Guest post by Jason Madden. Jason is a certified nutritionist and health coach living and practising in Vancouver. Prompted by his own health journey, he exited the corporate world to pursue his passion for educating and inspiring others to find optimal health and well-being. He does this through his work with The Good Stuff, one-on-one nutritional coaching, and his podcast Holistic Gangster Radio.
New year, new you, right? This is typically the time of year when we make promises to ourselves about finally losing that extra 10 pounds. We sign up for gym memberships, start eating lots of salads and restrict our calories... only to throw in the towel by February when we don’t see the results we want. Maybe next year. Sound familiar?
The good news is you are not alone. The really good news is there are a few key changes you can make to achieve your goal weight without revamping your entire lifestyle. Here are my 5 favourites:
1. Eat more fat!
Yes, you read that right. Dietary fat is critical for maintaining good health. A group of healthy fats, called essential fatty acids, must be obtained through our diet as they cannot be produced by our body.
These essential fatty acids are responsible for a lot of different things:
- Improving mood
- Strong brain function
- Maintaining energy levels
- Improving immunity
Contrary to popular belief, consuming fats will not lead to you gaining body fat and can actually improve your body composition, as long as it is not coming from processed foods. Eating healthy fats will also leave you feeling more satiated(full).
Moral of the story, reach for more fats daily. Good sources include avocado, walnuts, hemp seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.
2. Start your morning with protein.
Breakfast has become synonymous with cereal, muffins, and toast. All of which are high-carb options causing large spikes in our blood sugar and leading to mid-morning energy crashes and cravings.
You can sustain your energy throughout the day much better by including protein in your morning routine, leaving you feeling full for longer and reducing cravings. Add a healthy fat for even greater results. A protein smoothie like the Diesel Monster from The Good Stuff is a great option.
Stop counting calories.
The most common misconception when it comes to losing weight is that we need to restrict our calories.
Sure, there is a time and place for reducing calories. But not all calories are created equal, and consistent calorie restriction will actually make it difficult to lose body fat. Instead, the focus needs to be on eating real whole foods and having a good mix of all the macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates).
Nature is smart, and the chances of you overeating with avocados and yams are slim. It’s the empty calories from man-made processed foods that cause us to overeat and leave us feeling hungry. So grab some real food and eat up!
4. Drink lots of water.
You need to drink plenty of water throughout the day - you've heard it before, and there is good reason for it. It's not just to feel hydrated.
We are made up of over 75% water and water is important for many functions in our body including digestion and nutrient absorption. Not drinking enough water can cause fatigue and hunger, leading us to eat more when really all we need is some water. Aim for 2-3 litres of water daily, and next time you are feeling like you need a snack, chug back a glass of water and wait a couple minutes to see if you are truly hungry or were just dehydrated.
Pro tip: Add lemon to your water for an extra energy boost. It will also aid in detoxification and keep your skin looking fresh.
5. Manage your stress.
The stress hormone cortisol is vital for life. It keeps us awake and motivated, but when it gets too high over long periods of time it leads to, among other things, weight gain.
Stress is a part of our lives and getting rid of it is not going to happen anytime soon. We can, however, do our best to manage it and keep cortisol levels in check. This can look like a meditation or mindfulness practice, getting out in nature, or deep breathing exercises when you feel yourself getting really stressed. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep and exercising regularly are also key to maintaining healthy cortisol levels.
For more on this and other health topics, check out Jason's podcast Holistic Gangster Radio.