Sure, you could eat whatever you wanted in high school and stay thin as a rail. But unfortunately, you're not 17 anymore, and even if you work out 'round the clock, you can't transform your body if you constantly give in to cravings, high-fat foods and sweet treats. The truth is, flat abs are made in the kitchen, and no amount of cardio and crunches can sculpt a sleek physique if you maintain an unhealthy diet.
8 Clear Signs that you’re On a Bad Diet
If there’s one common element among people who’ve successfully lost weight and kept it off, it’s that they made a “lifestyle change.” It may sound cliché, but this usually includes combination of controlling portions, limiting unhealthy foods in favor of healthier ones, and identifying environmental and emotional triggers that lead to overeating.
Many diets don’t lead to such lifestyle changes—including crazy fad diets—because they’re simply hard to maintain long-term, or even after you’ve reached your goal weight. If you’re deciding between different weight-loss routes, vet yours against this list of signs that your diet may be setting you up for failure.
Keeping fit: What to eat, when to eat and why
Stick at it
A common mistake is to ditch your healthy eating plan before you see the results. You should also only start a regime when your life feels relatively stable.
“Protein such as meat, fish or eggs should satisfy your appetite and regulate your metabolism. You should find you have fewer cravings for junk food, too”. You could add chicken or eggs to a salad, or drink a shot of whey protein with your meal.
'Flex’ your carbohydrates
Carb flexing means eating more good carbohydrates, such as green and root vegetables, at the right time of the day. You should eat a bit more carbohydrate earlier in the day to give you more time to convert it into energy. “Eating carbohydrates in the morning and consuming just over half your calories by the end of lunch helps the body use fuel more efficiently so that it isn’t stored as fat”.
Second, eat any starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice after you have done some exercise. “This will give your muscles energy when they need it most”. “It will also help recovery and reduce insulin spikes, as well as making it easier for your body to absorb protein.” Eat fewer starchy carbohydrates in the evening, opting instead for high-protein food and good fats, particularly if your goal is weight loss rather than just better performance.
The 45-minute window
“For about 45 minutes after exercise, your muscles are 'open’ like gates”. “They don’t completely close after that, but the rate at which they absorb nutrients diminishes.” Those who are serious about training should consider drinking a protein shake and eating a small amount of carbohydrates after they work out.
Often people think that if you are training for an endurance event, you should eat carbohydrates before, during and after you exercise. This is not necessarily the case. “If you train at low to medium intensity, you should eat balanced meals composed of 30 per cent protein”. “If you train at high intensity, you should eat more nut butters, sweet potatoes, date and walnut cake, fruit smoothies and blueberries.” There is no need for more carbohydrates or sugary drinks in either case.
“If you are being otherwise disciplined about your diet, it’s good to have the occasional cheat meal. I would aim for 80-90 per cent adherence each week.” There are ways to make cheat meals healthier, too. “Try to eat protein in your cheat meal “and if you are going to eat carbohydrate such as pizza or pasta, train immediately before, so that your body can use the extra fuel.
Food to help you sleep
“Eating certain foods at night helps promote sleep”. “Turkey, salmon, cottage cheese, nut butters, bananas and Montmorency cherries all contain tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to melatonin. Almonds are also good as they contain magnesium, which relaxes the muscles.”
On days when you are not doing any exercise, you should replace carbohydrates with good fats such as avocado, seeds and nuts.“When you’re training, carbohydrate is more likely to be used up by your muscles, but when you are resting, it is more likely to be laid down as fat.”
What to eat when
Eating carbohydrates earlier in the day will give your body more time to convert them into energy.
You should have eaten 55 per cent of your carbohydrates by now. Eat more protein by adding chicken or eggs to a salad or drinking a shot of whey protein.
45 minutes after exercise
Drink a protein shake and eat a small amount of carbohydrates. Your muscles will be more “open” during this window to consuming fuel and absorbing nutrients.
Eating turkey, salmon, cottage cheese, nut butters, almonds, bananas and Montmorency cherries will help you sleep. Avoid starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice, if you are trying to lose weight.
Foods That Are Bad for Your Health
It’s easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren’t. You generally want to avoid certain foods if you want to lose weight and prevent chronic illnesses.
Here are 20 foods that are generally unhealthy — although most people can eat them in moderation on special occasions without any permanent damage to their health.