No matter what diet plan you’ve tried to follow, almost all of them will include deprivation at some point. Cutting an excessive amount of calories, and even entire food groups out of your diet, is not only incredibly difficult to stick to but it doesn’t always work for long-term weight loss. (Note: Many vegans, low carb of lifers and gluten-free folks would disagree about the whole food groups…but that’s for another article) Ultimately, the goal is to adopt a style of eating that is healthy but also realistic for the lifestyle you are trying to create… not just for a diet program or short detox. The great thing is that there are several ways you can actually eat more and still drop the pounds.
1. Adopt the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule says if you eat clean, healthy food 80 percent of the time you can indulge in less healthy choices 20 percent of the time. According to Health, this diet can be healthy as long as you learn to keep track of your 20 percent. The reason the 80/20 rule can work is that you can still eat most of the foods you like, just not all the time. Diets that require you to give up all your favorite foods can backfire, especially when it comes to stress/emotional eating. If you’ve eaten healthy all week, you can satisfy that craving and indulge a little on Friday night, but know you limits. Don’t let a cheat meal turn into a cheat week.
2. Make Sure Your Quantity is Quality
The quality of your food choices has a bigger impact than the quantity. The bulk of your diet should include a wide variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein. While technically you can eat junk food and lose weight, the quantity would need to be small. An average-sized candy bar and a small bag of chips boast a total average of 600 calories and won’t leave you feeling full for very long. There are a lot better ways to use those 600 calories. Four ounces of grilled chicken, a baked potato and a cup of steamed veggies has about the same amount of calories, but much greater nutritional content.
3. Mind Your Macros
Macronutrients are the primary molecules you use to create energy. Protein, fat and carbohydrates are considered macros. Most people focus on calories in versus calories burned, but that’s only part of the equation. Healthy Eater explains that the key to weight loss is learning how to count and balance your macros. That means possibly trading some of the fats and carbs in your diet for more protein. You need to make sure you’re eating enough protein to build and maintain muscle, enough carbs for sufficient energy and enough fats to stay full for longer periods of time. (more on counting macros)
4. Don’t Eliminate Carbs Completely
Too many of the most popular diets today, at least temporarily, eliminate carbs. Some even eliminate fruits. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years and it’s important to understand the different types so you don’t eliminate them completely from your diet. There is a big difference between whole and refined carbs. Whole carbohydrates contain lots of natural fiber, while those that are refined are processed and don’t have as much nutrient content. You don’t have to totally eliminate carbs, just keep the majority of your intake on the healthy side. (Now… if you are going low carb/high fat, Keto, etc, then this rule is not for you. I respect that many people swear by LCHF. To each their own.)
5. Be Smart About Exercise
Some people believe that if they exercise everyday they can pretty much eat whatever they want. This simply isn’t true. Prevention reports that you can end up eating more in extra food than you burn during a workout. It’s also important to remember that the time you put into a workout isn’t always as important as the type of workout you do. Interval training is a great way to burn more calories during your workout as well as boost your metabolism for several hours. An example of interval training would be repetitions of running at a moderate pace for two or three minutes followed by 20 seconds of sprinting.
It is possible to eat more healthy, quality food and lose weight if you know how to do it. Following these simple tips will help you to stay healthy without depriving yourself of the foods you love.