Whenever we think about losing weight, we know that this can only be achieved through a combination of an improved diet and sufficient exercise.
Cutting calories is something that we are often almost obsessed about. However, what we seem to look at are all the things we shouldn’t eat.
We shouldn’t eat chocolate cake, we shouldn’t drink alcohol, we should walk past the muffins and leave them alone. As a result, we often cut all the bad things out of our diet, but we forget to replace these things with the good things we do need.
This, in turn, means that we often leave our body craving for essential nutrients, and that is actually very unhealthy.
So, let’s take this opportunity to look into what we actually need, the things we should eat in order to lose weight, rather than going over the things we should cut out of our diet once again.
Proteins, Carbs and Fats
The essential elements within our diet need to create a healthy body are proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. These are the ones that help us to create energy and build lean muscle tissue, rather than building fat reserves.
The problem is getting that balance right, which is where it once again comes in that we shouldn’t focus solely on calories. Take, for instance, a piece of sweetcorn. It is absolutely full of calories.
However, our bodies often struggle to digest sweetcorn, which means that we don’t actually use those calories. And that is where the real issue comes in: how does our body use what we feed it?
“The substitution of one macro nutrient for another has been shown in some studies to be statistically significant regarding the effect on the expenditure half of the energy balance equation, especially in high-protein diets.”
Stabilizing Blood Sugar
Experts agree that what really matters is to find a way for your blood to be able to deal with the sugars you give it (which includes carbs) in a balanced way. If your blood sugar rises too quickly, a high level of insulin is released.
When this happens, your body doesn’t actually burn any more fat. Additionally, as soon as you have used up the sugar, you will experience a crash, leaving you feeling hungry again!
As a result, you will eat more, thereby building more fat. This demonstrates very clearly why it is so important to have a stable blood sugar level.
Effectively, what matters is the glycemic index (GI) and its relation to carbs.
“The glycaemic index (GI) measures carbohydrates according to how quickly they are absorbed and raise the glucose level of the blood. A low GI diet may help a person with diabetes control their blood glucose levels. It may also help energy levels for endurance sports.”
It is important to consume foods that have a low GI. This means you need to stay away from highly processed foods, as these are often full of refined sugars.
Additionally, the way food is consumed makes a big difference on the GI. So, think about whether you can eat the food raw and liquid as much as possible. This is one of the reasons why juicing is becoming so popular these days.
Glycemic Index and Exercise
As said, we can only lose weight if we combine a healthy diet with good exercise. However, you also have to make sure that the two are combined.
Experts agree that it is best to consume something with a high glycemic level within 45 minutes of doing a workout. Indeed, this means that high GI foods are certainly not on the banned list.
However, this has to be within reason. For instance, it is never a good idea to eat a piece of sponge cake right after a workout, even if that is a product with a high GI.
Instead, you should choose natural sugars, like fruits. It is important to do this because your body will be better able to flow blood towards your muscles, which allows it to flush any toxins such as carbon dioxide and lactate from your muscles.
What Should You Eat?
So, what should we eat? We stated before that it is important to not just cut out the bad things from your diet, but also to replace them with things that are high in good fats, carbs and protein.
We now also know that we should consider the GI level of a certain type of food, and make sure we eat low GI during the day, with a small high GI snack right after a workout.
The main part of your diet, however, should consist of low GI foods.
“Include some of these foods in each meal or snack, but go for low-fat choices where possible, such as skimmed milk. If you want to lose weight, you’ll also need to watch your portion sizes. That means sticking to small servings of pasta and noodles, limiting yourself to two slices of bread with a meal, and having only a couple of squares of chocolate or a small handful of peanuts!”
Indeed, peanuts and chocolates are good examples of low GI food, but they have to be present in small portions. Instead, focus on eating lentils, apricots, apples, low-fat yoghurt, spaghetti and kiwi fruits.
Just after your workout, however, you should eat a high GI food. These include such things as french fries, parsnips, watermelon or white bread. You have to make very sure that you only eat a very small portion of high GI foods, as you can see that they are not the healthiest choices.
However, you can also lower the GI levels of these foods by adding something of the low GI category to the meal. This does, however, mean that you have to cut your portion size even more.
Unfortunately, getting your diet just right is incredibly complicated. However, with a little bit of research, you should be able to get it right for your own needs. Remember that losing weight isn’t solely about cutting calories, it is about making sure that your body gets all the nutrients it actually needs.