Last week I met with a new client to discuss some effective eating strategies.
Now this is a smart, successful, open-minded, exercise loving guy – who has engaged personal trainers multiple times over the years. And still this gent was confused by exactly,
What to eat to lose weight.
Which left me wondering just how many people find navigating the limitless conflicting food advice frustrating and overwhelming?
Low Carb. Low Fat. No Meat. All Meat… is Paleo your solution?
To fruit or not to fruit?
To detox or to intermittent fast… and for how many hours?
Dairy? Shakes? Juice? Alcohol?
Are egg yolks evil… or liquid health giving gold?
WOW… time out!!!
I’m going to keep this simple because I don’t want to add to food confusion.
Also because simple gets done.
You can make it as complicated as you like, however my experience is complicated-macro-nutrient-calculating-formulas are not sustainable. AND they are not necessary.
The simple silver-bullet-free solution is to keep it natural.
One Ingredient Foods.
Now of course 100% one ingredient foods 100% of the time would be a full time job to organise.
Life happens, and from time to time so does the need for a pizza with the lot… or a slice of your fav dessert…
=> Dependant on how lean you want to get and how quickly you want to get there natural, unprocessed one ingredient foods 80-90% of the time is a great guideline.
In a typical day my NON-one-ingredients include almond milk, nutritional yeast, vegan protein powder, Natvia and balsamic vinegar. Nothing too diabolical there right?
On the weekend I include a couple of generous servings of bread and something else yumbo from the bakery. Oh, and there’s a decent splash of red wine and vodka through-out the week too.
Perhaps your vices might be chips or chocolate or pasta… pretty much anything goes, the simple important factor is that the vast majority – 80-90% – of your fuel should be one ingredient goodness.
Vegetables. Nuts. Seeds. Beans. Fruit. Pulses. And of course Eggs and Fish if you’re vego.
If that sounds ‘limited’ or ‘restricted’ to you I’ve got 2 points:
Firstly, it really doesn’t need to be, once you get creative. The vast majority of my food is either veg, seeds or nuts as I eat plant based and have never really gotten into the carbie beans or pulse thing… and Yes I do also minimise my fruit.
Secondly, how limiting and restrictive is being stuck in a body that does not reflect the success you enjoy in other areas of your life?
Back to your simple solution:
=> Build your meals around a generous serve of fibrous veg. Choose multiple types and colours of these micronutrient rich and craving fighting veg. I include the starchier veg like sweet potato, corn, carrot… however I do prioritise free fibrous veg. Yes FREE (!) eat as much fibrous veg as you want. It’s only time consuming when you haven’t learnt the time saver tricks such as:
Buy mixed frozen veg + premixed salad leaves + undressed coleslaw… then add your fav fresh veg that takes a tad of time to wash, cut and maybe cook. Always make salads and veg in bulk so you’ve got a head start on your next meal prep.
=> Next add satisfying, sexy-lean-muscle building protein.
Steamed broccoli and asparagus with a baked sweet potato is awesome food. However it’s not a meal. I believe eating incomplete meals like that will catch up on you. Add 1-3 tablespoons of hemp, pumpkin or chia seeds plus a serve of nutritional yeast or spirulina OR for my vego friends follow it with my old fav egg white dessert (easy zero carb massive protein fix!).
=> Finish with yumbo, blood sugar stabilising good fats.
Common sense applies here with these more’ish high caloric density foods.
Waving a bottle of olive oil several laps of your salad isn’t going to do you quick weight loss favours… just as most of us don’t need to gobble nuts by the multiple handfuls or devour a whole avocado in a sitting.
You really can put away the measuring cups and scales once you deploy a little common sense with your good fats AND most vitally cut the fake processed fats from your regular eating. I genuinely eat more fat now than I ever have – not unlimited – but absolutely enough to feel indulgent. The important factor is, to prioritise good, clean one ingredient fats and to eradicate dirty processed fats.
The one ingredient approach makes the best and worst parts of every other eating plan immediately apparent.
GLUTEN FREE can be great – however its not carb free… AND if it’s packaged up with multiple other ingredients plently of which you can’t recognise, then it’s not one ingredient and it’s not on my 80-90% list.
DIET and LITE and HEALTHY are marketing ploys. Truth! If a packet has to claim any of these titles it’s likely fake, processed craving causing crap… AGAIN off the list.
VEGETARIAN or VEGAN might be an awesome ethical decision. However this vego of 20+ years is the first to admit it is not an easy way to get lean. The simple fact is once you cut meat and fish from your diet it gets a whole lot more challenging to limit your processed carbs and dairy and don’t even get me started on estrogen mimicking soy or those meat alternatives that have about 27 unrecognisable ingredients jammed into a fake, bland meat rip-off. A predominately one ingredient plant based diet is my personal choice – it works – it’s just not the easiest approach.
PALEO prioritises a lot of awesome one ingredient foods. Meat lovers rejoice – however, it’s not a free for all on steak, bacon and eggs. Also a commitment to feeding your body a vast variety of veg is required to counter the micronutrients lost when cutting out everything grains, legumes, dairy and well, you only sacrifice extra fat stores when you cut refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils so that is A-OKAY!
MEAL REPLACEMENT SHAKES are depriving your body of real food to instead feed it man-made rubbish. My caveat here is I do recommend a protein shake after weights training. That’s because this is not in place of a real meal AND a protein shake serves a real purpose of providing your body with a perfect amount of easily absorbed protein in that vital 30 minute post weights training window.
FRUIT is micronutrient rich AND high carb… specifically high sugar. I would never say, ban fruit however fresh is the go rather than juice, or dried or canned… and I’d set a 1-2 pieces a day limit.
So far as DETOX and FASTING, my opinion differs to that of some other fitness professionals I absolutely respect. I’m a routine girl. If either fit into your regular routine seamlessly – with out restriction or the post “I deserve” binge then they are both A-Okay proven strategies. However. I’m a fan of sustainable, non-restrictive, enjoyable, eating. As such I’ve never detoxed and never fasted and although that may change, I really can’t even imagine why I’d put my body and MIND through it when I don’t need to.
And there was… ALCOHOL. For me, specifically Shiraz. I draw attention to my love of wine because I want to emphasise that’s it’s normal and human and okay to have vices and completely realistic to expect to be able to enjoy your vices and still have the smokin body you want! Yes, there are better and worse choices.
White spirit like vodka is best purely from a body composition point of view as long as the mixer is zero carb, like mineral water.
Red wine is next best and it also has that anti-oxidant angle in it’s favour.
I have three key considerations with alcohol – from a purely body composition point of view that is:
1. The amount you choose to drink will affect how strict you need to be with your nutrition to get and stay lean. More booze = less food treats. Simple right?
2. Alcohol has a high caloric density and provides your body zero value for those calories so you want to ensure you’re not missing out on nutritious fuel just to get in that extra sauv blanc!
3. As alcohol is a toxin your body will prioritise metabolising it over everything else. That means the food you consume surrounding drinking is even more important. It should be the lean protein and fibrous veg your prioritise anyway, certainly not carbie, fatty pizza or chips or ice cream.
So a whole post later at the heart of that what do I eat to lose weight question the super simple solution remains: one ingredient foods.
Do you have a what do I eat to lose weight question I haven’t covered? I’d love to hear it.