It is important to balance exercise with a healthy diet. Exercise is important, but it cannot be your only means of losing weight. To illustrate, going for a 3 mile run might burn somewhere in the range of 400-600 extra calories. Those 400+ calories are completely erased if you swing by McDonald’s for a McDouble sandwich and a small fry. An hour of exercise is easily offset by 5 minutes of irresponsible eating!
A true weight-loss diet typically means consuming less than 2,000 calories per day. Does that sound intense or overly strict? With proper planning and a little bit of nutritional knowledge, it is very achievable. Here are a few things to consider in planning your diet.
READ THE LABEL. This is an absolute must. First, check out the serving size (1 slice, 1 cup, 10 chips, 1 tablespoon, etc) and learn how many serving are in the container. Then, you can read the facts – calories, sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, and more – on a “per serving” basis. Warning! Revealing the facts about what you eat can be shocking!
PORTION SIZE. Even when we are eating healthy food it is important to control the portion sizes. Foods such as natural peanut butter, avocados, and quinoa are a great source of healthy fats and fibre, but they are still high in calories, so we need to keep the portions limited. We don’t need a large amount to get the full benefits of those nutrients. Try balancing these foods with plenty of low calorie health foods like veggies and lean meats. Also, remember to drink plenty of water to stay full and hydrated!
DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR DRINK. Speaking of staying hydrated, remember to think about the drinks you are consuming when tracking your calories. Most of us like to have a drink to wash down our food. Everything from juice to milk has calories, and they add up pretty quick. Drinking one soda along with your snack, or evan a salad, can be enough to undo all your hard work for the day. Stick to water as often as possible and remember to count it when you change it up for a juice box.
SUPPRESS YOUR APPETITE. Eat small, eat often. By eating a little bit periodically throughout the day, you can hold back hunger pangs. Put together a lineup of healthy snacks – nuts, trail mix (read the label first!), special K rice crackers, apple slices…the options are endless. Also, drinking water helps to keep your stomach satisfied. These strategies help to avoid the “I’M STARVING!” mindset that frequently leads to overeating.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Many fall into the trap of believing they have reasonably healthy lifestyles. They might say, “Sure, I have a few vices, but overall, I think I do pretty well…” Your body responds to facts, not reasons or excuses. Failing to look at the facts, ignoring results, and neglecting to truly analyze your lifestyle leads to obesity and a range of health problems.
For just one week: we’d like to challenge everyone to count EVERY calorie they consume. All you need is a notebook, a pen/pencil, and a few seconds to read the labels (a quick internet search will reveal calories if you don’t have a label on your food item). Every day, write down the date and create a running list of everything you put in your mouth. Add up the total calories each day. At the end of the week, you will have a pretty good idea of how well (or how poorly) you are treating your body.