Cut the Rubbish Diet Part I: What to eat and what not to eat
A natural and varied diet is key
Obesity is on the increase in the UK, often because of poor diet.
In terms of advising you what to eat, it's really not rocket science. Cut the rubbish and focus on a diet that's natural (the less packaging and ingredients listed the better) and varied (the more colourful the better), which will get you to regulate your appetite... naturally.
However, if I were to give one piece of advice on how to skew your diet in order to redress the imbalance you've operated with so far, it would be to increase the amount of protein in your diet.
Protein makes you feel fuller, takes more calories to digest and absorb (20 to 30 per cent of its calories, as opposed to five to 10 per cent for carbohydrates) and - with the right stimulus from exercise - enhances muscle growth and, as mentioned before, increases BMR. More on this later...
Simple, right? But it's not easy...
We live in an obesogenic environment, where we are literally bombarded with the temptation of unhealthy foods. Not only are they so easily available, they are also often cheap and taste so darn good!
And, as the nation gets fatter as a result, 'accepting your curves' becomes seemingly more acceptable. Which is all well and good, but don't fool yourself it's OK to be unhealthy.
Living in such an environment has lead us to become addicted to certain 'foods' that trick the body's natural biochemistry and lead us astray from the diet our bodies are designed to eat. We'll run through the main offenders.
Avoiding too much sugar can help most people improve your health.
Our bodies are designed to metabolise 25g sugar per day. Yet the average person consumes 136g per day! The result is a massive increase in insulin levels, the hormone that is responsible for promoting fat storage, preventing fat burning and stimulating hunger (not to mention diabetes).
To further compound things, sugar feeds bad yeast in our guts, fuelling its monopoly. So when you are craving sugar, it's not actually your body crying out, but the little critters wanting their fill. They couldn't care a jot if it's making you fat in the process.
And, for the record, this includes sugar from fruit. Artificial sweeteners are even worse as they register to our bodies between 200 to 8,000 times sweeter than ordinary sugar. Yes really. Cue the insulin tsunami...
Admittedly not as bad as sugar, but it does stimulate release of the dreaded insulin. The acidity of caffeinated drinks also creates a welcoming jacuzzi for those smug little yeast spores and other such bad bacteria.
Alcohol, including beer, is calorie dense.
It's fat sparing (you have to burn it off before you make inroads into your spare tyre). It inhibits the rational part of your brain (and so dramatically increases the chance of you going off the rails, undoing all your hard work in one foul swooping binge). It is very calorie dense (one glass of wine=126kcal, one pint=215kcal, one alcopop=237kcal). Sorry.
These are fats that have been altered by heat or processing in such a way that the body doesn't recognise them and so stores them.
They are common in fried foods and low-fat spreads. Don't believe the rubbish in the margarine ads. Natural fats are your friends in moderation (butter, lard, natural oils e.g. olive oil, nuts, avocados) as they are calorie dense.
You need to make a commitment to make a difference
So, as you can see, we are facing an uphill battle in the quest to gain back your control of our appearance and health.
Therefore, if you are serious about losing weight you need to make a serious commitment to it. It's not going to just happen.
Protein-rich foods, such as fish, can help surpress hunger.
Using the Chimp Model
In my final article, I will list a number of behavioural and psychological 'hacks' based largely on the 'Chimp Model' developed by Dr Steve Peters, the psychologist for all-conquering British Cycling squad.
He advocates nurturing your self-sabotaging demons (i.e. the chimp) to get them onside and so dramatically increase your chances of success.
Click here to go to the final article.
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