Written by Angelica Driskell
If I told you to forget about “dieting” which only creates a feeling of hunger, lethargy and deprivation, and I gave you instructions on how to get fit with food, would you be interested?
Diets don’t work!
If I ask you to define the word “diet,” most people would say something such as “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly to reduce weight.” The problem with this is that when the weight is lost, the “diet” ends, and old habits return. Next thing you know, you’re right back where you started. Or worse, you’re heavier than you started because you’ve feel deprived and start to gorge on “forbidden” foods. It’s the temporary thinking that makes diets fail.
I want to redefine the word “diet” and retrain your thoughts about food. Our diet is our habitual nourishment. It’s the food and drink we consume regularly and eating the way nature intended. When you eat the proper foods in the proper amounts at the right time, you will feel and look your best! When you eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats more often, your blood-sugar levels will stabilize, and you will be satisfied. As an added bonus, you will achieve a lean physique and lose weight without trying. The best part is that you can still have a treat now and again!
You can forget about “dieting” which only creates feelings of hunger, lethargy and/or deprivation I am going to give you instructions on learning how to get fit with food. This is not a temporary fix, fad, or gimmick; it’s a way of life. Learning how to eat properly will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and allow you to feel better than you ever have before.
The vital nutrients our bodies need to be healthy and fit are protein, carbohydrates, fat, and minerals. All of the food we eat contains minerals which help to regulate bodily functions. Protein is the building block and helps repair tissue. Complete proteins contain the nine essential amino acids our bodies need. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and some dairy products are complete proteins. Tofu, quinoa, and hemp are plant sources which are known to be complete proteins.
Carbs supply our body with energy and contains fiber which helps to remove toxins. Carbs are our main source of fuel because they are easily converted to glucose, which is used by our cells for energy and is needed for proper brain function. There are two types of carbs, simple and complex. Complex carbs are usually a good source of fiber. Simple carbs include sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and milk, as well as refined sugar in processed food. Complex carbs are found in whole grain breads, cereals, vegetables, and beans.
Fat is another source of energy in our body. Dietary fat contains nine calories per gram, which is more than twice the number contained in carbohydrates or protein. Since fat is very nutrient- dense, we must consume it in moderation. Healthy amounts of fat are essential for our bodies to function properly. Fat helps the body absorb certain vitamins and keeps our hair and skin healthy.
Six Easy Steps to Get Fit with Food
Eat six meals per day. While getting lean, you want to eat smaller meals, but eat more often.
- These meals will need to contain a mix of protein, carbs, and fats. A meal could be something simple like an apple with peanut butter or something more traditional such as chicken breast, sweet potato, and broccoli. Protein can be eaten alone or with veggies, but carbs need to be eaten with protein and/or a healthy fat so that your blood sugar doesn’t spike. For example, do not eat a banana or potatoes alone; instead mix it with healthy fats and/or protein source
- By eating more often (approximately every three hours), you will have a constant supply of nutrients to fuel your muscles and give you more energy. It will also help keep your metabolism up so you can burn body fat.
- Keep portions small. A portion of protein should be about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. A portion of carbs (fibrous veggies or complex carbs) should be about the size of a clenched fist or a tennis ball. A portion of fat should be about the size of your thumb or a domino.
- Eat complex carbs when you are most active during the day, most likely your first three or four meals. Stick with fibrous carbs like veggies at dinner. Additionally, something light such as cottage cheese or low-fat/non-fat yogurt is a perfect after- dinner snack. You can lower the amount of carbs you consume per day to accelerate weight loss. However, always include carbs in your first meal each day.
Drink a gallon of water per day.
- Water is a key no matter what you are trying to accomplish. Staying hydrated will help your body make better use of the food you ingest.
- Water helps to keep you feeling full. If you sweat a lot during the day, you should drink more than a gallon a day.
- Water also keeps your metabolism up due to the oxygen content in the water. It will also help to keep you regular!
Have one cheat meal per week!
- Plan to incorporate a cheat meal once a week. Following this new lifestyle will take dedication and discipline, but it does not mean you will never be able to enjoy certain foods again.
- This can be a difficult transition for those coming out of a cycle where nothing was off limits. Incorporating a planned cheat meal will help you psychologically, physically and socially.
- To avoid unbearable cravings, going on a binge and indulging yourself in everything you've been missing, plan a cheat meal in which you can eat anything you want once a week. You can schedule this meal to coincide with a social event or just designate a particular day in which you can indulge.
- The MOST important part about the cheat meal is to enjoy it and then get back on track! You WILL get another one next week. Do not let the cheat meal throw you off track and open the door to uncontrolled eating.
- If you start to have cravings after your cheat meal, write them down and then have those things at your NEXT scheduled cheat meal. After a while, you will realize that eating healthy makes you feel better than the cheat meal.
- Do some sort of cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes four to five days per week. This could be walking around the block, biking, playing a sport or going to the gym. If maximum fat loss is desired, you should do cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Do some sort of resistance training three to four days per week. Most people have the mentality that more is better. This is not the case with resistance training. Keep your workouts short, but intense; ideally keep your resistance workouts less than one hour. You can split your workout into upper body and lower body days or work one major body part per day. You can also follow a conditioning DVD and use dumbbells if you can’t get to a gym. You can even lift heavy household items such as laundry detergent if you have nothing else!
- Pre and post-workout meals are very important. You can think of your body as a car. The fuel you put in the car gets it moving, but if you run out of fuel after a long drive, what happens? The car stops. Same goes with your body. The food you eat pre-workout gets used as fuel for the body during exercise. When your workout ends, the fuel has run out and our bodies will need to be refueled. Our bodies are like a dry sponge after a workout and will absorb nutrients quickly and easily. The post-workout meal should contain about 20g of protein and about 20g of simple carbs.
Get some rest.
- Get adequate sleep at night to help increase growth hormones in the body which help you build lean muscle and burn fat.
- You should strive for no less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Anything less and you will be cutting yourself short with your progress. The magic happens when we sleep!
- You can eat your last meal approximately an hour before bed, but do not add carbs in this meal. Our bodies need protein to help repair our muscles while we sleep, but it does not need carbs for energy. An ideal meal before bed would be cottage cheese since it is slowly digested. You can also have a protein shake or egg whites before bed.
Get a good multivitamin.
- You need to get proper vitamins and minerals which you can't get from food alone. A multivitamin is essential to help with everyday activities and give your body exactly what it needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You Are What You Eat!
You now have the basic tools and step-by-step instructions to help you get fit with food. Approximately 80% of our body composition is directly related to the food we eat, 10% is related to the exercise we perform, and 10% is related to our genetic code. Too many people use the excuse that they have some genetic problem that keeps them from getting fit.
Genes may control some parts of our physical appearance such as the color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, the width of your hips, or the size of your feet. You can absolutely improve your our outward appearance with exercise. A thick waist looks smaller if you build up your back muscles, a saggy rear end gets lifted by building your gluts muscles with resistance training, and overall body fat can be reduced with cardiovascular exercise. However, NO amount of exercise will reshape your body without the proper nutrition! You MUST use high quality foods such as lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats to get lean and build a beautiful, healthy body.
You really are what you eat! You also have one body and one life to live; make them both the best they can be. Nothing will ever taste as good as being fit feels. Stay fit and love life!
Caution: Before starting any nutritional plan, it is important to discuss it with your doctor. Your health care provider can help address any possible medical conditions and guide you along the way to reaching your goals. You might also consider hiring a nutrition consultant who can help design customized menus and keep you motivated to eat right, exercise, and get fit for life.
Check out Angelica's Get Fit with Food Shopping List.
Angelica Driskell is a former personal trainer and competitive bodybuilder. She now channels her desire to see people live their best lives through cosmetology as a professional hair and make-up consultant.