Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dieting without Dieting

As alluded to in my first post, in all my weight loss experiences I never attempted a fad diet. And there are plenty of fad diets. The only one that ever had any appeal to me was the Adkins diet, for obvious reasons. I mean it's a diet where you are actively encouraged to eat meat. What's not to love?

The constant through all my weight loss programs is that none of them proscribed any kind of food item. The main thrust has always been to eat within a specific calorie threshold, and I could eat anything so long as I stayed under a certain amount. Then again, sure I could eat anything, but I couldn't eat anything all the time. At my size I can eat 3,000 calories a day (with exercise) and still lose weight, and I could choose to fill those calories with nothing but pizza, but that would probably not be the wisest long-term health plan.

Nonetheless, it does mean that a healthy diet for me can include all the stuff I like to eat, but it also means I can't pig out. Now I'll grant that as a 6 foot, 2 inch man weighing over 200 pounds my diet is going to look a little bit different than a smaller-sized woman, but I think my plan is still applicable to most individuals.

One thing that frustrates me is seeing "healthy" breakfasts that feature muffins and bagels. That muffin has about twice the amount of calories as a four slices of bacon, isn't nearly as yummy, and probably won't fill you up as much. We need to realize that "healthy" can consist of any type of food so long as it is consumed in moderation.

The other week I heard a nutritionist scoff at the "all things in moderation" notion. As long as people aren't equating moderation with "eating the same amount of each food," then there shouldn't be anything wrong with applying this mantra to your diet. Yes, you need to eat a lot more veggies and fruit than steak and potatoes, but there is no reason to only eat veggies and fruit in order to successfully lose weight.

I think people are actively discouraged from getting in shape because they believe that they have to give up all the good stuff. Others are of the belief that dieting means you are necessarily going to feel starved. Not only is this mentality wrong, it's actually the complete opposite of what works. You should never feel starved, because starvation leads you to make bad diet choices. Also, when you starve yourself you slow down your metabolism as your body goes into something of a panic mode.

That's not to say that you should never feel hungry, but that's different than being starved. But if you eat at regular intervals, then there's no need to feel like you are dying of starvation. That's why I do believe in eating small snacks throughout the day in addition to your regular meals. By small snack I of course don't mean a bag of potato chips, but something that will satisfy your cravings until your next meal. This will actually help speed up your metabolism and will help you avoid making those bad food choices that derail your progress.

Long story short, the key to successfully managing your diet is to never feel starved, and to never feel completely stuffed. It's a bit of a tightrope, but learning to eat just enough without stuffing your face will help you shed the pounds without giving up all the foods you really like.

In a followup post I'll list some of the ways I've managed my diet in order to lose weight.

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