If your goal is to lose weight, then the one thing you must do is start eating right. Although exercise is also important to keep your body healthy, the truth is that no amount of exercise can counteract a bad diet. On the other hand, with a healthy diet, you could lose weight even with zero exercise! However, combining a smart eating plan WITH an exercise program will surely maximize your efforts.
I mean, if we’re going to do this thing…let’s get the most bang for our buck, right?
Everything starts with what you eat. Clean eating will help your body perform at its best and vital in achieving your caloric deficit, which is necessary for weight loss.
Caloric what-i-cit? To lose weight, you have to expend more calories than what you eat. That difference is called a “caloric deficit”. But it is important to not just start fasting, especially when you’re doing some sort of workout as the body needs good nutrition in order to operate in a healthy way. That’s where clean eating comes in.
Although it can seem confusing when you start trying to improve your eating habits, this doesn’t need to be that difficult. Whether you have some knowledge of healthy foods or you’re starting fresh, here’s some good steps get you on the right track.
1. Getting Rid of Junk Food – A big part of eating healthy is eliminating junk food. That includes candy, pastries, soda, chips and fast food. This isn’t easy if you’ve been eating junk food for a long time, but you must do it if you want to lose weight.
Unfortunately, the ingredients in and way junk food is made makes it just about impossible to lose weight when eating it. These foods are packed full of calories while having little, if any, nutritional value. They don’t fill you up that much, which means you’re encouraged to eat more – hence why you keep wanting another handful of chips after you’ve just had one.
The high calorie content of these foods and the way they leave you wanting more means they’ll completely derail your weight-loss efforts. Most junk food are also high in fat and cholesterol which we know are also not good for our body. If you’re serious about eating healthy, you need to get rid of any junk food you have and stop buying it.
Does that mean you can’t ever eat some pizza again? Well, there are a couple schools of thought on this. The first is that you should never eat fatty foods again. But seriously…how realistic is that? The second approach is that you can have certain foods in moderation. Meaning that if you’re eating healthy 90-95% of the time, you can enjoy a favorite food here and there. Oftentimes what ends up happening is that once you start exercising and working out, you’ll find you crave the fatty foods a lot less.
2. Building Clean Eating Habits – People who are new to eating healthy often think that they’ll need to eat plain, boring foods. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You can make all kinds of delicious, healthy meals that are full of flavor. You just need to know the right foods and some good recipes.
The most important quality you should look for in food is that it’s natural, not processed. A good rule of thumb is that if it comes from either an animal or the earth, then it’s something you can eat. This leaves you with a HUGE variety of foods.
You’re going to need enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy, unsaturated fat. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of carbohydrates, and they’re also full of vitamins and minerals. You should get multiple servings of each per day, and make sure you eat fruits and vegetables of different colors. Different colors generally means different vitamins. Pretty easy to remember eh?
Lean meats provide plenty of protein, with chicken breast being the best meat in terms of the protein to fat ratio. Fish is another good meat, and it’s also a source of healthy fat. Other healthy fat sources include olive oil, avocado and dairy products.
Those are just some examples of healthy foods you can try, but it’s good to experiment, as well. If you’re unsure what to make, try looking up some healthy recipes online to get ideas.
3. Setting a Caloric Deficit – Despite how difficult losing weight can be for many people, how it works is simple enough to understand. All that really matters for weight loss is your calorie intake versus your calorie expenditure. If you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming every day, then you’ll lose weight.
The good news here is that there are all kinds of tools to help you keep track of your calories. Start by entering your information into a calculator for your basal metabolic rate. That’s just the number of calories you burn naturally every day. Now, an online calculator probably won’t be 100-percent accurate, but it will give you a good idea of how many calories you’re burning. Remember to factor in the additional calories you’ll burn from any exercise you do.
You can see how many calories you’re consuming with your regular eating habits through a calorie counter app. This makes setting a caloric deficit for yourself much easier.
When you’re starting out with clean eating, it’s good to do some calorie tracking to ensure you’re not eating too much. In time, you’ll get a better idea of how much you can eat to maintain or lose weight without needing to keep track of every calorie.
4. Practicing Portion Control – Once you’ve completed the three steps above, you’re almost good to go. The last thing you need to do is make sure you’re practicing proper portion control. Ideally, you should leave each meal feeling satisfied and not hungry, but without needing to overeat to get there. They even sell portion control plates now to make this even easier. As you can see by the picture of one…
There are sections in the plate where you put your different types of food. Or you can get really dialed in and use a food scale to measuring each serving of food when you’re starting out, until you learn how to eyeball the proper portion sizes.
If you’re somewhere that you don’t have access to a scale or one of those portion plates, a good trick you can use is to serve yourself portions that are about the size of your fist. 1 fist for proteins and starch, 2-3 of vegetables.
After eating your original serving, avoid going back for seconds right away. A reason people overeat is because they eat too quickly and don’t give their stomachs time to tell their brains that they’re full. If you wait five to 10 minutes after you finish a meal, you’ll often find that you feel full with the food you ate. We’ve all overeaten at some point in time and that is definitely NOT a comfortable feeling nor is it good when you’re trying to lose weight.
Here’s an additional tip: Drinking a glass of water before you eat can help you reduce your desire for additional portions, because the water makes you feel fuller. Of course, drinking water is also very important for your overall health, and you should be drinking it throughout the day.
There you have it. Four steps that will help improve your eating habits and put you in a great position to get in the best shape of your life, provided you stick with them.
At first, it may feel like a major adjustment. Just give it time. When you eat better, you’ll start to notice that you also look and feel better. That success will help you continue on your weight loss journey. By combining these healthy eating tips with consistent physical activity, you’ll build the body of your dreams.