I’ve put together a multi-part series on my experiences with “dieting” (I hate that word) and other tips, tricks and methods that I’ve learned over the years that have made “dieting” something that’s simple and effective at least for me anyway. Hope you enjoy.
In Part 1 we discussed a few strategies to explain some basics in regards to managing how you eat. It’s all about experimenting with foods, listening to how your body responds, preferably against a training stimulus (i.e. crossfit), and adjusting your macro’s accordingly. One thing I didn’t mention was calories; now calories are important in the weight loss or gaining equation if you want it to be really simple. However calories are not created equal and come from one of the three macros; a gram of protein is valued at 4 calories, a carbohydrate is 4 calories and a gram of fat is 9 calories. Where many tend to forget is when cutting certain macros (i.e. fat or carbs) we don’t compensate for the loss in calories. If a person chooses a low carb diet many forget to supplement the loss of carbs with an increase in fat intake for example. I’ve listed below a few things that can be done to simplify eating.
Prepare Ahead of Time
You’ve seen this before, always prep meals on Sunday for example and be ready for the week. I like this strategy and it works well for me – SOMETIMES. It doesn’t always work out that way, especially for those of us that work for a living, which I will make a guess that would include most anyone reading this. Your first option is to always prepare meals on the weekend to prep for the week, freeze some of them if you can. For example I will sometimes cook a deep dish egg casserole, it gives me about 4 meals and two of which I will freeze.
For lunches I will prepare a bunch of protein on the grill or double the dinner we prepare on Sunday giving me a few lunches. Life doesn’t always allow for time to prep meals so I’m left to improvise a lot, and for me improvisation is the only way that I’m able to keep my eating on track during a very hectic work week. By this I mean being prepared all the time for those days that eating well is just thrown entirely out the window, which brings me to the next section.
Always Have Backup Plan
We are always told to cook fresh foods for our healthy eating habits but let’s be real here; we are working people and have regular lives to attend to. Always being prepared just doesn’t happen, so being the Boy Scout that I am even if I haven’t precooked a meal I’m still always prepared for what life has to throw at me. Just about any healthy food is available pre-cooked and frozen at the store. So keeping a kitchen and cabinet full of easy to prepare foods is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. The downside are pre-cooked foods tend to be more expensive, however in an effort to stay on track I’m willing to drop a few extra bucks to ensure I stay on the wagon.
For example I will always keep the following non-perishable items in the freezer and pantry as a backup plan when I don’t have time to cook or just plain forget:
A couple bags of frozen pre-cooked chicken
Frozen sweet potato fries
A ton of frozen veggies (I tend to use these all the time rather than fresh…)
Frozen pre-cooked turkey breakfast sausage
To mix it up a bit more I’ll keep frozen hamburger patties on hand
1 minute Rice cups
Dry black bean pasta
So from that list above I can run out of all of my perishable foods and still have plenty of good tasting meal options on hand and ready. Tailor this to your taste and whether you’re allowed to eat grains, beans etc…
How to Properly Cheat!
Man I love cheating; cheating on diets that is. There is nothing better than planning for a cheat meal, but the reality of it is why be so strict on yourself that the only thing you actually enjoy about healthy eating is waiting till a Friday night pig-out meal? In Part 1 of the series I mentioned that we aren’t really dieting but rather experimenting with food and cheat meals kind of throw that off. I like to prescribe to flexible eating, let’s face it I’m not a pro body builder or gearing up for the Crossfit Games so being extremely strict doesn’t match my lifestyle. I consume food within reason and to match the type of performance I’m looking for in the gym and my own body composition goals. If you can stay to that one mantra, eat to match your output level, then eating gets extremely simple. It doesn’t mean having a burger and fries everyday matches your output in the gym…I prescribed to that while powerlifting and I got strong but packed on A LOT of body fat in the process. Your body really doesn’t need as much as you would think to put out some outstanding physical effort.
I could probably go on for a while on this subject, but to recap Part 2 of the series…
Preparing protein in bulk should be a weekly priority
Always have a backup plan for healthy foods
Don’t cheat, instead be flexible but always keep an eye on the prize