The smart way to lose weight is not about starvation. It is about being so satisfied by filling, tasty, healthy food, that you do not want to cheat. Employing herbs and spices with the freshest ingredients, along with healthy fats is where it's at these days. One of the best strategies is to eat as many colors as possible to make use of the nutrients loaded in each.
Healthy foods are divided into three categories:
Healthy carbs start with vegetables. There are so many varieties of veggies that are more than just green. I do not know about you, but I find a lot of people rarely let a green vegetable prance across their plate. But they are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Some like Brussels sprouts are full of a surprising amount of protein. The antioxidant value of raw vegetables makes them a great anti-aging tool and they are fabulous for glowing skin. If you're not into green, there are lots of vegetables that are white purple, yellow, red and orange. Give them a try. By loading up on any of the 34 vegetables available, you'll be tightening your belt in no time.
Healthy carbs also include fruits and grains and most carbs contain around 4 calories per gram and are characterized by being digested quickly. The difference between good carbs and bad carbs is their fiber content and nutritional makeup. Whole grains fall into the good carbohydrates category along with vegetables and some fruits because they slow down your digestion which gives you that full feeling for longer.
Bad carbohydrates, include refined grains and cereals, baked goods, white bread, crackers and some fruits. They digest quickly and convert to sugar in your blood which gives you a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash. They usually provide little or no nutritional value and they can make you hungry soon after you have eaten them. You feel you need to eat something else which can lead to a rounder middle and an increased tendency towards diabetes.
There are so many yummy carbs out there that most of us eat more than we need. Our diets these days contain about 300 more calories than they did in the 1970's according to the CDC in Atlanta and most of them are processed foods. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that eating processed carbohydrates leads to potential weight gain, while the consumption of total carbs does not. So eat the good ones and slim down.
Healthy fats are also the foundation of a good diet. They help the body absorb all those phytonutrients and fat-soluble vitamins from all that rabbit food you'll be eating. Raw almonds are one of the best sources of healthy fats along with avocados, organic cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Healthy fats are filling because it takes longer for them to leave the stomach. When combined in a food, like avocado or almonds, you feel fuller longer as the stomach is where most people feel hungry when it is empty.
Surprisingly, in the International Journal of Obesity, people on a 35 percent healthy fat, low calorie diet, lost an average of 9 pounds over 18 months, versus a 6 pound weight gain on a lower fat diet. Just like carbs, eating the right balance of fats is important, especially if you are active. Good fats help reduce inflammation and circulatory problems. They also keep your brain healthy and research is showing that the good fats help reduce cancer risk.
Lean protein is the third and final healthy food group. Lean proteins include fish, vegetable proteins, some chicken, some turkey, nuts and soy products. Protein contains amino acids, which is actually what our bodies require to rebuild and maintain our bodies. There are twenty different amino acids, nine of which our bodies can not produce.
Protein, as a food, is much more satisfying in giving you that full feeling than carbohydrates or fats. Scientists show that eating protein stimulates and enhances the effect of leptin levels in the body. Leptin is a hormone that helps the body register and perceive fullness. If you eat less animal protein than most people you can still get hefty doses of amino acids from protein rich vegetables such as spinach, soybeans, peas, Brussels sprouts, beans, legumes, quinoa, asparagus, broccoli, watercress, yams, tomatoes, sweet corn, green onions, okra, mushrooms, zucchini and cauliflower.
Keep in mind though, not all protein rich vegetables have all of the amino acids you may need for health. For example, grains have a low lysine content while legumes have a low methionine content. By varying your diet during the day every day, you have the best chance to get all of the amino acids your body needs for repair and renewal, especially when you are losing fat. After all, if you are going to see a new thinner you, eating the right foods will ensure you are even healthier now and in the future.