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Published on July 31, 2020

How to Plan for a Healthy Diet for Weight Loss

How to Plan for a Healthy Diet for Weight Loss

Amid a million diets, it leaves many people wondering: what does a balanced and healthy diet for weight loss look like? Is it better to eat high fat? Keto? Paleo?

While there are many different diets out there and it is true that some work better than others, there are a few staples to weight loss that rings true across the board!

If you have been wanting to lose weight for quite some time but are done with short-term and fad approaches, then this article is definitely for you.

Be prepared to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way while claiming back your energy like never before!

1. Know the Basics

I know you’ve heard the term before: calories in vs calories out.

While I don’t believe that is all there is to weight loss, it does play a part! If you are eating 3000 calories and burning only 2000 throughout the day, you will lose weight. But how exactly do calories work and how do they play into weight loss?

The first thing you need to know is this:

3,500 Calories = one pound of fat!

That means if you were to eat 500 calories less than you burn, you would lose roughly 1 pound a week. If you were to eat 1,000 calories less, you would burn 2 pounds of body fat a week.

Obviously, this isn’t all there is to it. If so, it would mean you could eat 1,500 calories of sugar and still lose weight, which is entirely untrue. However, it is important to understand!

A lot of people will eat healthily and think calories don’t matter. But that’s not the truth. If you are eating handfuls of nuts every day, you probably won’t lose weight very easily.

If you meet most people who say they eat healthily and don’t worry about calories, I can almost guarantee you that there are some secrets that they might not even know they are following that help them lose weight effortlessly. I’m about to show you some of those secrets in this article, but make sure you always remember this key.

Calories do matter, but the trick is to feed your body in a way that you feel satisfied off of fewer calories so that your body won’t trick you into craving more.

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2. Understanding Macros

The number one thing I tell people when they want to lose weight is to understand what macros are and how they affect your body.

First, what are macros? “Macros” is short for the phrase macro-nutrients. Unlike micro-nutrients (which are the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function), macros are the building blocks your body needs. Each one has a different function.

Protein

Protein is probably one of the most essential for weight loss, for several reasons. First, it boosts your metabolism by 15-30%[1]In addition to that, the more muscle you have, the higher your BMR (how many calories you burn at rest). Since protein is the direct “building block” for muscle, it can help you lose weight more long term.

In addition to those benefits, protein is digested slowly, which helps balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings throughout the day.[2]

So yes, protein is extremely important! However, if you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t lose heart. There are still plenty of high-protein foods you can enjoy while on a meat-free diet.

Carbs

Woah woah woah! Don’t go carb bashing just yet! As it turns out, carbs are an essential part of daily living![3] The problem, however, is that most people don’t know how to eat carbs while maintaining stable blood sugar.

More on that later. But for now, let me just state: carbs are not the bad guy.

Carbs are the body’s main source of energy, meaning they can actually improve your workouts and help you burn more calories overall.

In addition to that, carbohydrates contain fiber, which is essential for good digestion. And yes, fiber can help you lose weight as well by keeping you feel full throughout the day. Vegetables, which are comprised mostly of carbs, can contain many essential micronutrients that are necessary to lose weight long-term.

That being said, carbs are notoriously bashed for causing weight gain and that is true IF you are getting them from the wrong sources. However, carbs from the right sources can be extremely beneficial to weight loss.

Fats

Fats, much like carbs, can sometimes have a bit of a bad rap, although diets like keto and Atkins have slowly been changing that.

Fats are much higher in calorie density than any other macro, which means that a little bit can go a long way. Just four tablespoons of oil contain 480 calories, which is the same as 10 cups of watermelon! You can see how fats can easily get out of control on a weight loss diet. However, they also contain a lot of benefits, which means we shouldn’t cut them out entirely.

Much like carbs, the types of fats have a lot to do with the effect it will have on your body.[4] However, don’t underestimate powerful healthy fats. Omega-3’s, for example, are powerful anti-inflammatories and have a range of other health benefits.

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Fats are actually an essential part of hormone balance as well, which is key for most women on a weight loss plan.

These three Macronutrients are all essential. While you can easily cut out one of them for a while, cutting out any macronutrient long term can cause a lot of harm!

Know Your Right Balance!

Now that you know what each macro does and how it benefits you the most, the key is finding out what actually works the best for you!

For instance, some people tend to do better on fewer carbs while others thrive on more. However, as a general rule, when trying to lose weight it’s best to amp up your protein while slightly reducing both carbs and fats.

In other words, fill up on veggies, have healthy fats in moderation, and load up on carbs, like vegetables that have a low caloric density, which leads me to my next point.

3. Eat Foods at Low Caloric Density

I love this point! In fact, when I’m cutting out food, it is the rule of thumb that I live by. Why?

The most simple way of explaining it is that I enjoy food! Having a healthy diet for weight loss doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. I don’t like feeling like I’m walking around on an empty stomach all day. Another pro is that low-calorie foods tend to be full of nutrients, which make me feel amazing!

The easiest approach is to sub a few things out of your favorite meals. If you like pasta, for instance, try using veggie noodles as a base instead! You will very likely cut the calories of that meal in half while still eating the same portion size!

Go back to my reference of fat: 4 tablespoons of oil has the same amount of calories as 10 cups of watermelon. But which one will help you feel more full?

Adding more low-caloric dense foods, like vegetables, will help you feel full and satiated while still helping you get to the results you want!

4. Master Blood Sugar Balance

If you really want to become a fat-burning machine, it means mastering your blood sugar!

What is blood sugar? Blood sugar is the main source of energy (or sugar) found in your blood.[5] It comes from the food you eat, and it is essential at certain levels.

However, spikes in blood sugar can cause a huge problem! Foods that are absorbed quickly will cause blood sugar spikes and trigger an insulin response. This response will trick your body into storing more body fat and will create a sudden “drop” in blood sugar making you feel tired and hungry.

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Think of a time when you were a little kid and overdid it on the sugar! For a while, you had a surge of energy and felt unstoppable. But soon after, you felt tired, lethargic, and emotional. You just wanted more sugar!

The same thing happens in our adult bodies when we have sugar, white bread, or other high glycemic foods.

To keep it simple, it’s best to avoid sweeteners, white flour, white rice (any white food really), and other high glycemic foods entirely. Instead, get the majority of your carbs from vegetables and whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, or whole oats).

To become a powerhouse, make sure you add plenty of protein and moderate amounts of fats to each meal. Since these foods are digested slowly, they will release a steady stream of glucose and keep you feeling good until lunch. Just using these techniques alone will create a healthy diet for weight loss that you can easily follow!

I always tell my clients that this is the number one staple for any type of weight loss. If you have cravings, I can almost guarantee you that this is a primary reason why!

5. Let Water Do the Heavy Lifting

Did you know that if you were to follow a diet high in protein while balancing blood sugar and drinking tons of water, you would most likely lose weight naturally? It’s as simple as that, and it’s key to a healthy diet for weight loss.

Water can help do a lot of the heavy lifting for us by reducing cravings and boosting our metabolism. However, where most people struggle is remembering to drink water throughout the day. After all, we all know it’s good for us. Why don’t we do it then?

For those reasons, instead of telling you to drink more water (you already know that) I’m going to share some of my secrets on how!

Find a Good Electrolyte Mix

Electrolytes are essential minerals in our body, such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc. When we drink plenty of water or workout, our body can get easily depleted of the electrolytes we need and making us feel thirstier.

I can’t speak for everyone on this, but I can say that for myself when I’ve depleted my electrolytes, drinking water feels unappealing. Adding electrolytes is a quick and easy fix that makes water feel more quenching.

My trick is to add some electrolytes to my water bottle before I leave for the day. That leaves me craving water MORE, and it makes water more satisfying. Of course, this naturally leads to me drinking more water throughout the day.

One key is to make sure you find one without sugar. There are plenty of good brands out there that sweeten theirs with Stevia or are even entirely unsweetened. My favorite type comes in a bottle and is unsweetened.

Find a Large Water Bottle With a Straw

If it’s easy to access, we’re more likely to have it! This principle comes into play when we try and keep the candy trays off of our desks. However, the reverse also comes into play with things we should have!

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Keeping a large water bottle nearby with a straw will make it easy to sip throughout the day without keeping you from your work. My favorite ones are about a gallon in size, making it easier for me to sip without even realizing it!

Step up Your Water Game

I’ll be honest, I don’t really like to sweeten my water because it tends to make me crave more sugar. For this reason, I recommend using simple water flavors to give your water a boost.

If you have a good cold bottle of water with some electrolyte drops and cucumber, you probably won’t want to stop sipping away. You can even make flavored water with berries, lemon, mint, and plenty of other great additives!

I’ve found that staying away from sweeteners entirely has made my fitness progress way more successful.

If you absolutely HAVE to, I recommend using only water flavors that have stevia and monk fruit in it. Sugar and most artificial sweeteners will most likely send you down the wrong path with your nutrition.

6. Eat Frequently

Starvation diets don’t work. They will leave you hungrier at the end of the day and will only slow down your progress.

Make eating healthy meals a priority! That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow the 6 small meals rule of thumb, but it does mean that you should be careful not to eat skimpily throughout the day only to binge at night

7. Lastly, Track Your Progress

Wait, isn’t this an article about a healthy diet for weight loss? Absolutely! But one thing to remember is that psychology plays a huge roll in reaching your goals!

If you really want to get to where you want to be, it means keeping yourself motivated! Set a goal for yourself that excited and motivated.

What is the one thing that excites you? What would change if you reached your goal? How is not being at your goal affecting your life?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself and always remember before starting on your journey.

Keep track of where you are but in moderation. The best way is to track your body fat percentage once a week. This will keep you from getting discouraged and will show you how much body fat you are losing, even if you might be gaining some good weight from muscle.

Final Thoughts

I’m excited for your journey to health! Making a decision to live a healthier lifestyle is a pivotal part of most people’s lives. I can promise you that you won’t regret it!

More Tips for Weight Loss

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis via unsplash.com

Reference

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Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Last Updated on July 28, 2020

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

1. Quinoa

GI: 53

Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

GI: 50

Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

3. Corn on the Cob

GI: 48

Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

4. Bananas

GI: 47

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Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

5. Bran Cereal

GI: 43

Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

6. Natural Muesli

GI: 40

Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

7. Apples

GI: 40

Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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8. Apricots

GI: 30

Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

9. Kidney Beans

GI: 29

Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

10. Barley

GI: 22

Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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11. Raw Nuts

GI: 20

Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

12. Carrots

GI: 16

Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Greek Yogurt

GI: 12

Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

14. Hummus

GI: 6

When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

More Tips on Eating Healthy

Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

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