Rather than focus on what you can’t have, I want you to focus on these 10 things to become healthier, stronger and perform better!
1. Avoid sugar in all its many forms. Carbohydrates, especially those with a high glycemic load, turn to sugar very quickly. When you eat sugar, you unconsciously trigger a vicious cycle of sugar cravings, increased insulin production, increased appetite, more sugar intake, and more insulin production, until you are in a cycle of cravings, bingeing and crashing all day long. Eventually this leads to insulin resistance, which is a major contributor to weight gain and rapid aging.
2. Eat more fiber. Fiber is the secret key to a low glycemic load. It’s like a sponge that soaks up sugar, thus making it burn more slowly in your digestive system. Eating fiber is advantageous for a lot of reasons. The higher the fiber content of a single food or a meal in total, the harder and longer your body has to work to digest it. You burn more calories, stay full longer, and reduce your appetite.
3. Choose real food. Avoid highly processed, factory-manufactured Frankenfoods. Choose fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and lean animal proteins such as fish, chicken, and eggs.
4. Eat breakfast. The easiest thing you can do to lose weight and increase longevity is to eat breakfast. Studies repeatedly show that eating a healthy protein-containing breakfast helps people lose weight, reduce cravings, and burn calories. Good proteins are eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, or a protein shake.
5. Slow down and be mindful. When we eat unconsciously, we eat more. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. The practice of slow, mindful eating is a powerful way to better enjoy your food, lose weight, and improve your metabolism. Before meals, “Take Five”: Take five breaths in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Slowly count to five on each in-breath and again on each out-breath. Offer gratitude, and then bring your attention fully to the food.
6. Sleep better. The research is clear: Lack of sleep or poor sleep damages your metabolism, causes cravings for sugar and carbs, makes you eat more, and drives up your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and early death. Getting enough sleep and sleeping well are essential for health and an easy way to maintain blood sugar balance and lose weight.
7. Stay consistent. Eat early, starting with a big breakfast, and eat often. Keep the fire of your metabolism burning all day, rather than slowing it down during periods of “mini-starvation.” After breakfast, eat every three to four hours, and try to schedule meals at the same time every day. Your metabolism will work faster and more efficiently. You will lose weight, have more energy, and feel better.
8. Reduce stress. Chronic stress makes your body pack on the pounds. If you want to lose weight, start by soothing your stressed-out body and mind. Find something that works for you and do it. That might be yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.
9. Drink up. Drink at least eight glasses of clean, pure water throughout the day to help with appetite control and flush out metabolic and environmental toxins through your kidneys. Try drinking two glasses of water before you eat; that alone has been proven to help you lose weight. In fact, researchers found that drinking water before meals increases weight loss by about 44 percent.
10. Exercise regularly. People who consistently exercise are able to lose weight better and even more importantly, maintain that weight loss. Even 30 minutes’ vigorous walking can help, and if you want something more intense, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or weight resistance.
I hope you’re able to see why calories are far from the whole picture for weight loss, and how eating more of the right foods can stoke your metabolic fire so you stay lean and healthy.
Your Partner in Health,
NASM CPT CES- IAWP Health and Wellness Behavioral Coach