Simplicity is key when it comes to healthy eating, muscle gain and especially fat loss. So how come so many individuals still struggle to lose weight? Because they’ve been led to believe that in order to lose weight, we must do countless of hours of cardio and starve ourselves.
We’ve been led to believe that certain foods are bad for us – as if the mere mention of them would make us gain weight – and that some foods are so virtuous that they’ll make us pop into shape after one bite. So we never get the balance right as we continue to endlessly copy others diets without adjusting the metrics to our lifestyles, body types and taste preferences. We’ve also been led to feel that unless you struggle and work extremely hard, you won’t get the results you want. Weight loss and getting in shape have been painted by the mainstream media with such a brush that for many, these goals seem unattainable and those who achieve them seem superhuman, therefore the average person won’t even begin to try. And often when they do try, it’s through ‘hacks’ and ‘cheats’ without realising the only person they’re cheating is themselves as every shortcut comes at a cost.
But what if I told you losing weight doesn’t have to be a struggle? What if I told you that you can eat the foods you actually enjoy and still lose weight while also ensuring good health? You really can reach your weight loss goal, look back with confidence and admit to yourself that it wasn’t hell. You will realise that you actually cruised through your journey and ate a high amount of nutritious foods without developing cravings or damaging your health or metabolism, which is a common side effect of reckless low calorie, food group depriving diets. A few simple things are necessary for success – high protein and vegetable intake and the reintroduction of intuitive eating through consuming unprocessed foods.
The simpler the meals and the more natural the ingredients the better. Your body knows how to digest and absorb macronutrients in their natural form, so try to feed your body mostly fresh food and, after a short while, it will run as smoothly as greased lightning. This way, when you do happen to indulge on processed snacks, your fast metabolism and optimally functioning digestive system will ensure a speedy processing of these foods. While unprocessed food can fill us up for longer due to superior glycaemic loads (GL) and a healthier impact on our blood sugar levels, feeding mainly on chemically altered ‘matter’, however, changes the way our bodies interact with its ingredients and can lead to a build-up of dangerous compounds.
By eating mainly fresh food and nutritious fruit and vegetables, you are giving your body the tools to fight illnesses and free radicals. You will be consuming health by the handful and, if doing so while listening to your body’s natural signals for hunger and thirst, you will also be able to achieve weight loss. Now, I must add that I firmly believe we should never choose our foods simply for their potential as a fat loss tool, health should be considered first (ie diet shakes, teas etc). And in the current climate, optimal health and wellbeing through diet should be everyone’s priority – the one way to strengthen your immune system from the inside out without the need for intervention from doctors.
As an example of the ‘cheats’ and ‘hacks’ I mentioned earlier, perhaps you remember IIFYM? ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ was all the rage several years back but, in its entirety, a recipe for disaster – people seemed to be going out of their way to ingest as many sugary snacks and processed, high fat, high carb ‘beige foods’. It all seemed like a competition in which participants tried to one up each other by creating the biggest, most outrageous meals and often with the least amount of protein – the actual building block of our muscles. Consuming nothing but processed sugary snacks and high calorie/carb/fat meals will result in poor health in the long term and in the short term your energy levels will be shot, skin and hair will look dry and your nails will crack. It doesn’t matter if you are achieving a calorie deficit and are losing weight – using such irresponsible methods will cost one dearly later on in life when the body becomes toxic and the individual starts to fall ill often. Modern diseases come from the modern lifestyle and way of eating – sugar, ready meals, heavy takeaways, convenience stores on every corner and an unbelievable variety of junk food wherever we look. Our bodies regenerate cells at a very fast rate, so what we eat becomes us. If this isn’t motivating enough to put a lot of greens and colourful fruit into our bodies then I don’t know what is. Even our taste buds renew every 10-21 days so this is proof of how fast we could entirely change our eating habits without looking back.
And that’s why the IIFYM movement was so short lived – despite the alluring weight loss promise while eating all the sugar, fats and salt to you heart’s content, who in the world eats chocolate, crisps and donuts all day and claims they’re feeling incredible? The thought of eating nothing but junk food makes me feel queasy if I’m absolutely honest with you. “Beige food” can be tempting and even enjoyable on occasions – I love a delicious woodfired pizza or a nice beef or vegan burger – but would you really want to make it your daily diet knowing that’s going to be the fuel for your body and the makings of new skin cells? Highly palatable food is really only good for one thing – making you crave more of the same while ensuring you have a high caloric intake with very few nutrients. And that’s why ‘everything in moderation’ will continue to be the best advice – first, you look after your body and then your body looks after you.
And here’s my proof of simplicity in action – the pictured breakfast took me about 2 minutes to put together. Scoop 200-250g Total 0% into a bowl, halve some cherries, remove the pit and add some mango. Et voila! 182kcal, 27g protein, 19g carbs with plenty of Potassium, Vit A, Vit C and Calcium. Natural sugars and protein for a nutritious and vitamin rich breakfast that will fill you up for hours. Let’s eat more food and not just matter!