With all the conflicting advice out there and foods that were once considered unhealthy now being touted as healthy and formerly so called health foods are now public enemies, it’s easy to get confused when trying to make the right food choices.
It doesn’t need to be so complicated, while there are various strategies that can be used to speed up results and certain conditions that will call for a very specific dietary approach, the majority of people will benefit greatly by implementing some very straight forward principles. Now this is by no means a one size fits all, as everybody will have their own preferences, needs, goals, likes and dislikes, what it will do is give you some guidelines, a foundation from which you can build your diet around. My use of the term diet simply refers to what you eat on a daily basis, not as in ‘a diet’ signifying a start and an end. While you may have different phases of your diet, depending on your goals, I am proposing a long term healthy eating strategy that not only delivers short term goals, but lasting health, fitness and wellbeing.
• The 80% rule. Sticking to a rigid healthy eating plan 100% of the time is unsustainable, this is where many people fail, we need some flexibility, we need room to ‘fall off the wagon’ now and then, without feeling like we have failed! Staying on course for 80% of the time will yield positive results and give you that much needed room for a little cheat meal, the odd bottle of wine or couple of beers. An easy way to simplify the 80% rule, is to allow for 1 cheat day per week.
• Water should be your main beverage, around 3-4 litres a day, especially in hot weather. I’m not going to bore you with all the benefits of water and staying hydrated, if you’re reading this you will no doubt know how important water is. Following water, for that 80% of the time, go for beverages like green tea and other herbal teas. Everything else, alcohol, coffee, fruit juice, milk and sugary drinks are strictly cheat fluid, no more than 20% of the time.
• The backbone of your diet should be; meat, fish, eggs, vegetables (including salad), nuts, seeds, oils, fresh fruit, berries, herbs and spices.
• Cook with coconut oil, butter or rapeseed oil, use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings.
• Avoid sugar, trans fats, grains, high fructose corn syrup and basically anything else added to food.
• All your food should be of single ingredients, make your own sauces, dips and condiments.
• Avoid anything processed and go organic as much as possible, meat should be grass fed, fish wild, eggs organic and fruit, berries, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices all organic
• Eat 3 meals a day, don’t skip breakfast!
• Eat protein and fats with every meal.
• For fat loss go easy on the fruit, no more than 1 piece a day. Too much fructose will interfere with fat loss.
• There is no need to count calories, this is the kind of food your body has evolved to eat, it will start to tell you when you’ve had enough.
• For muscle gain, add in some extra carbs from sweat potato, brown rice, long grain rice or potatoes and use supplements such as protein powder, creatine and BCAA’s.
• For overall health take omega 3 fish oil and a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral complex.
Implement these principles 6 days of the week, allow yourself one cheat day to eat and drink what you like. Do this on a consistent basis for several months and you will achieve massive results, improve your health and feel fantastic.