Deciding what to eat these days is confusing. Even the word “diet” is misleading – on one hand, it means starving yourself and eating a limited menu. On the other, diet simply means the foods you eat.
As a Health Coach and the CEO at Living Healthy List, I field dozens of questions about health and wellness every day. The number one question that clients and readers ask is, “What is the best diet?”.
Whether their motivation is to enjoy a healthier lifestyle or weight loss, my response is the same. Diets don’t work. If they did, the 2.8 billion dollar diet industry would be out of business, and we would not have an epidemic of obesity in The United States. Between 36.8 and 42% percent of Americans are obese, and another 32.5 are overweight. Is there any wonder why we continue to seek out the best diet, pill, or program?
Heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers are rising in younger people. Life expectancy overall may be increasing; however, the quality of those years is in jeopardy. There is a way to reverse these illnesses and gain a healthy, vibrant future.
The answer, miracle cure, magic pill everyone is searching for has always been right in front of us. The solution is so simple that most people don’t believe it, especially when it comes to weight loss.
The magic we are looking for, the best “diet,” is this, Eat-Real-Food!
Real foods consist of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, lean meat, and fatty fish. Foods that are minimally processed and simply prepared are the most nutritious.
Many of the foods we eat today are refined to the point that they are bereft of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. There is little to no nutrition in these foods, yet according to a New York University study, 57% of the typical diet in America is processed foods. Eating real food can quickly turn this SAD statistic around.
There are many benefits to eating real food for a healthy lifestyle and for weight loss. Real food provides the nutrients your body must have optimal functioning. A properly functioning body does not suffer from indigestion or reflux, has an improved immune system, sleeps well, and overall feels good.
Food is the fuel for your body that comes in the form of Macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There are healthy real food versions and unhealthy fake food versions. Think whole grains versus white processed flour.
Additionally, real food contains Micronutrients. Vitamins and minerals are the essential organic compounds that your body needs to function but cannot create independently. Eating Real food provides these micronutrients without the need for supplementation.
A nagging effect of dieting is constantly feeling hungry and unsatisfied. That’s when the cravings begin. The foods you eat can determine how full you feel and for how long. Sugar, chips, cookies, or fast food are high in calories but don’t keep you full. The fiber in fruits and vegetables is more filling, has fewer calories, and keeps hunger under control.
To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat or drink. The question then becomes, how many calories do you need?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 2000 calories a day as a standard for nutritional advice. As a general rule, people need a minimum of 1,200 calories a day to stay “healthy.”
However, since we all differ in size and shape and have varying activity levels, we require different amounts of calories. To find the correct number of calories for you, I recommend using an online calorie calculator.
As a rule of thumb, to lose weight, you must consume 500 fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight. Your personal calorie number gives you a better approach to weight loss.
Eating real food during weight loss keeps your mind away from focusing on the calories and on the quality instead. You will not need to survive on unsatisfying prepackaged items like protein bars or shakes. Neither of which are incredibly satisfying and will only lead to cravings.
Eating real food is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, quality sleep, lower stress levels, and fun are essential. But no doubt, eating real food that maintains proper nutrition will put you on the path to living the healthy, happy lifestyle you’ve always wanted, no diet required!