The Truth About Diets - Part 2
Updated: May 4
If you haven't read part one already, click here!
To give you a refresher on our last part, we talked about how losing weight only comes down to being in a caloric deficit. The diet you eat does not matter, as long as you eat less calories than what you burn in a day, you will lose weight. In order to do this properly, you must scale and measure everything that you put into your food along with reading nutrition labels properly.
So now that you know that, in order to lose weight, you must simply be in a caloric deficit, how can we create the "perfect" diet for you to do this? Well, it starts from finding out the type of foods you like to eat. You see, the reason why so many diets fail is because people just don't enjoy eating the foods they eat. I mean, who really enjoys eating dry salad with chicken, broccoli, and rice, every day of the week. At the end of the day, if you don't enjoy what you eat, you won't be able to sustain it long term.
"Does that mean I can eat whatever I want?"
Of course not! Otherwise everyone would be lean and fit. The key secret to eating whatever you want and staying lean is called moderation and balance. If you love pizza, don't cut it out of your diet, but don't eat it every day either. Instead, have a slice or two every three days to treat yourself, but don't eat a whole large pizza yourself because it's your "cheat day". Speaking of cheat days, I believe that cheat days are largely unnecessary.
"But I need these cheat days, it's too hard to eat clean forever."
Now before you pull out your pitchforks, let me explain why. I believe if you feel the need or want for a cheat day, your diet is too restricted. If you love your diet and love what you eat, you should never feel the need to cheat. My problem with cheat days is that people overeat and binge during these days and end up gaining back those precious calories that they were trying to lose. It's difficult to control yourself once you start, but when you haven't had your favorite ice cream flavor in ages, you'll finish that tub in a hour. So to reiterate, don't cut foods you love out of your diet, find the foods that you love and eat them in moderation so that you won't feel the need to cheat out of your diet.
"Great, I love pizza but I just can't stop at one. I don't feel full after eating one or two slices, but I can't fit more into my diet plan either."
Now we come to the topic of satiety. You see, it actually doesn't matter how much calories you eat for you to feel full, it's about how full you feel. Many junk foods that we all know and love are packed full of calories, but you might find yourself feeling hungry again after two or three hours. This is because these foods aren't satiating as they lack the key nutrients that make us feel more full, like protein or fiber.
So how can you eat the foods you still love to eat, while remaining satiated? The answer is simple, eat other dishes with your meal that are low in calories but make you feel fuller. Foods that are filled with protein or fiber. Some examples of what you could eat with your meal can be a large bowl of all-green salad with some low calorie vinaigrette or even a bag of popcorn. Even a tall glass of water with your meal can make you feel more satiated by taking room in your stomach. While you might not feel absolutely stuffed after eating a slice of pizza and salad, you will feel satisfied, and that's what you want. You don't want to gorge yourself and eat until you don't want to eat anymore, you want to eat to the point where you're no longer feeling hungry.
This is especially important as you want to eat multiple small meals during the day, instead of two or three big meals.
"But wouldn't eating multiple times during the day make me more likely to overeat?"
On the contrary, eating 4-5 times a day will actually make you eat less. This is because eating multiple meals a day is proven to reduce your hunger levels, thus reducing the feeling of wanting to binge. The meals you eat throughout the day don't have to be huge meals. They can be low calorie snacks as well. This is especially important. Don't fill your household with junk foods that you know will trigger binge eating. Foods like chocolate bars, candy, chips, etc. Instead fill your pantry will healthier alternatives like popcorn, rice cakes, and fruits.
"But I thought you said we can eat whatever we want as long as it fits into our diet"
Indeed that still holds true. You can still eat a couple of chips and stay in a caloric deficit, but can you only stop at a couple? Food cravings are extremely common and many people have different types of trigger foods that promote overeating and binging. It's important to stop yourself before you even start and that begins in your shopping cart. Make mindful decisions and find alternatives to solve your cravings. Instead of eating chips, eat popcorn. Instead of drinking pop, drink diet pop. Instead of using sugar, use sweetener.
Although these alternatives won't be as tasty as the real deal, if it tastes 80% as good, that's all we need. The idea is to stop the craving and prevent ourselves from binge eating, by eating healthier alternatives that taste 80% as good.
To take this idea a step further, you can even further modify your food to be even lower in calories. Take pizza for example. Essentially, pizza is just tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings over dough. If you identify where most of the calories are coming from, it's mostly from the dough and the toppings, such as cheese or pepperoni. In the previous part, I talked about scaling your food and making it yourself. This is where you can apply that knowledge. There are a plethora of recipes online that have low calorie versions of your favorite foods. By making your own pizza, you can control the amount of calories that are in the dough and toppings. Doing creative things like using low calorie flatbread as your base and replacing pepperoni with turkey pepperoni. This may seem like a lot of work, but the calories you will save will add up over the week, especially if you eat the dish often.
So to recap, the secret to losing weight is to:
Be in a caloric deficit
Scale and measure everything that you put into your food
Learn to read nutrition labels and not be deceived by them
Eat the foods you love in moderation
Eat your meals with foods that are packed in protein and fiber to stay satiated
Eat 4-5 times a day
Replace your trigger foods with healthier alternatives to stop cravings
Modify and make your own food to have lower calories
At the end of the day, your diet shouldn't feel like a "diet". You should enjoy the foods you eat and not restrict yourself to certain food groups or cut the foods you love completely out of your diet. What I have shown you is a guideline on how you can create your "perfect" diet. One that you can maintain beyond your weight goal. A diet that doesn't cause you to bounce back to your previous weight once you lost it. A diet that you can use, for the rest of your life.
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