Years ago, dieting was associated with tasteless, plain fare and long lists of forbidden foods. Fortunately, the trend toward healthy lifestyles over the past few decades has created a demand for low-calorie options that are still delicious. Additionally, advancements in the areas of diet and fitness have uncovered many facts that are helpful to health-conscious individuals. Below are the 10 Most Important Habits For Eating Healthy and Losing Weight:
1. The role of protein
A high protein, low carbohydrate eating plan will almost certainly help you lose weight. Although all carbohydrates are not bad, most experts agree that white sugar and flour are saboteurs of essentially any diet.
Simple carbohydrates–those that are high in flour and sugar–are broken down and stored as fat unless they are burned off immediately. Additionally, they are notorious for causing blood sugar spikes that make you feel famished. If you have ever suddenly felt “starving” and subsequently ate everything in sight, it is safe to assume that the culprit was carbohydrates.
When the latter are shunned in lieu of lean meats, whole grains, and vegetables, your hunger pains vanish and your metabolism speeds up. You can also jumpstart your metabolism by restricting carbohydrates drastically at the beginning of a diet and then gradually adding in a healthy amount. This is because your body must burn stored fat when carbs are restricted. Provided you do not go back to high amounts of starch, the unwanted pounds will not reappear.
2. Avoid crash dieting
Although crash dieting may be very tempting, skipping meals, or relying on fad diets are bad ideas. When you slash your caloric intake excessively, your body thinks you are starving and burns stored fat at a slower pace.
Therefore, you work against yourself when you follow a crash diet, ultimately placing your goals out of reach. Additionally, when you commence with your fad diet and resume normal eating patterns, you will gain back the pounds you have lost at up to twice the rate at which they were eliminated. This may be the depressing factor that eventually causes you to abandon your healthy lifestyle goals.
3. Using substitutions
There are now many tasty alternatives to high calorie meals and snacks. For example, replacing dairy products with those made from soy is a great option.
Exchanging sour cream for low-fat cottage cheese whipped in a blender and using Stevia instead of sugar are also great examples of how to create a calorie deficit.
In essence, you are simply “tricking” your body into thinking it is being given the same items as before, only the substitutions contain little or no calories. Other great examples are turkey burgers in lieu of beef patties and low-calorie salad dressings instead of full-fat versions.
4. Exercise and build muscle
One highly effective way to boost your metabolism is to exercise. Aim for 30 minute sessions at least every other day, during which you complete both aerobic activity and strength training.
Building muscles boost your metabolism even at rest and aerobic activity improves your overall health. The best way to ensure that you follow your fitness routine consistently is to embrace variety. Boredom is the biggest enemy of exercise and changing your routine will make your workout sessions something to look forward to, rather than a dreaded activity.
5. Using negative-calorie foods
Fortunately, it has been proven that it takes more calories to metabolize certain foods than the number of calories they contain, which creates the calorie deficit you seek. Negative calorie foods include kale, applesauce, carrots, celery, green tea, Apple cider vinegar, red pepper, and cinnamon.
You can replace coffee with green tea, add kale, celery, and carrots to a salad and serve applesauce topped with cinnamon as a dessert. Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for white vinegar in many recipes, and red pepper can be added to hamburgers, chicken dishes, and pasta.
6. Successfully foregoing dessert
If you are like many dieters, your downfall is after-supper desserts or unhealthy evening snacks. One of the best ways to eliminate excess calories is to forgo dessert, but to accomplish this goal you must realize that you are already satisfied.
If not, you will likely sabotage your diet with cake, ice cream or other popular dessert items. A simple yet very successful technique to avoid overeating after supper is indulging in a satisfying hot drink like sugar-free hot chocolate or hot apple cider.
Tell yourself you will have dessert after it is consumed: it takes about 15 minutes to realize you are full, and this is about the same time it takes to drink a hot beverage. You will likely discover that once you have consumed the beverage, you no longer desire the dessert.
7. Starch and the reinvention of the wheel
Although there was always some controversy regarding whether or not starch should be considered a food group, organizations such as the FDA have promoted “grain” to this end.
This caused many people to eliminate virtually all fat and most proteins in lieu of rice, bread, and pasta. The results were obviously not a healthier nation. Medical professionals now realize that this reinvention of the wheel was not good, as it has resulted in more individuals than ever before suffering from diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Those who think fat is “dangerous” or that low-carb diets are unhealthy must understand how the human metabolism works: your body burns carbohydrates first, protein second and fat last. The “food pyramid,” developed by the FDA, recommends a daily consumption of 300 grams of carbohydrates.
However, factually speaking, unless you plan to climb Mount Everest, your body simply does not know what to do with that many carbs and subsequently stores them as fat. It is better to eat 100 carbohydrate grams or less per day. Naturally, constantly consuming animal fat is not wise either. Rather, you should simply enjoy a diet containing proteins and nominal amounts of fat instead of the high starch fare.
8. Mini-meals vs. three meals a day
You should also consider eating four to six mini meals each day, rather than the conventional three.
A substantial amount of evidence has been collected to prove that frequent meals not only boost your metabolism but also help you avoid diet-sabotaging snacks.
However, realizing what a mini meal consists of is important in order to avoid overeating. For example, a chicken leg and a half a cup of fresh carrots with a glass of soy milk is considered a mini meal. Half of a sandwich or a salad with four ounces of chicken or turkey are other good examples of mini meals.
9. Taking note of your habits
Evaluating your eating habits is essential. Using a food diary is a good way to uncover patterns that may be undermining your efforts.
Snacking late at night, constantly tasting dishes when preparing meals or finishing leftovers just because they are there are all destructive habits.
Once you begin a diary, it should only take a week or so to discover which behaviors are sabotaging your healthy lifestyle. Always have a strategy for meals and snacks if you notice that haphazard patterns lead to overeating. Prepackage healthy snacks and consider cooking and freezing nutritious meals in advance so that you do not resort to junk food when busy.
10. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol essentially contains “empty calories.” It has no nutritional value, but it is rich in sugar and carbohydrates, making it very calorie dense. Additionally, it acts as an inhibitor to your metabolism, which encourages fat storage.
If your goal is to enjoy better health, lose weight or both, alcohol should be avoided. Naturally, an occasional drink, such as a vodka-containing eggnog at the holidays or a glass of wine or champagne at a wedding will not derail all your efforts.
However, regular consumption of alcohol will eventually damage your health and counteract your weight loss goals. A healthy lifestyle is not out of reach when you follow the tips outlined above, but you must wholeheartedly commit to your chosen plan. Additionally, you should discuss any new diet or exercise program with your family doctor.