When it comes to losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle, the first thing many people think about is going to the gym or working out.
And there’s nothing wrong with adding exercise or physical activity to your daily routine.
However, exercise isn’t the number one factor in whether a person is able to lose weight or not.
By far, the biggest area where you can succeed or fail in losing weight is your diet.
What you eat has far more bearing on your weight than the amount of exercise for the average person.
Look at it this way: Losing (or gaining) weight operates by pretty simple math. If you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you burn more calories than you take in, you’ll lose weight. But why isn’t exercise the best way to make sure you burn more calories than you take in? The answer lies with the cornucopia of delicious, ultra-high calorie foods available to us on a daily basis.
The Calorie Math
Let’s say you spend 30 minutes at the gym on an elliptical machine. That might burn around 350 calories. Feeling good about yourself, you go to a fast food restaurant and get a burger, large fries, and large soda. That could add up to over 1,400 calories alone! The average person needs around 2,000 to 2,500 calories each day overall. So, your gym and fast food dinner combined still might have taken half your daily calories.
The bottom line is that you can work out all you want, but if you’re not exercising control over your diet and making smart choices, the pounds will stubbornly stick around. That’s why if you’re serious about losing weight and getting fitter, it all starts with your diet.
Tips for Creating a Healthy Diet
If eating healthy were easy, everyone would be doing it. But the sad fact of the matter is that it can be tough to stick to a healthy diet, especially if you’re used to eating calorie-dense foods.
Part of the problem with dieting is that too many people go about it the wrong way. They set unrealistic standards or neglect certain foods or ignore little tips and tricks. What they end up with is a diet that makes them miserable every day, and they inevitably end up quitting and going back to their old ways of eating. The following are some best practices that can help you create a diet you can stick with for the long haul.
It Starts with What You Drink
When most people consider their diet, they limit it mostly to food. This can be a big mistake. For certain people, a significant source of calories comes from what they’re drinking. It’s fairly common knowledge that alcohol can lead to weight gain – After all, the ‘beer belly’ is a stereotype for a reason. And by now, most people are aware that drinking lots of soda add major empty calories.
But certain ‘healthy’ drinks can be just as big a problem. For example, many people are under the impression that juice is wonderful for you. To some extent, the juice is fine. It’s a source of nutrients and vitamins. But it’s also usually swimming with sugar, and the calories add up quickly.
Similarly, many people think that all teas are healthy. While tea brewed using leaves and water is zero calories, canned or bottled teas are often brimming with calories. And finally, that trip to a coffee shop is fine if you’re getting a regular coffee with a bit of cream and sugar. But many of the concoctions filled with whipped cream, syrups and dairy are calorie bombs.
As much as you can, stick with water, tea brewed from leaves and no-frills coffee. If you can keep most of your beverages in this group, you’re saving your calories for food, leaving you feeling fuller over the course of the day.
Spicing Up Your Food Choices
Eating healthy doesn’t mean three salads a day. For some people, the idea of eating healthy means a steady stream of bland and unfulfilling foods, and that’s a shame. The truth is that it’s possible to construct wonderful and varied meals that are low in calories, as long as you stick to certain guidelines.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure everything out from scratch. If you’re looking for inspiration, resources exist online that can help you out. The article from HCG Diet entitled “156 HCG Diet Recipes For Maximum Weight Loss” shows that you can eat foods that are easy to make, taste great, and still fall within the guidelines of a diet. These and other online recipe guides can give you a great start at eating healthily.
If you want to design and construct your own meals, here are some useful tips.
Veggies are Your Friend
The association between weight loss and salads has an element of truth to it – Vegetables are among the most nutritious and low-calorie foods in existence. But eating vegetables doesn’t have to mean throwing them into a bowl and drizzling a little dressing on.
Vegetables can be grilled either on the stovetop or out on the grill to add flavor. They can be substituted for pasta or noodles with almost no difference in taste. They can take the place of rice, potatoes, and other starches.
Stay Away from Refined Carbs and Sugar
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating meat and other proteins in moderation while trying to lose weight. In fact, protein is essential when it comes to a balanced diet. A good, healthy diet should include plenty of protein to go along with vegetables and fruit. There are two things you’ll want to try to avoid, though – Refined carbohydrates and foods packed with sugar. The problem with refined carbohydrates is that they pack a huge caloric wallop per serving in comparison to lean proteins, fruits, and veggies. While white bread might be delicious, it’s also going to take up your allotment of calories in a hurry.
The same goes for sugary foods, which are similarly caloric.
Worse, most high-sugar foods won’t even fill you up, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied. Avoid sugars and refined carbs as much as possible.
While it might seem daunting, creating a healthy, weight loss-friendly diet is easy if you know what you’re doing.
First, you need to understand that diet is the single biggest factor in weight loss.
Then, if you have an issue with drinking your calories, fixing that behavior.
Finally, designing meal plans that are both healthy and tasty to keep you happy and full.
Following those steps will put you on the road to a healthier and happier lifestyle.