One of the most common questions I get is around how and what to eat to lose weight and stay fit so I wanted to write a post about that today. There is unfortunately no magic pill you can take, it's all about your lifestyle. I will address a few of the very common misconceptions here:
1: You think that if you eat a lot less, you will lose weight fast. While this is technically true, its not a long term solution. Its also not healthy and not very pleasant. If you starve yourself and only eating maybe 1,000 calories a day, a few things will happen: a) you will be miserable and wont be able to sustain this approach, and will bounce right back to your normal weight once you stop (and might even gain more), and b) your body goes into starvation mode, holding on to everything it can to stay alive (NOT what you re trying to do, right?). You dont always have to eat less to lose weight, but you have to eat the right things! Vegetables, lean meats, fruit, nuts, etc.
2: You think that lifting weights will make you bulky, and cardio is your best and only option to lose weight/get fit. This is SO WRONG! Women need to lift more weights! It will not make you bulky, unless you are part of the 1-2% of females that actually have the ability to pack on muscle similar to a guy. Us ladies have a lot more estrogen compared to guys, so we are more prone to storing fat than building muscle (you need lots of testosterone for that). Lifting weights will not make you bulky, but it will make you tight and toned - and isnt that what everyone wants these days? If you have strong muscles, you wont have a lot of flab. In addition, if you build your muscles they become fat burning machines revving up your metabolism, which means you will burn more fat just by sitting around. Yes, you will burn more calories just by sitting around. You read that right. Now go lift some weights! Oh and about the cardio, its also great and you need it - but focus more on weight lifting and less on cardio to become your fittest, strongest, and most toned self!
3: You think eating healthy cant be fun or taste good. There is tons of food that's amazingly tasty and also healthy. You dont have to eat beans and lettuce for five meals a day. Google healthy recipes, play around with what works for you, and try to find some new favorite veggies. Personally I love brussels sprouts, sautéed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sometimes sprinkled with Parmesan - yum! Oven baked cabbage rounds with ranch dressing is another fave. Add some lean protein (chicken, turkey, eggs, lean beef, pork, tofu or other vegan options, etc) and you have a perfect meal. Play around with it, there are millions of options! There is no need to feel deprived or sad. Also, I believe in moderation so if you love chocolate, dont cut it out completely but have it in moderation. A popular approach is the 80/20 rule, eat 80% healthy and 20% whatever you want. But I also want to be honest with you so here is the thing: if you're used to ONLY eating candy, pastries, and fast food, eating healthy is going to be an adjustment. Your body is so hooked on the sugar, fat, and chemicals in the food you've been eating that it will take a bit of "rehab" to get out of it. I get hooked on sugar in like a day. If I have candy more than once in one day, then I want it for the whole week! Its unreal how addictive sugar can be, so try to avoid it.
4: You think fat is the enemy and always opt for non-fat options. Fat is not the enemy. Like I mentioned above, everything in moderation. In order to build muscle and make your body a fat burning machine, you need to feed it some fat. The good kind. Think salmon, almonds, peanut butter, avocados, olive oil, etc. Stay away from things like butter and heavy cream, but make sure to get enough healthy fats. Its also beneficial for your skin, heart, brain, etc. In addition, anything labeled "fat free" is usually packed with sugar, and sugar is the real enemy. One of my favorite examples is the candy Swedish Fish. If you look at their packaging, it proudly states "a fat-free food" - as if its healthy! NO! Just because its fat-free doesnt mean you should eat it. It makes me really upset because some people look at that and think they're making a healthier choice, when in reality they're just buying chemicals and sugar, which wreaks havoc on your system in a million ways (increases inflammation, causes acne, messes with your hunger signals causing you to overeat, can cause diabetes and heart disease, can increase risk of cancer, ruins your teeth, etc).
A few of my favorite things to eat to stay fit, full, and healthy:
- Veggies, all kinds! Boiled, baked, sautéed, roasted, raw... there are infinite options!
- Lean meats like chicken, turkey, lean beef, seafood, etc
- Vegan options like veggie burgers, various meatless options, and tofu
- Nuts and seeds, favorites include almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
- Greek yoghurt
- Nut butters and nut milks
- Whole grain breads
- Fruit and berries
- Protein powders that I mix with frozen fruit and almond milk
So, eat more veggies, lift more weights, and dont starve yourself!