I have recently Googled “diet”. There were over 117,000,000 results. Most of the information is contradictory. Here are the ten basic truths you must know if you want to lose weight for good.
1) There are thousands of diet plans. Yet when you get down to it there are just 3 types of weight loss diet plan. These are the low carbohydrate diet; the low fat diet; and the calorie counting (ie low calorie) diet. At the center of each is a reduction in calories. Don’t be scammed by a “new” diet that comes on the market. Look behind the detail and it will fall into one of the 3 basic diet types.
2) There is little evidence that supports one diet is better than another for long-term, sustained weight loss. Any diet, if carried through, should produce short- term weight loss. The key is sustainability – if you are unable to stick to a diet long- term, you won’t sustain long-term weight loss.
3) The word diet doesn’t help. Diet means the food and drink consumed by an organism. Every living thing on the planet is on a diet. However, we think of diet and dieting with regard to weight loss. In particular we think of “going on a diet” as a short-term measure to achieve weight loss. This is the wrong approach. Don’t go on a diet. What most people need is a permanent change of diet and lifestyle.
4) What changes are necessary? First, cut out refined sugar. No sweets, candy, cakes. You already know this. For most of our history sugar has been an extravagance. Think of it like that and consume it sparingly.
5) Next, cut down the starchy carbohydrates. We consume bread, pastry, potatoes, pasta, rice – the staples of most meals – far too readily. Carbs are an important food for energy. Pre industrial revolution many men performed physical labour, so an energy rich carb diet made sense. Today we mostly have a more sedentary lifestyle, yet we still pile up the carbs. In particular, reduce your heavy carb intake with your last meal of the day. You don’t need energy to sit at home and get ready for bed.
6) Cut down the fat. When is a food fatty? The key number is 4% - cut down foods with a fat content above 4%. Foods are labelled per 100g in the UK, so it’s straight forward to find foods that are more than 4g of fat per 100g. However, some foods are naturally fatty. Nuts and oily fish have a high fat content, but should form part of a well-balanced diet.
7) Red meat tends to be fatty. Look for leaner cuts, or low fat meats such as chicken, turkey or venison. Low fat meats are a good source of protein and are great for people who want to eat healthily. They fill you up and stop hunger pangs.
8) What else is good for us? Where possible, change to whole grain foods. They are more filling and are high in fiber. Have more vegetables. They are low fat, are high fiber and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Eat more fruit. Fruit provides natural sugars to satisfy sweet cravings.
9) Have smaller meals, 4-5 times a day instead of 3 large meals. Try to combine non-starchy carbs and protein in every meal. Have fruit as a snack.
10) You have to exercise. If this feels like a cheat in an article about diet, sorry. If you really want to lose weight you have to burn the calories you hold in addition to reducing the calories you take in. There are no excuses.
And that is the entire sum of weight loss diet information you will ever need. No gimmicks, no soft science. Just the 10 plain truths.
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