Contributed by Optimum Nutrition
The initial phase of any weight loss program is to make small adjustments to your existing diet. These changes can often be sufficient to make a significant impact over time and contribute to your overall fat loss strategy.
1. Cut back on all portion sizes
2. Eat low GI carbohydrates
Low GI carbs increase feelings of fullness, delays hunger in the evening and reduces insulin demand. Avoid all processed carbs including honey, sweetened yoghurts, all cereals except oats, fruit juice and dried fruit. Replace refined carbohydrates such as white bread, potatoes, white pasta, and white rice with low GI carbs such as whole grain bread, brown rice, fibrous vegetables and beans.
3. Keep your protein intake high
Protein will help to maintain your lean muscle mass whilst reducing your calorie intake. Protein can also help to increase feelings of fullness and reduce cravings for sugar. You need to be aware that some sources of protein such as red meat, processed meats and pork can provide additional unwanted saturated fat. You should aim to eat some protein with every meal and switch from carbohydrate snacks to high protein snacks. Drip feeding your muscles with protein throughout the day is far more beneficial than eating half a chicken in the evening. Eat protein from a variety of sources. If you cannot achieve your protein intake goals, use a quality supplement such as Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein for a quick, easy and delicious alternative.
3. Reduce the use of sports drinks and bars
Sports drinks and bars are high in sugar or high GI carbs which is great when you need an energy boost. However, if you are trying to lose body fat, try to stick to a low-calorie electrolyte drink during training. Only consider drinking sports drinks after hard sessions lasting longer than 90 min and you are unable to eat a proper meal within 60 min of finishing the session. Alternatively, low calorie energy drink (10kcals) such as Optimum Nutrition’s Essential AmiN.O. Energy provides an anytime boost from caffeine as well as the additional benefit of essential amino acids that help preserve your muscles from catabolism during hard workouts.
4. Increase your intake of vegetables and reduce your intake of fruits
Fruits contain natural sugars and therefore have an influence on your ability to lose body fat. You should aim to be eating a maximum of 3 pieces of fruit a day (pears, apples, plums, grapefruit, cherries, oranges and grapes are best) and 6 portions of vegetables. The natural sugars in fruit are very good at refueling energy supplies so time your fruit intake around your training sessions.
5. Increase intake of dairy products
There appears to be a strong link between calcium and diary intake on weight management. Increase your intake of yoghurt such as fat free Total Yoghurts, Neo Valley yoghurts, skimmed milk, Rice milk, Goats milk and low fat cottage cheese. Be careful to avoid fat free alternatives that have added sugar to compensate – always check the food label.
6. Eat slowly
Chewing your food properly, particularly meat reduces digestion time and increases the time it takes you to eat your meal. In sociable eating environments it is often tempting to continue eating if you have finished before everyone else around you. It also gives your stomach sufficient time to send messages to your brain to let you know you’re full.
Don’t feel like you need to clear your plate. Stop eating once you are full. This is a difficult habit to get into. Reducing your portion sizes will help with this. If you are really hungry before your meal, try eating a small snack such as raw vegetables with humus dip or start your main meal with a soup. This stops you annihilating your food the minute you sit down!
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