to make a change of not?
There’s no advice in the world that will make turning down the dessert menu easy or fun. They only thing that makes that decision easier is you, and the results you will see if you exercise a little bit of self control.
That’s the pay off, that’s the motivation: you will be healthier, sexier, more energized, and more productive if you fuel your body correctly.
It’s fine if you don’t want it. It’s alright if you don’t want to make an effort. But, don’t sit around acting as if exercise and eating well is a mystery.
It’s on you.
Joe is a writer, trainer and fitness entrepreneur who co-founded Hybrid Athlete LLC, Kettlebell Cardio™ and Race Day Domination. Currently building @fittinsider, a platform for founders, executives, & investors redefining fitness/wellness. Investing in health/fitness companies