Why you're still fat: top 5 dieting mistakes
You've tried to clean up your diet countless times before, yet each time ended up disappointed with the ratio of results to effort. Why? You probably committed one of these 5 cardinal sins of good nutrition.
The truth is, you can eat an awesome diet, feel full, have tons of energy and still lose ~1% of your BW per week.
You can't do that if you're making these mistakes though...
The cure for this is simple really, just start making a habit of seasoning your food. Eating clean should be a chance to appreciate the full flavours of fresh, natural ingredients, not a prison diet of dry chicken breast and sad, steamed broccoli. It’s not just the miracle of hiding a stick of butter in a half cup of spinach that makes restaurant food taste good; salt, spices, herbs, and pepper go a long way.
Cutting down on processed foods helps you avoid nasty chemicals and an excess of sugar and salt, but you still need to add seasoning to your food to make it taste good. Ironically, heavily preserved food often loads up on excess sugar and salt in order to mask the real lack of taste. When you take all that away, you can start to appreciate the unique flavours of fresh ingredients, herbs, spices and quality ingredients.
You can still add salt and even small amounts of sugar or other sweeteners, but you don’t want - and shouldn’t need - to rely on them for taste. Spices, herbs and extracts are all very potent sources of flavor that can be used in small quantities and therefore don’t add significant calories. There are tons of incredibly low calorie flavours, you should never get bored.
If that wasn’t enough, many spices are packed with nutrients and super powerful antioxidants, like tumeric which has been touted for fighting off practically every ill from cancer to depression.
- Sea salt
- Kosher salt
- Soy sauce
- Red pepper flakes
- Black pepper
- White pepper
- Smoked paprika
Herbs (good fresh or dry)
- Curry powder
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Chinese 5 spice
- Lemon or orange zest
- Hot sauce
Also, small amounts of strong flavoured stuff can also add a lot of flavor with little calories. Try a sprinkle of good Parmesan or goat cheese, a few pine nuts, a dusting of cocoa powder, etc.
Pro tip: Check out local ethnic stores for better deals on spices, herbs, and spice blends, as well as more interesting selection and inspiration
There are also plenty of condiments you can use on a diet. Again, if you go for flavorful foods, a controlled portion goes a long way.
Here’s a list of healthy condiments to spices up your food:
- Guacamole (homemade!)
- Hot sauce/tabasco (no sugar added)
- Tapanades (olives, sundried tomato, come up with your own)
- Curry pastes
- Coconut milk
- Homemade chutneys & dips
For a lot of my clients, food comes from two polar extremes: on one side there is the fried and well-preserved, that would be french fries, frozen dinners, deli coleslaw. On the other side there is raw or steamed broccoli and chicken breast, maybe some raw unsalted almonds if they are not of the opinion that all fat is a silent killer. Lack of adequate info on nutrition is not the only reason for this outlook; lack of cooking knowledge is probably even more important.
The trick is really to cut down the amount of calories, and often oil, not cut them out completely. Besides steaming, you can roast, saute, braise, poach, etc. Simply using a pastry brush or olive oil spray can greatly reduce the amount of oil needed to cook anything from eggs to veggies. Adding a sauce is not forbidden. With proper technique (and quality produce), you might start to prefer your veggies to the ones drowned in butter.
Easy Spicy Veggie Mix
- Peppers (mix up the colours and even through in some hot ones)
- Any vegetable you like!
Heat oven to 400. Chop veggies. Toss with olive oil, salt and liberal amounts of chili powder. Bake to desired crisp. Serve this on top of hamburgers, in tacos, tossed in with a green salad, etc.
Veggies should be part of a meal, they’re not a meal in themselves. The same goes for chicken breast. Or oats. This tip is very simple. When you sit down to eat, aim to include protein, carbs, fats and vegetables. Make a meal out of your food and you won’t be starving all the time. Check out the fat loss pizza for a quick and easy recipe.
Similar to balance, it’s another reason why veggies are not a meal. Even when you are eating healthy food, you still need to eat enough food to feel full. I routinely get clients coming to me complaining they cannot stick to a diet. When I take a look at said diet, I see meals like the one consisting of 4 egg whites and a couple carrot sticks. That’s under 100 calories, yet it’s called a meal. Most people can take 400 calories for a meal, not a daily allowance.
It’s true it can be a little tricky to find balance, since if you are trying to lose fat, you do need to undereat on a certain level. But that doesn’t mean starving yourself. It’s better to go with a moderate plan that you can stick with in the long run, than to fall victim to a quick fix that doesn’t last. Weighing and logging all your food using a program like cron-o-meter is a great way to be sure you are falling in a reasonable calorie range for your goal. Aim to eat protein, carbs, fats and veg in most or all meals, and you should hit decent food quantity.
The idea of clean eating in itself is a little wacky. Everyone has their own definition, saying you should “eat clean” is about as bold and unambiguous as saying this country needs to practice “sound economic policy.” It might mean paleo, organic, gluten free, low carb, or any number of trends that don’t even usually adequately describe the foods they allow. All those diets might have their virtues (or not), but it does not change the fact that if you want to lose weight you have to cut enough calories.
On the other hand, certain foods are more filling than others; look at 300 calories in apples versus twinkies. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to eat 300 calories in apples (or twinkies), regardless of your goal. Eat balanced meals from natural, filling foods that you like and stick to a reasonable calorie range that matches your goals.