You know all those sayings “abs are made in the kitchen”, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” or “eating healthy is 80% of the process”… well, this isn’t too far off. What you eat is a major part of maintaining your health and fitness. These sayings may all sound cliché-esque but, there’s truth behind them.
In order to either lose, maintain, or gain weight, it boils down to your calorie input and output. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than you burn from your day to day activities and exercise. For gaining weight it is the exact opposite. Then for maintaining your weight, you want the input and output to be almost equal. I know this seems oversimplified but, when one of those are your main concern it can be that easy.
That being said, it is a good idea to watch what type of calories you are eating. We all know there are bad calories out there that can contribute to health conditions such as high blood pressure and/or diabetes. In order to keep your body healthy and happy, eating good calories are preferred.
There are other factors involved that may need to be taken into consideration. If you have special dietary restrictions or conditions you should always seek a professional when it comes to nutrition plans. What I am talking about is a general overview and should not be taken as any sort of eating plan. These are my experiences and tips.
There are different approaches you can take concerning your eating habits. Some professionals will recommend to eat “clean.” This is referring to the types of food you eat – for example, food not being processed or having added sugars. Others will stick to a more general rule of just counting your macros for the day. Macros are the nutrients you get from food such as: carbs, fats, and protein. There is a wide assortment of other nutritional plans out there that are some type of variation on the above two mentioned.
I have gone both routes – eating the “clean” way and more recently counting only my macros. In both cases, I was successful in meeting my weight loss goal. (As a pre-cursor of what I am about to share, please note that I am in good health and don’t have any conditions that require me to eat or not eat specifics types of food.)
Eating “clean” was tougher for me because you have to cook frequently and have less time to use the fresh food you buy. I didn’t count my calories as much; I ate when I was hungry and did my best to not over eat. Mostly what I ate was fruit, vegetables, lean ground turkey, chicken, brown rice, and whole grain pasta. It’s not as boring as it sounds – I promise! With recipes from Pinterest and plenty of spices (without salt) I made some pretty delicious meals. In this case seasonings, herbs, and spices are key!
Currently I still try to eat “clean” when possible; however, I track my calories and macros more than anything else. For example, I will still make dinner using ground turkey but, will use regular white rice instead of brown rice. The calorie count and macros are almost identical for brown and white rice but, brown rice is made from what is considered whole grains and is less processed than white rice. The whole grains contain more nutrients than the processed grains making brown rice healthier. From time to time I’ll grab Taco Bell for lunch and tally up my calories and macros for it to stay within my limits.
In both cases, portion control in your friend! You have to account for everything you eat so, you can ensure you’re eating the proper amount for what your body is burning. I use the MyFitnessPal app/website to log my meals. It’s free and user-friendly. It provides all the information on the food you eat and you can even log in your own recipes to add again on another day easily. When you’re aware of what and how much you’re eating, you’ll be less likely to go over your eating goals.
In addition to the portion control aspect, you should try prepare your food ahead of time that way it is ready to go when you are hungry. Preparing food is a huge helper to avoid overeating and eating healthier. When you have something set up to eat, you won’t go grab the easy unhealthy option (that is the idea at least).
Meal prepping benefits you in this way. You can either meal prep for the week or for the next day. A lot of people will cook enough food for the entire week on a day like Sunday. This is great if you don’t mind eating the same thing every day. I get bored easily… so, I’ll go grocery shopping on the weekend and have my dinners planned out for the week. It usually takes me no longer than 30-60 minutes to have dinner ready so, I don’t mind cooking every night (most of the time). Whatever I cooked for dinner I have for lunch the next day.
An even easier route to take is pay for a meal prepping service to do it for you. There’s a variety of them out there these days that you can find one to fit whatever your dietary needs are.
Whatever route you take to maintain your eating habits, make sure it is healthy. It should be sustainable and leave you feeling satisfied – not hungry all the time. Don’t go for those fad diets promising quick and easy weight loss. It should be a lifestyle not a 6-week program.
Enjoy the food you eat and have a cheat day every now and then. Now go out and cook something yummy…and make sure you log it!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional nutritionist. The above-mentioned comments are my experience and general tips for a reasonably healthy individual with no health conditions. Please consult a professional before starting any type of diet or meal plan.