7 Simple Diet Rules

Controlling your weight is all about energy balance. If you take in more calories than you need, you will gain weight, and if you have a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. It really is that simple. Here are a few rules that will help you stay on top of managing your energy balance.

1. Drink Water

One of the easiest ways to help you achieve a caloric deficit is reducing the amount of calories you take in while drinking. Your standard soft drink can have somewhere around 0,4 calories per milliliter, and no nutritional value other than sugar and caffeine. A standard can contains around 330 ml of soda, so around 132 calories. 132 calories does not sound like a lot, but lets say you drink two cans of soda a day. Thats 264 calories. Still does not sound like that much considering that in order to lose a pound of fat you need a deficit of 3500 calories. If you do the math, by drinking water instead of soda, and not changing your diet or activity level in any way, you will lose a pound every two weeks. That makes 26 pounds in a year, just from drinking water!

2. Read the Food Labels

If you don’t know what you’re eating, you’ll have a very hard time figuring out if you are eating properly. Food labels give a lot of useful information like macro nutrients, serving size, ingredients, and calories. Most people have a general idea of which foods are healthy and which ones are not, but it is still a good idea to get more information about the food you are eating. You might think something is healthy, like some Müsli mix, and then when you look at the label, you will see that it is 50% oatmeal, which is awesome, but then the rest of it is chocolate and corn syrup, not so awesome. Or, you might be eating something you know for a fact is healthy, like almonds, and assume, well almonds are healthy so I can just eat my fill of this stuff. One look at the label and you will see that if you are stuffing your face with almonds, you are going to get fat, unless you are exercising like a madman. The label will tell you that one cup (143 grams) of almonds has 823 calories. If I were to sit down in front of a bowl of almonds while watching a movie, I could probably put away 3 cups, or 2469 calories. Being a 210 pound 28 year old man, this is almost the same as my BMR (Base Metabolic Rate). So, If I do not exercise, three cups of almonds should have enough energy to keep me going for one day. So when you’re shopping, unless you already know exactly what’s in the food you buy, check out the label.

3. Cook your own Food

This one kind of goes along with the previous rule. If you buy pre-made food, let someone else cook for you, or go out to a restaurant, you have no control of what goes in your meal. If you are not used to cooking, start doing it, it’s not witchcraft. Cooking also doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. I like to keep my meals simple, with not too many ingredients. You can, for example, just fill a casserole dish with some mixed, unseasoned, frozen veggies, throw some fish or chicken breast on it, hit it with some spices, throw that bad boy in the oven and chill or exercise while it is cooking. If you want some more calories in the meal, put some brown rice and water in the rice cooker, push the button, and let the magic happen. So that’s no more than two minutes, maybe four minutes if you wash the rice, of work and, if you looked at your labels, you know exactly what nutrients and how many calories you consumed.

4. Measure your Food

I bought a kitchen scale a few months ago and it was the best 15 bucks I’ve spent in a while. I know, measuring your food seems tedious, which I guess it can be, but it makes calculating how many calories you consumed much easier. After a while, you will get the hang of it and will get better at eyeballing the correct amounts. A scale, or measuring cups are helpful when you are starting out though.

5. Eat enough

This is probably the most important rule. Some people have the tendency to take dieting to a level, that is not healthy anymore. Keep in mind that your body needs energy, for other things then just exercise. If you take in too few calories over a prolonged period of time, you will lose muscle instead of fat, even if you are working out. Also, you are at risk of damaging your organs. Under no circumstances would I recommend someone to go on one of those fasting diets. Fasting for a day or two is ok, and will actually increase your HGH levels (at least that’s what I’ve heard) but doing it for longer than that is not a good Idea.

Remember that you are in it for the long run. You want to change your eating habits in a way that you can maintain for a long period of time. I recommend shooting for a small deficit, like 500 calories less than your BMR. If you are exercising, you might burn 500 calories, depending on the exercise duration and type. So, with a 500 calorie deficit plus the 500 calories burned from exercising, you are looking at a total deficit of 1000 calories, which theoretically translates into two pounds of fat lost per week.

6. Eat often, not a lot

Try to split up your calories evenly throughout the day with four to six meals, instead of having a small breakfast and then a massive lunch and dinner. Your body is constantly burning calories, at a relatively steady rate, so you should try to supply it with a steady stream of energy. If you work out, then your body will need more energy during the workout then it does throughout the rest of the day, so have a little high carb and protein snack 20 minutes before you work out to get that extra energy you need.

7. Reward yourself

Try to reward yourself once a week. Changing your eating habits is not easy, especially when you are starting out. To make it a bit easier, it is good take some time off now and then. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. Personally, I like to end my week with a nice cold beer. I feel that if I’ve been good all week, those extra 250 calories aren’t going to put a big dent in the 3500 calories, if you go with the 500 calorie deficit, that I put in the bank that week.

posted on2014-04-06 21:14:00