Client Question: What foods will make me lose weight?
I get this question a lot as a personal trainer… How awesome would it be if I could tell you there were special foods with this amazing power? In a sense there are. But most of us eat so much other junk that we don’t have room for the really good foods. So, to clarify, there are no magic foods that will make you lose weight. BUT, if you eat WAY MORE of the good foods (in reasonable portions) and WAY LESS of the bad foods, you’ll lose weight. There are so many foods that fall into the “good foods” category. The trick is being on top of your game so you don’t grab the “bad foods” in a moment of weakness or ravenous hunger.
In the interest of keeping this post concise (and not lecturing everyone on the downfalls of the American diet), I’d like to provide a list of foods that we all can and should eat frequently. I operate with the belief that if you put more good foods in your body there won’t be room left for the bad ones. So it’s not a matter of deprivation. If you eat the good stuff 80%-90% of the time, it’s okay to treat yourself here and there. Also, there are some really amazing healthy treats (dark chocolate anyone?!)
EAT MORE OF THESE:
Veggies: all kinds, colors, shapes and sizes. Don’t give me any lip about “I don’t eat carrots or corn because they’re high in sugar.” If you’re worried about the sugar in vegetables, you’re likely eating a lot more sugar somewhere else in your diet. Try to add new veggies to your diet every week. Take 10 minutes to find a new veggie recipe online each week. Dip raw veggies in hummus instead of ranch. Cucumbers + hummus = BLISS!
Lean Protein: fish, turkey, chicken. How you prep your protein makes all the difference. Throw out the butter and creamy sauces. Use your grill, use a little olive oil/sea salt/cayenne/lemon or simply bake your meats naked, dice them and toss them into your food dishes.
Beans: black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, lentils, white, navy, lima. Add them to salads, grains like rice and quinoa.
Protein Shakes: whey protein, hemp protein, brown rice protein. Protein shakes are not just for body builders. They will not make you bulk up. They will, however, fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours. Plus, you can make them with all sorts of other good stuff: milk, fruits, veggies, nut butters (use sparingly.) DO NOT add ice cream or fruit juice to your protein shake unless you’re looking for extra calories, fat and sugar.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans, soy nuts, pepitas (my favorite!) are all great sources of protein and great snacks. That doesn’t mean you should eat them by the handful, but one handful (about a quarter cup) mid-day with a piece of fruit is a perfect snack!
Fruits: Challenge yourself to eat new and different fruits. If you eat the same two or three all the time, mix it up a little. Notice what is fresh and in season. Berries are especially great as they contain so many antioxidants. Add berries to cereal, protein shakes, yogurt. In the winter when berries are out of season you can get them in the freezer section of the grocery store. This is perfect for protein shakes.
Grains: rice (try Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley!), quinoa (tons of protein and fiber!), kasha, millet, whole grain breads and pastas. AVOID THE WHITE GRAINS! Notice the fiber content in your grains. Grab the high fiber options. High fiber = fuller, longer!
STOP THIS NOW:
Mindless eating: Notice when you eat and why you eat. I’m horrible with food prep. I like to snack the entire time I’m making a meal. So baby carrots and snap peas must be within arms reach at all times. Otherwise, my mouth fills with chips and crackers without me even knowing it. Notice other times you might mindlessly snack – in front of the computer, in front of the TV, while talking on the phone. If you’re a mindless snacker keep “safe” snacking foods on hand. This is essential!
Drinking your calories: See my blog post on Starbucks drinks! It is EASY to drink an extra 1,000 calories a day in pop and coffee drinks. These certainly don’t make you feel full. Many of them stimulate hunger, so they are DANGEROUS. If you are trying to cut calories, this is one of the first and most important places to start.
Going more than 4 hours without food: Snacking is not a bad thing. Eating three meals a day, 6 hours apart is actually too long to go without stimulating your metabolism. You’ve heard it a million times: eat smaller, more frequent meals. Beware, this does not mean eat more meals without downsizing your main meals.
100% carbohydrate snacks: if your snack is all carbs it will not keep you full. Add protein to EVERY meal and snack! It doesn’t have to be the whole snack, just a portion. If you pair carbs and protein you’ll stay fuller longer, as protein takes longer to digest. Snack suggestions: apple and 1 Tablespoon nut butter, dried apricots and 1/4 cup almond, pear and string cheese, yogurt and berries, cottage cheese and fruit(or my fave = cottage cheese and peas. I know, it’s not for everyone!), veggies and hummus, snack bars (Zing bars, Larabars, Clif Builder Bars).
Google recipes to find creative ways to prepare healthy foods. It really does NOT have to be bland and boring. There are TONS of recipes online. If you want a nutritionist support, I highly recommend Mary Purdy of Nourishing Balance (www.nourishingbalance.com). She is my nutritionist and she is amazing. She helps me eat creatively with my loooong list of food sensitivities. Every time I leave her office I am so excited to try a handful of easy, healthy new foods.