Damien Maher: Eating for fat loss
Damien Maher explains the importance of nutrition to your fitness goals.
When most people think about losing weight or getting in shape, they think about exercise. They sign up to a gym, hire a personal trainer, start walking or grab a book or a magazine to find a workout plan.
While exercise is a crucial part of losing weight and getting healthy, it's not the most important part — nutrition is, and the evidence is scattered throughout gyms in Ireland as many people try to out-train their bad diets. It just doesn't work.
Last week, I wrote a sample breakfast menu that contained protein and healthy fats. You may have choked on your Weetabix as you thought about having chicken breasts for breakfast.
But grain-based foods affect our body's ability to regulate the hormone insulin. White flour and white sugar are known as anti-nutrients as they displace more nutrients than we get from eating them.
Ireland also has one of the highest rates of gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease in the world. Gluten is found in wheat-based products and in many of the nine servings of grains we are recommended to eat daily.
Eating healthy fresh food is often said to cost more, but I invest in my health. I know the foods I eat will replace the blood cells and muscles that get damaged every day.
I also know that because processed foods displace nutrients, I’d have to eat more to make my brain feel satisfied.
Otherwise, it would just continue to crave more food.
So, the question is, do you want to invest in your health and pay for the foods that provide nutrients for energy, a lean physique and longevity — or do you want to save money, be overweight, unhappy and lethargic and pay medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies in the years that follow? You can pay now, or later. Dieters who keep a daily food diary can lose twice as much weight as those who don't. The vast majority of people underestimate the amount of food they consume and the proof is in the waistline.
When you write down your food intake, everything is there to see in black and white. Hidden habits are uncovered and nutritional mishaps come to light.
With your food diary, you may notice that your portion sizes need to be altered, or that you need to increase your quantities of proteins and vegetables.
You might notice that you leave long gaps between meals, driving your body into fatstoring mode.
Once you see what you are eating, you can solve any problem with your diet. You have the key to fat loss in your hands.
You can either take the time to write out your diary, or you can make excuses
Create a shopping list
Write a shopping list before you go to the supermarket. A common mistake people make is to criticise themselves when they deviate from their nutrition plan because there were no nutritious foods in the house. The secret is to start with the end goal in mind. Reverse engineer your goal by planning the perfect days — write your food diary in advance, using the template on page 30. This provides the basis of your shopping list and it provides you with the following benefits:
You are going to save time by going shopping with a list.
You will save money by sticking to your plan and not splashing out on foods that you don’t need. A shopping centre is designed to have the fresh, healthier foods on the outside aisles and the processed foods with a longer shelf life on the inside ones.
Make it your goal to stay on the outside aisles for your shopping.
We will be aiming to eat at least five meals a day, including snacks. Use a food list to complete your food diary plan.
Pick one food from each food group to complete your food diary matrix in advance: a protein, a fibrous carbohydrate and a healthy fat. See what you have and then make a list of what you need.
You can buy certain items in bulk as they have a long shelf life. Others will need to be bought fresh every few days.
You should never shop on an empty stomach and you should only buy the items you have on your shopping list.
If you are smart with your shopping, buy organic and free-range wholesome food to help you achieve your goals.
See Damien Maher’s weekly column in ‘Health and Living’ every Monday.