Alright, I should preface this by saying I was never exactly “fat.” That being said, I did get out of shape and add a few inches to my once perpetually thin waistline. In any case, since beginning the process of finding my old self, the self that I loved so much, I’ve been try to get back to the good old washboard abs I once had in my days of yore. And I know these days I’m far from being alone in the endeavor.
That said, there are still a surprising amount of people out there who are unaware of some very important dietary steps when it comes to weight loss, and the unfortunate reality is, you can do thousands of crunches and still not get the results you want if you are neglecting these practices in particular.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to share some of the tips that are not only backed by personal experience, but also by science. Facts baby! Yeah!
Let’s just…get started.
1. Eat more fiber. When it comes to weight loss, fiber is like a one-two punch aimed right at those extra inches around your tummy. There are two kinds of fiber- insoluble and soluble– and both are important (as well as general terms for more specific types). Generally speaking, insoluble fiber stays intact and does not dissolve. Instead, it acts as a sort of broom in your intestines, sweeping away all sorts of junk and preventing constipation. Soluble, on the other hand, creates a gel-like substance, slowing digestion and allowing you to feel fuller for longer. For a breakdown of the different kinds of fiber and their sources, here’s a chart you can use as a guide:
|Types of Fiber||Soluble or Insoluble||Sources||Health Benefits|
|Cellulose,some hemicellulose||Insoluble||Naturally found in nuts, whole wheat, whole grains, bran, seeds, edible brown rice, skins of produce.||“Nature’s laxative”: Reduces constipation,lowers risk of diverticulitis, can help with weight loss.|
|Inulin oligofructose||Soluble||Extracted from onions and byproducts of sugar production from beets or chicory root. Added to processed foods to increase fiber.||May increase beneficial bacteria in the gut and enhance immune function.|
|Lignin||Insoluble||Found naturally in flax, rye, some vegetables.||Benefits heart health and possibly immune function. Use caution if celiac or gluten intolerant.|
|Mucilage, beta-glucans||Soluble||Naturally found in oats, oat bran, beans, peas, barley, flaxseed, berries, soybeans, bananas, oranges, apples, carrots.||Helps lower bad LDL cholesterol,
reduces risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Use caution if celiac or gluten intolerant.
|Pectin and gums||Soluble (some pectins can be insoluble)||Naturally found in fruits, berries, and seeds. Also extracted from citrus peel and other plants boost fiber in processed foods.||Slows the passage of food through the intestinal GI tract, helps lower blood cholesterol.|
|Polydextrose polyols||Soluble||Added to processed foods as a bulking agent and sugar substitute. Made from dextrose, sorbitol, and citric acid.||Adds bulk to stools, helps prevent constipation. May cause bloating or gas.|
|Psyllium||Soluble||Extracted from rushed seeds or husks of plantago ovata plant. Used in supplements, fiber drinks, and added to foods.||Helps lower cholesterol and prevent constipation.|
|Resistant starch||Soluble||Starch in plant cell walls naturally found in unripened bananas, oatmeal, and legumes. Also extracted and added to processed foods to increase fiber.||Helps weight management by increasing fullness.|
|Wheat dextrin||Soluble||Extracted from wheat starch, and widely used to add fiber in processed foods.||Helps lower cholesterol (LDL and total cholesterol), reduces risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Avoid if celiac or gluten intolerant.|
2. Getting fishy with omega fatty acids. Okay, not entirely sure about that subtitle, but let’s move past it. The idea that losing fat by eating fat might sound a little absurd, but omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and flax seed oil especially) have been linked to reducing body fat. That isn’t to say other omega fatty acids aren’t without their benefits, but so far omega-3 fatty acids seem to have the most noticeable impact.
3. Grab your nuts. I know, I need to stop. It’s hard. I’m in a strange mood. In any case, one of the largest and most overlooked weapons in your arsenal against fat are nuts. All kinds of nuts. Seriously, don’t be picky. Go out, grab one of those mixed nuts tins and stuff your face with them. Provided they’re not salty nuts.
Anyway, we’ve already touched upon the benefits of fiber and omega fatty acids. Nuts have both of those in spades. Now, some might argue that there are “good” nuts and there are “bad” nuts, but that is a bit of a misnomer. Some nuts are better than others, especially if you’re into calorie-counting, but all nuts have their benefits so long as they are eaten in moderation. For a good breakdown of which nuts are best for which purpose, check out this article from howstuffworks.com.
You should also know that nuts are high in protein, which happens to be another important tool for weight loss.
4. Get a protein-packed punch. You know what? I’m tired. Yes, these subtitles are lame. But that’s not the point of this blog, now is it? Stop judging me.
Simply put, proteins, much like fiber, can leave you feeling full for longer periods of time. That said, some protein sources’ negatives might outweigh the positives. If you’re a big red meat eater, you’re doing yourself no favors. A nice steak can be fantastic every once and a while, but a diet heavy in red meat has been linked to issues ranging from clogged arteries to an increased risk in diabetes. If that’s not enough to steer you away from that sirloin, you might also want to consider just how slack USDA standards are when it comes to the red meat that you eat. Really though, our whole method of monitoring food in this country can be pretty horrifying. Though, that is an issue for another day.
Getting back to the point, protein also requires more energy during the digestion process. In other words, you burn more calories. Really though, that is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the health benefits of making sure you have enough protein in your diet. As is the case with both nuts and fiber, variety is key if you want to experience all the benefits protein can offer.
I could go on, but this is probably enough for now. As I suggested in my relieving stress blog, implementing all these changes at once to your diet can be pretty hard. Truthfully, if you manage to even implement one of these tips though, you’re bound to experience a difference. So try focusing on making one change for one week to your diet, let it become the norm, and then add onto it the next week. It’s also important that you do everything in moderation. Eating too much fiber can cause uncomfortable bloating, and the same can be said for omega-3 fatty acids. Also keep in mind that, while nuts have a plethora of benefits, they are also pretty dense in calories. And a diet that neglects carbs and essential fats for nothing but proteins is also extremely unhealthy.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll probably make a part two sometime soon. In the meantime, happy dieting!