Eating for weight loss and overall health has become hugely complicated. There are so many conflicting diet ideas out there that it's no wonder people have no idea which one to follow. The truth is that you shouldn’t follow any diet plan. Instead, you need to build sound nutrition habits into your lifestyle. Only then will you be able to achieve sustainable long term weight loss.
The following 5 habits will allow you to bypass all of the diet nonsense and finally get on top of how to eat for weight loss and health.
Habit One: Eat 3 Times Per Day
Every time you eat, you raise your insulin levels. Insulin, rather than calories, is the real driver of weight gain. By keeping to 3 meals per day, you will be minimizing your insulin release. That means cutting out snacks, even if those snacks are healthy ones. Aim to have your breakfast around 8am, your lunch between 12-1pm and your dinner between 6 and 7pm.
Habit Two: Stick to the 1-2-3 Rule
The macronutrient breakdown of your 3 meals is important but that doesn’t mean that you have to count every gram. That would be an unsustainable way to eat. To keep it simple think of the meal on your plate as being divided into six parts. One part should consist of healthy fats, two parts should be protein and three parts should be made up of a low glycemic index carbohydrates (think plant foods that grow above the ground).
Habit Three: Lean Protein
With every meal, eat a quality lean protein. Protein is often thought of as a muscle building food. While it will help you to add and preserve lean muscle tissue, it will also help you to lose weight. Of the three macronutrients, protein will fill you up the most. It also has the highest thermic effect, meaning that it takes more energy in the form of calories to digest and absorb a protein food than it does a fat or carb based food.
Habit Four: Eat Healthy Fats at Every Meal
Dietary fat has gotten a bad rap throughout history. The truth is that you need all three types of fat in your diet - saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated - to achieve optimum health and control your body weight. Your fat content should be balanced three ways between them. Your overall fat intake should be one sixth of your total food intake.
Your preferred form of fats should be extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, and avocados. We also recommend taking a high quality omega 3 fatty acid supplement.
Habit Five: Intermittent Fasting
We have already mentioned how important controlling your insulin levels is to fat loss. The lower your insulin levels, the more fat you will burn. Every time you eat food, you release insulin so the longer you can go without eating, the more fat you will burn. You can make that happen by skipping breakfast two or three times per week. When you do that you are following an intermittent fasting protocol. Here’s how:
Let’s say you finish your dinner meal at 7pm. If you skip the following breakfast and eat your lunch at 12pm, you will have gone for 17 hours without any food. During the first 10-11 hours you use up all of the store glycogen in your body. Then for 6-7 hours your body has to rely on stored body fat for its energy requirements.
Focus on adding one of the five habits into your routine every week over the next five weeks. By the end of that time, you will have in place the foundation of a lifetime of sound nutritional habits that will allow you to achieve your goals.