09 Nov How to Lose Weight WithOUT Dieting (Part 1)
If you’ve read my previous blog on how diets actually cause weight gain, you were probably nodding your head, thinking, “Yup, been there!” Many of you reached out and said that you had been struggling for years to lose weight and now you finally understood why. And that you now know that your struggle to lose weight wasn’t necessarily due to a lack of willpower but a lack of understanding how your body actually works. If you haven’t yet read this eye-opening blog, please do here. It’s an insightful lead into today’s blog. Because after you learn what not to do (hint…It begins with a D and ends with a T), it’s time to learn what you should do to naturally burn fat, boost your metabolism and lose weight for good!
Let’s be real. In today’s world, everyone from your co-worker to the know-it-all-guy at the gym to the latest celebrity claim to have the secret to losing weight permanently. Amidst all of the confusing fad diets, calorie counting, carb cutting and over-exercising, how the hell is anyone supposed to know what’s BS and what actually works? Trust me, I get it. I’ve been a professional in the health industry for almost thirteen years and even I have trouble blocking out all of the noise! But after teaching thousands of people how not to diet and get results with mouth-watering meals they actually love, here is what I know for fact: If you want to eat to lose weight, burn body fat, build lean muscle, increase your energy and feel your best permanently, you need to do these 3 things:
- Eat frequent meals that are balanced in complete protein, carbohydrates and fat throughout the day to prevent hunger and increase metabolism (we’ll cover how today)
- Go for clean, all-natural foods to create these balanced meals
- Stick with it by indulging in deliciously balanced recipes
Without getting too scientific (and boring you to death), let me break it down and show you how easy it can be to eat frequent, balanced meals. Have kids? Know any? Then you know how babies eat. A baby cries to eat almost immediately upon waking, continues to eat every few hours until bedtime, and feeds on breast milk (or formula) which is a naturally combination of complete protein, carbohydrates and fat. A baby also inherently knows to stop eating when he or she feels satisfied. Basically, we came into this world eating smaller frequent meals that left us satisfied (not stuffed to the point where we had to unbutton our onesies.) And our meals were balanced with protein, carbs and fat to fuel our bodies and provide sustained energy.
Makes sense right?
Here’s why. Glucose (which is sugar or carbohydrates, both the sweet and salty kind, broken down into their simplest form) is your body’s primary source of fuel. Your body’s job is to stabilize your blood sugar (or the amount of glucose in your blood) to provide energy. Stable blood sugar creates balance within our body and allows us to naturally release stored fat, protect our lean muscle mass (which boosts metabolism), increase energy levels and reduce sugar cravings.
Basically stable blood sugar allows you to get fit and feel the way you want to; full of energy without cravings.
So the obvious question is “how do I stabilize my blood sugar?” The answer is start with your food.
First, it’s critical to eat one hour within waking, particularly before exercise. While you sleep, your body has been on a fast and it’s natural to wake with low blood sugar. If you skip a quick breakfast, your blood sugar will drop and your body will burn muscle (see ya later metabolism.) You’ll also notice that by mid-afternoon you’re pretty miserable with cravings and fatigue, which leads to overeating the rest of the day. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to start taking breakfast seriously!
After breakfast, make sure to every three to four hours until bedtime. By eating frequently, you give your body the fuel it needs to burn energy and keep blood sugar levels stable. I don’t know about you, but if I go longer than four hours without eating let’s just say I get moody and I start craving either salty or sweet carbs like it’s my job. This is because when you skip meals your blood sugar drops, causing your body to burn its own lean muscle mass for fuel. Extreme hunger sets in, cravings take over and you end up eating anything in your path. And let’s face it; you’re not exactly craving chicken at this point. So you overeat, or over dose on carbs, blood sugar spikes too high and your body begins storing fat instead of burning it.
Take away: Eat one hour within waking and every few hours until you go to sleep to help to keep blood sugar stable.
Now what should you eat? In order to stabilize blood sugar, each meal or snack should have a balance of complete protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Complete protein refers to protein that comes from an animal or a hemp protein source (soy too, though I’m not a fan of it) and contains all of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) your body needs. Good examples of complete protein include organic chicken, turkey, ground turkey, fish, lean beef, low fat Greek yogurt or a high quality whey or hemp protein powder (which can be found in certain protein bars too.) Hemp seeds, chia seeds and quinoa are Vegan sources of complete protein too. What about nuts and beans? They are high quality, healthy foods, but you shouldn’t count them as your protein source in a meal because they do not come from an animal or a vegan complete source of protein like hemp/chia/quinoa.
A meal should also contain a small amount of carbohydrates (remember carbohydrates, whether bread, pasta, candy or fruit all break down into glucose or sugar in their simplest form.) If you skip carbohydrates (or sugar) your blood sugar will drop rapidly (makes sense, right?), sugar cravings will set in and the body is forced to burn muscle mass.
Here’s the thing… if you load up on the bad carbs like white pasta or cookies, your body will store fat. But a small amount of good carbohydrates in every meal will help you to burn fat. Eat natural sources like fruit, veggies, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and beans (see- beans are great but count em’ as your carbs). Even processed carbohydrates like whole grain wheat bread and pasta are okay once in awhile, though I prefer gluten free bread/pasta to decrease bloating and inflammation.
Lastly, it’s important to include a small amount of fat in every meal. If you were dieting in the fat-hating 90’s then you clearly remember binging on low-fat Snackwell cookies and lots of carbs (bagel no butter please.) You’ll also recall scratching your head in confusion from getting fatter while becoming hungrier (at least I do.) Turns out, a little fat in each meal is necessary to stabilize blood sugar because it slows the rate of digestion and keeps you satisfied until your next meal. Olive oil, natural nut butters, unsalted nuts and avocado are all high quality, heart healthy sources of fat. And of course the lower quality sources like mayonnaise, salad dressings, cheese (cheese contains a little protein too, but not a lot) all have a place in one’s diet in moderation.
How exactly does the combination of protein, carbohydrate and fats stabilize your blood sugar? If you hate science, feel free to skip this paragraph and just take my word for it. And if you like science, here you go.
Both insulin and glucagon work together to help regulate your blood sugar levels. Insulin lowers the blood sugar when it rises by helping your body absorb the sugar from your blood and move it into your cells to be used for energy. This rise in blood sugar is often caused by digesting carbohydrates (which break down into sugar) and a diet too high in carbohydrates can cause an overproduction of insulin and not enough glucagon. Glucagon has the opposite job of insulin because it helps to raise your blood sugar levels when they drop. Protein-rich foods help to stimulate the production of glucagon. While insulin helps to store the nutrients, glucagon actually releases the stored nutrients to be used for energy. The take-away? Having a balance of healthy, fiber-rich carbohydrates paired with quality protein allows blood sugar levels to stay in an optimal range. Where does fat come in? A little fat in each meal slows the rate of digestion and keeps you satisfied until your next meal.
This is why you’re starving after just snacking on a piece of fruit or carrot sticks. There’s no protein or fat to keep you stable! Same goes for if you just eat protein, or just fat…you get the idea!
Take Away: Start by building your meal with complete protein. Then add a small amount of healthy carbs and fat.
Last but not least: eat until your satisfied, not stuffed! Remember, you’ve got another meal coming in a few hours. If you don’t feel ready for your next meal, that’s a clear indication that you’ve eaten too much.
Take Away: Don’t stuff yourself. You should feel good enough to go dancing after a meal, not bloated and tired enough to fall asleep.
Basically, it all comes down to eating balanced meals every few hours. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Check out the picture at the top of this blog to see what I mean. The key to success is making sure that you are prepared- make chicken, veggies and a big salad in bulk for the week. Figure out which proteins, carbs and fats you love most and stock up at the market. And keep balanced protein bars and a high quality protein powder on hand for quick meals on the go. Pack your meals the night before for the next day. And stop making excuses. Bottom line is, you’re worth the time and effort it takes to fuel and nourish your body. You can do this.
If you found this blog useful, I have a favor. First, please introduce yourself in the comments section and let me know how I can help you achieve your nutrition and health goals. I know you must have some questions for me, so ask em’! Also please share this blog online (with the social media icons above or below) and tag a friend who could use some help too! Ready for Part 2: How to Eat Clean to Lose Weight? Get it HERE!