There is a lot of nutrition and diet information around! And there is a huge and intense focus on how much you eat … the “calories in, calories out” philosophy. This has gotten way too much attention. While this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s not the only thing that matters.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you’re actually eating and drinking and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy is drowning out research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong, limiting calories or carbs can certainly help you lose weight (see a post on how much you eat here) but that’s not the only factor for long-term weight management and maximum energy for everyone.
Purely focusing on how much we are eating hasn’t worked over time, and it’s really no surprise. The identical calories worth of candy vs whole foods has a completely different effect on your body. So don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” and “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
- Nutrient-dense carbohydrates. A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
- Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it here. Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.
Here is a meal plan with recipes and shopping list that can help you get started.
How you eat and drink
Also, pay attention to how you eat and drink. (Check out my other post on how you eat here).
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought. Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating.”
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. This gives your digestive system a chance to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes. This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less.
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest, and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don’t forget about drinking your food. Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!), but drinking our food can result in consuming too much, which can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong, a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal, not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoonful of healthy fat or fiber such as almond butter, ground flax or chia seeds. Check out these recipes to give you some ideas:
Summary: Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat.