Fiona Harris Fitness

You Are What You Eat

Posted Feb 23rd, 2014 in Reflections, Fitness

"You Are What You Eat"

People always ask me how they can lose weight and achieve their goals.  All too often they tell me they are exercising consistently and vigorously, but have either hit a plateau in their weight loss or can’t seem to lose that last 10 lbs.  I always get such a shocked response when I explain to them that at least 70% of the weight loss they will see are the result of diet.  That being said, you undoubtedly need to do a combination of healthy eating and regular physical activity in order to achieve the desired results.

I’ll admit that I can speak to this experience personally.  Just this week, I found an old food diary from when I was in university.  This was when I first found my love for weight training.  I vividly remember training hard and trying to make all the “right” choices.  But, no matter how hard I trained I just couldn’t achieve the results I desired.  

Here is a sample of what my daily food intake entailed:


Day 1:

Breakfast: Instant oatmeal

Snack: Fat free vanilla yogurt cup with granola

Lunch: Deli turkey sandwich with vegetable soup

Snack: Crackers and carrots and celery

Dinner: Chicken breast with broccoli and rice in mushroom soup sauce

Snack: Apple with peanut butter

Day 2:

Breakfast:  Life cereal with milk

Snack: Apple and crackers

Lunch: Whole wheat bagel with light cream cheese

Snack: Turkey deli slices and carrots and celery

Dinner: Chicken wrap and garden salad

Snack: Plain popcorn

Not only was I probably hungry all the time, but I certainly wasn’t seeing the results I was striving for with all the cardio sessions and weight training I was doing.  Looking back it is clear to see I was definitely not taking in enough protein and my meals were certainly not balanced in terms of protein/carbohydrates/fats.  Over the years, I’ve learned quite a lot about nutrition and using food to fuel my body and my workouts.  I eat far more now than I ever did before, I do less cardio and I’m much leaner and stronger.

There were a few key mistakes I was making with the food I was taking in.  First and foremost, I wasn’t eating nearly enough calories.  An active female should be taking in anywhere from 1800 to 2400 calories per day, an active male 2400 to 3000 calories per day.  For those looking to lose weight, a 500 calorie deficit from your total daily caloric needs will help in achieving weight loss.  Not only is the total number of calories you take in important, but just as important is the quality of the calories.  Your daily caloric intake should come from lean proteins, slow digesting carbohydrates, healthy fats, whole grains, vegetables and fruit.  In my defense, I was a student and not much on cooking at the time so I tended to eat more processed, prepared and convenient foods.  As well, there was no balance in my meals.  You should really make an effort to incorporate a source of protein, carbohydrate and fat in most meals you consume.  The recommended amount of protein intake per day is 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight.  So for a 150 lb woman, that would equate to 120 g protein, for a 190 lb man 170 g protein.  A serving of grilled chicken for instance has 28g of protein, a scoop of protein powder the same.  So 4 to 5 meals with a single serving of protein will help you reach your targets.  As for vegetables, no one ever become fat from eating too many! 

Preparation is a key to success!! Get creative and try to be more adventurous with your foods.  Try a new vegetable each week you visit the grocery store.  Vegetables are a great way to help fill you up without adding a lot of calories, provide vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fiber.  Try them grilled, steamed, raw, in salads, etc, etc.  You can’t go wrong!  Incorporating healthy fats in to your diet is also crucial.  Healthy fats are essential for providing satiety, are a great source of energy, help in the absorption of vitamins, maintain health of your hair and skin, etc.  But, they are far more calorie dense than proteins and carbohydrates, so portion control is essential.  A small handful of almonds (approximately 12), tablespoon of olive oil or nut butter or a 1/4 avocado are all healthy fat options.  Of course, taking in enough water throughout the day will help keep you hydrated, energized, aid in digestion and hold off those hunger pains.  I always shoot to drink no less than 4 litres per day.

Eating healthy is a journey and often a process of trial and error to learn how your body metabolizes different types of food and what ratio of protein/carbohydrates/fat is ideal for your metabolism and body type.  The suggestions above are simply some general guidelines to help point you in the right direction.  But, I would have to say my number one tip to achieving the weight loss you are striving for is CONSISTENCY in making your healthy food choices.  This will be essential in helping you reach your desired goals. 

I wish you the best of luck in your journey and remember that if you get off track, simply commit to making better choices in the next meal and in the days to come.  It’s a process and one that won’t come without challenges.  If you stay the course and are persistent, your efforts will pay off.  If you find this is a lot of information and are overwhelmed in how to get started, I’m here to help.  All you have to do is ask!!!  I’m looking forward to hearing how your weight loss journeys are progressing.

Remember that hard work always pays off in the end!!!

Fiona

 

1 comment

  • Nicole on Feb 24th, 2014
    Great write up Fiona!! So correct on the starving for calories and the way over doing it on cardio and not getting results. Slow and steady and healthy!!! Agreed:)

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