Summer is just around the corner and the warm, sunny holiday period is now on people’s minds. This of course brings about a desire to change, normally linked with an underlying sense of panic, of course, as the idea of strutting your stuff around your resort swimming pool in a swimsuit while showing off the excess Christmas weight which you not have managed to successfully shift yet becomes a much more realistic fear now you have actually booked the holiday and paid for it.
Food and the habits associated with eating are far to often reactive when wanting to lose fat and trim up for the summer season. People go on restrictive diets, cutting food and drink out with the focus being on what they shouldn’t have rather than focusing on what they are actually consuming.
A good example recently was when a client of mine began telling me of her strategy to lose weight – She explained she was planning to stop eating bread. I replied by saying “Great! Now you have told me what you are not going to eat… But what are you going to eat?” She looked at me blank with an expression which suggested she may have to rethink her master plan.
In my humble opinion, food should be enjoyed and not treated like a chore. Counting calories is fine for those who like the routine of it all, however, for the average person it’s too much work and far too stressful. Even if you do manage to get the right amount of calories in, you then have to consider if the balance of nutrition has been appropriate. Eating right shouldn’t be this much hard work.
Instead of analysing every mouthful you eat a far better strategy is to follow one very simple food based rule.
If It Doesn’t Run, Swim, Grow or Fly… Don’t Eat It!
Actually, that line is an adaptation of a quote from famous strength coach, Charles Poliquin, and is the basic foundation of the famous Paleo diet. I find a lot of logic and common sense behind the concept which suggests we should eat how nature intended. To eat natural, unprocessed food which is rich in nourishment and free from unnatural substances, chemicals and refined sugars.
Focus on low-fat cuts of meats from animals. Ham on the bone and lean cuts of pork are great sources of lean proteins. Beef in the form of lean mince and lean cuts of steak are also great examples of where you can find your quality proteins to help build your muscle after training. Red meats can be higher in saturated fats but are also rich in iron, an essential mineral.
Oily fish will supply you with essential fatty acids which will keep your body (including your brain) fully functional and are a rich source of proteins for a strong immune system and body repair. Salmon, mackerel and sardines are all good examples. In addition; Cod, lobster, shrimp, and tuna are also excellent sources of proteins.
This is where we find your carbohydrates for energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your gut working healthily. The list here is long, but you can’t go wrong with colourful vegetables for maximum health. Tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and green beans are all excellent sources of soluble fibre which helps extract undigested cholesterol from your gut.
Sweet potato, beetroot, butternut squash, baked potato, pumpkin and corn are all sources of natural, slow release carbohydrates which will give you energy and maintain your blood sugar levels, assisting the reduction of body fat. All of these foods are high in fibre.
If you are vegetarian or vegan and wish to source your protein from non-animal sources… Nuts, in the form of almonds, cashews, pistachios and seeds are all excellent sources of both unsaturated fats and proteins. You could choose grains for proteins from quinoa (which, although, is a carbohydrate is also high in protein) or opt for vegetables in the form of broccoli, spinach, kale and avocado.
In other words; Poultry. Contrary to the rule of “flying”, Turkey and skinless chicken are excellent sources of protein and as they are white meats contain very low levels of saturated fats which also makes them less calorie dense than red meats.
I totally appreciate for the average person sticking religiously to only eating completely natural foods all of the time whilst trying to eliminate all other processed foods can be challenging in the everyday world. However, it would help immensely if you included the foods I have suggested a little more often in your diet, working on keeping your plate a little more colourful to keep you healthy, energised and working toward your goals.
Fore more help with your eating plan, check out my post ‘So, What Shall I Eat?’.