What not to order in a restaurant or cafe you have never been to?

What not to order in a restaurant or cafe you have never been to?

Posted: 11:17AM on Jul 2, 2019 | By Pynora


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How to Eat Healthy, or… the Path towards Losing Weight without Counting Calories

Posted: 9:02PM on Aug 21, 2019 | By Pynora

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If you’ve ever needed to lose weight for the good of your health, you already know that there are many different ways to achieve your goal. The global weight loss market is worth billions, so you only have to do a cursory search online to see that there are countless companies out there, all telling you why their way is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. In essence, it should be as simple as "burning more calories than consuming", but in reality it is not that simple at all, is it?

We take a look at two of the simplest techniques, neither of which requires signing up to an all-singing, all-dancing online membership or depriving yourself of an entire category of food. The methods focus on weight-loss friendly foods and either counting calories or the so-called 50/25/25 principle. The latter is a much more sustainable technique and by reading on, you’ll find out why losing weight without counting calories is perhaps the best way forward.

Counting calories

Perhaps the most established and most commonly used method of weight control is counting calories, which makes use of the basic principle that if you consume fewer calories than you expend - you’ll lose weight. This method makes the assumption that every man needs 2,000-2,500 to maintain a healthy weight, with women able to consume up to 2,000 calories to achieve the same; the quicker you want to lose weight, the more you restrict your daily intake by.

Those employing this method sensibly will typically try and make a reduction from the recommended daily calorie total. They will need to reduce their intake by around 500 calories per day, regardless of age or gender to achieve a weight loss of around 1 pound per week.

At least that's the theory…

In reality, things usually tend to become very complicated, very quickly. If you think about it – 2,000 calories is about 300g of butter. Does it mean that you will be perfectly fine by just eating 300g of butter every day? That doesn't sound like a very good idea, does it? What if instead of butter, you eat a pound of sugar every day? Would that be sufficient? After all 2,000 calories are 2,000 calories, no? Not at all!

The Pros of Counting Calories

The main reason why calorie counting is the most popular method for many is that when followed meticulously  it absolutely works. Scientifically speaking, it’s hard to argue with the math and whilst combining the method with healthy, weight loss friendly foods, such as fruit, vegetables and natural proteins, it can be extremely effective at shifting the weight.

Also, most products in the world now come with some kind of food information table on the packet, so sticking to a regime like this can be relatively simple in ideal conditions.

The Cons of Counting Calories

Unfortunately, life is rarely lived in ideal conditions and as such, sticking to a calorie-restrictive diet can prove problematic. What tends to happen is that with people leading such busy lives these days, the healthy, weight loss friendly foods we just mentioned are eschewed in favor of processed convenience foods.

There are a number of other reasons why the calorie counting method can run into trouble and they include:

  • The fact that food labels aren’t always accurate
  • It doesn’t take account of the fact that different foods affect our bodies in different ways
  • Reducing calories doesn’t guarantee a healthy diet, as highly processed foods are acceptable, so long as the calorie count is ok
  • It encourages a starve-binge cycle (i.e. "I cheat today and just eat less tomorrow" mentality)
  • It takes a lot of dedication and meticulous precision to count calories unless you eat the same thing day-in/day-out week after week
  • It takes a lot of trial-and-error attempts before you establish your base calorie-burn rate and learn to understand how your body reacts to different foods
  • It is not an instant-gratification approach, and frequently requires you to track your weight over a long period of time (at least a few months) before you can analyze the trends and link it to the calories you consumed over that period. And then re-adjust your approach and repeat
  • Counting calories also requires a deep knowledge of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats)  and, to a lesser extent, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in order to make your meals balanced and healthy

Another important factor is that a rigid dietary regime like the one calorie counting involves doesn’t account for the differences in each person’s physical constitution and the lives they lead. Calorie counting can be pretty hard to follow, which is what sometimes leads to people adopting unhealthy eating patterns and in the long term, it can be a quite cumbersome way of dieting, as you’re perpetually having to check food tables and trust their accuracy.

This way of dieting makes eating out pretty difficult and having to count this way every day is often not sustainable. That’s not to say it doesn’t work for some people, because it does. It’s just that it doesn’t suit everyone because of its restrictive nature and plethora of disadvantages.

Luckily, there is another, healthier way of achieving permanent weight loss without calorie counting.

The 50/25/25 Alternative

What makes the 50/25/25 technique so good is its simplicity and effectiveness. However, the 50/25/25 method teaches you not only how to lose weight without counting calories, but also eating habits that stay with you for a lifetime, making it far more sustainable than other, more austere alternatives.

If you haven’t already guessed it, the 50/25/25 method relates to the proportions that each individual food group takes up on your dinner plate. When combined with sensible portion control (e.g. don't pick a plater that is 3ft in diameter for your meals), the ratio of the food you consume at mealtimes should along the lines of:

  • 50% Vegetables and Fruit
  • 25% Protein
  • 25% Wholegrain Foods

Which can be comprised of:

  • Fruits & Vegetables: apples, strawberries, brocoli, carrots, cabbage etc.
  • Protein and Fats: Eggs, nuts, lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes etc.
  • Wholegrains: Cereal (rice, barley, oats), seeds (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth), and wholegrain products (breads, pasta)

The great thing about eating this kind of food is that it typically means that at every mealtime, you have an interesting, colorful plate full of healthy food and you avoid the consumption of processed, convenience foods and foods high in refined sugar and dangerous additives, which can cause so much damage to the human body when eaten on a regular basis. Excessive alcohol consumption is also a particular no-no for weight loss due to the high amounts of calories it contains, how it instigates hunger and lowers willpower, and the biological processes involved in breaking down alcohol.

Another awesome thing about this method is the fact that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, it’s a principle you can apply – 50% fruits or veggies, 25% meat, and 25% wholegrains. You don’t need any tables or points calculators to stick to it, meaning that you’re removing the issues that sometimes rear their heads and make people deviate from their diet, back into old habits.

This 50/25/25 method is not just weight loss without calorie counting - it’s a change of lifestyle that trains you to eat healthily and enjoy eating healthily. And if you don't believe us, check out the Canada's food guide (https://bit.ly/2FHF4v1). Those Canadians know how to eat healthy!

Quick, Easy, Delicious Recipes

We’d highly recommend trying a few recipes using weight loss-friendly foods, as you might be surprised at just how delicious the meals you can make are. You could be tucking into egg and veggie scramble for breakfast, a lunch box tuna salad wrap during the day and crunchy turkey fingers with oven-baked fries for dinner. Delicious!

Want something even simpler? A bag of rainbow salad with olive oil, salt and Tabasco (if you like it spicy), one avocado, 75g of quinoa and 1 or 1.5 grilled chicken breasts. Done!

Going camping? Even that is not a problem – make the 50% of your plate dedicated to tomatoes, cucumbers and spinach; 25% goes to that juicy grilled lean turkey patty or two; 25% is left for one or two pieces of multigrain toast from the fire, and you are good to go.

However, be mindful that traditional toppings, such as over-the-counter salad dressings, catchups, mustards and mayonnaise are not on the list for a reason. They are packed with fats, sugars, and food additives that will wreak havoc even on the healthiest of dieters! Pick a quality balsamic vinegar to replace the salad dressing, add some salt to a Greek yogurt if you're craving for mayonnaise, or have a banana if you can't stop thinking about that ice cream; these alternatives definitely do not taste the same, but they are considerably healthier and satisfy the underlying cravings.

Eating in this way really helps a person to feel unrestricted and un-deprived and that is a recipe for dieting success.

Modern ‘Fad’ Diets

There are so many ‘fad’ or ‘wonder’ diets in existence, such as the keto plan, the low fat or low carb plan, and people do achieve a measure of temporary success using them. However, they are very much at the severe end of the scale and as such, not very sustainable. That’s mainly because they’re aimed at fast, short-term weight loss and they appeal to the impatient part of all of us that doesn’t like to wait for things.

As they say ‘Good things come to those who wait’ and that’s very much the case here. Of course, for some, brief, intensive diets suit either their lifestyle or their specific needs, but in terms of long-term health and wellness, slower is always better, as it puts the body under less stress and teaches eating lessons that stay with you and silently guide your future eating.

Important Note: Whichever method you choose is your own prerogative, but If you do attempt a so-called ‘crash diet’, we’d always recommend speaking to your health professional or GP before you start. Some of the 'wonder' diets can be quite detrimental to your health if done incorrectly!

In Summary

The fact is that there are a million and one ways to approach weight loss, but if you want to keep the weight off for good, you have to incorporate a range of healthy, weight-loss friendly foods, so that your body gets everything it needs to be full of vitality and energy. When you’re hungry all the time, as happens so often with calorie counting, you invariably end up either feeling so fed up that your willpower breaks or you spend much of your time feeling tired and lethargic.

Calorie counting CAN work as a weight loss plan if:

  • a) it’s done gradually so as to not leave you feeling hungry all the time
  • b) you avoid processed foods and refined sugars
  • c) you have a good grasp of the science behind macronutrients and micronutrients
  • d) you understand your body caloric baseline and
  • e) you have the patience and dedication to count calories and monitor your weight long-term and adjust your calorie intake when and as needed

It’s just that it’s quite a lot more complicated than the 50/25/25 principle when eating in this way and in the long term, simplicity is the key to success.

However you approach your weight loss, we wish you the very best of luck. We hope that the article has shed light on why good, healthy food eaten sensibly will always win out.

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