How to Eat when you are not Dieting.
I'm a fan of 'diets'. Ketogenic, Bulletproof, Warrior, Velocity and Anti Estrogenic to name a few. There are some bad ones but on the whole planned diets do work.
Acting all superior about how 'fad' diets don't work and 'just eating healthy' is all you need is either directly refuting that nutrition and biology is a hard science or staying wilfully ignorant about how your body actually works.
Both stances make you an idiot.
Obviously many many popular diets are designed to work in the short term to make them popular and then ultimately fail as they are unsustainable or just plain silly. This doesn't make the idea of a planned structured diet wrong.
Equally avoiding the worst rubbish and just eating the best you can without too much thinking will work really well most of the time. Again this doesn't mean that planning and structure is wrong. Just that the science and biology will operate the same whether you understand it or not and that the 'right' choices are often the obvious ones anyway.
Science is reliable like that.
That said becoming reliant on any external guide to regulate what you eat can get very tiring. Once you have followed a diet for while you would hope that some elements of it became internalised and you did them by choice and habit rather than willpower.
However not everyone wants to invest the time into sticking to the different plans long enough to build their own idea of what works and what doesn't.
The following is a rough guide to eating for people who want something easy to follow.
Macros and Calories
This plan doesn't involve much counting as its while aim is to be very basic. Always drink three litres of water and always eat a gram of protein per pound of lean body weight (weigh this out for a few days and it can seem like a lot) every day. Also try and eat five or more portions of vegitables and fruit. Track those numbers and see how the rest of the diet holds together.
Otherwise eat by hunger and don't worry if one day is under and the next over as long as it balances out over about three days.
You don't need to track your diet too closely but if you notice that your calories and drifting very low or very high it is worth keeping tabs on that. Hunger SHOULD be the guide but if you are eating 500kcal a day (or 5000kcal) and are not hungry for weeks at a time (or are constantly hungry at the higher number) you have a problem.
The goal here is either to ALLOW the body to burn fat by eating lightly or to ENCOURGE it to burn fat by actually eating some fat. If you are not hungry then you must be burning your own fat stores just fine so eating lightly is the best choice. If you are hungry then maybe you aren't utilising fat that well so best to eat some of that.
Feel free to add some light protein here if you like. Don't try to eat to 'fuel' future plans. Eat according to hunger don't stress if that means having very little. Just make sure you have something else prepared for later. All those studies that say breakfast is important seem to assume that your lunch will suck and filling up on healthy breakfast food is better.
Carbohydrate should be minimal or non existent here. I know everyone is convinced that mornings mean bread, toast, cereal, porridge and all that but there is an obesity epidemic going on so maybe concider we might have got it wrong back there somewhere.
- Eggs are always not a bad shout. Add butter/cheese for fattier days or keep them boiled or poached for light protein.
- Fruit is also good on days you are not hungry. Don't load up as the carbs will find you. A big of yogurt is an idea to make it less dull.
- The breakfast meats (sausage, bacon etc) as good for especially hungry days. Lots of protein and fat when eaten with a few eggs.
Lunchtime means a lot of different things to different people. As above eat according to hunger. If this is a very early lunch then lighter and protein based is best. If it's later and you are hungrier then a bit heavier but still protein based works.
Ultimately lunch is just going to be about protein. Either more light protein similar to breakfast but with veggies or salad or a heavier meat or poultry based thing with more veggies.
Try to avoid a large lunch before you have something stressful to do. Either a big lunch in the middle of a busy work day or right before a workout. Carbs are still to be minimised but less strict now. Beans, root veg and such don't really matter and feel free to have some fruit.
- Fish, egg or chicken based salads are good for lighter lunches. Salad doesn't mean leaves and leaves so be creative. Grate things, slice things and dice things and make it something you want to eat.
- Beef, pork, chicken or whatever meat works on heavier days. Lots of beans and vegetables to make it more interesting.
I'm assuming if its dinner time then you have nothing left to do today other than go to bed. If you are still planning to work out or something then have a snack go get that dealt with and come back.
The aim of dinner is to compensate for the calories, nutrients and protein burned during the day and to allow you to relax and sleep. This should be the bigger meal of the day but still go by hunger and don't eat for the sake of it.
This is where the majority of your carbohydrates should come from. Still no need to go crazy and eat a huge bowl of pasta like you has a marathon in the morning. Eat 'enough' carbohydrate to feel satisfied without skimping on protein and veggies.
- Heavier protein sources like beef and various stew type things are great here.
- Lots of vegitables and beans.
- A reasonable quantity of carbohydrate either with your meal or as a little 'dessert'. I often have a bowl of oatmeal before bed with some banana.
- Use nuts and seeds or dairy (either or as they don't mix well) to raise the fat and protein content of your dinner and to make up calories if your lunch and breakfast were a bit too light.
I hate the word snacking as it implys that the foods will be eaten at a constant pace like a cow eating grass. While there is nothing wrong with having more than 3 meals a day they are all still meals. I'd rather you think about meals 1 to 5 (or six or eight) than breakfast, lunch and dinner with SNACKS).
This is where you make your protein add up in grams to whatever your lean mass weighs in pounds and sneak in another few of your five a day. Most of the time this will be pure protein foods like whey shakes, eggs, cottage cheese and smaller versions of lunch or breakfast possibly with an apple as a chaser.
IF you are really genuinely hungry between meals, especially at first if you are used to eating higher carbs and sugar, you can have nuts and fruit to tide you over. Don't start eating tons and tons of nuts as they are seriously high in calories and very easy to eat.
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