By Dave Tai (guest contributor)
There are a lot of diet fads out there, many exotic, some ridiculous, and a handful even harmful. Diet fads are attractive because they come with the promise of health benefits simply from changing the way you eat. The problem with these diets is that they are only a short term solution even if initially successful.
It is not easy to stick to a diet because it affects so many other aspects of your life. Your social life may be hurt because of odd eating hours, people might stop hanging out with you because you only eat carrots. Your body might suffer because you starve yourself silly, making you both angry and hungry. Simply put, even if a diet is successful, it is very often not compatible with our lifestyles and therefore not sustainable.
However there is no need to go to such extremes just to lose weight. Often times, small simple changes that are easy to abide by will go much further in evoking change. Stick to these basic guidelines, and you can have your three meals a day and still lose weight.
1. Chew on it
Chew again and again. After you’re done chewing, chew again! The first part of digestion begins not at the stomach but in your mouth, where the breaking down of fats and carbohydrates has already begun. By chewing thoroughly you will make your food easier to digest, allowing for better absorption of nutrients. Also when food is properly chewed it takes a smoother ride down your oesophagus, preventing damage to your throat lining. Most importantly, the secret weight loss benefit of chewing lies with your tricking your brain. By taking longer to eat your food, your brain will register that you are already full faster. So the next time you’re feeling hungry, eat slower not more.
2. Less Oil More Greens
This is something basic we all know yet fail to follow. I am not saying we should abstain from fatty and oily foods and live our lives like cows. We can always have our share of fatty or even oily food, but make sure it is balanced with fruits and vegetables. There is no need to go calorie counting like some health maniac either. Just have a good estimate of the ratio of oily food you’re eating against the greens you’re getting. Always make sure that your greens are on the higher end of the ratio and you should be safe.
3. Eat Small Regular Meals
(photo: joannova, a/k/a foodalogue)
Don’t worry I won’t force you to eat six to eight mini meals full of protein and fibre a day accompanied with health supplements. Three meals a day still work fine. However, in between each meal you can insert tea breaks, with something light like a sandwich. Doing this can help you reduce the intake of your ‘main’ meals. Having smaller meals will allow your body to more easily digest and absorb your food. Also, having something to eat every few hours or so increases your metabolism since you are continually working your digestive system to break down the things you eat.
4. GI: How low can you go?
GI (glycemic index) is a scale (with a maximum score of 100) that determines how fast and how much different types of food release glucose into your bloodstream. Foods with high GI scores induce a glucose spike shortly after consumption. This is great if you are recovering from a workout or preparing for training. However, most of the time you will not be experiencing anything intense so a high GI diet is not necessary. Even worse, it might induce hunger as your glucose level drops dramatically after the spike. Eating foods with low GI scores means glucose is slowly and steadily introduced into your bloodstream making you feel fuller over a longer period.
Some examples of foods with low GI scores include most fruits and vegetables (see the pattern?), nuts and whole grain products as compared to foods with high GI like white rice and white bread. It is not necessary to avoid rice entirely but simply adding in more food with low GI scores will go a long way.
5. Drink more water
The last and simplest rule: Drink more water! We are often so absorbed by our daily tasks that we neglect to drink water. Sometimes when you feel hungry, you may simply be thirsty and instead of a slice of pizza, a cup of water might be enough. When you go for your lunch break, more often than not you will end up drinking flavoured or carbonated drinks. Every time you do that you are drinking calories. Water provides a much healthier and cheaper option.
These five very simple tips do not require any extreme dietary or lifestyle changes. There is a very good reason why your mother told you to chew more, eat more vegetables and drink more water. Complement it with regular exercise and very soon you will be on your way to good health.
By guest contributor and fitness instructor Dave Tai.