Ladies, deciding on the best diet can be a tricky business. You’ve got everything from Atkins to the Paleo Diet out there, not to mention magic pills and potions that (almost) always fail to deliver what they promise.
Let’s face it, diet’s suck. They do! Leave it to the dreaded D-word to conjure up images of bland, boring foods (cabbage soup, anyone?) and beliefs that losing weight means depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy and you’re setting yourself up to fail. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking often leads to feelings of guilt, resentment, increased stress and anxiety – the typical path of yo-yo dieting.
The best diet for women isn’t just some quick-fix, it’s a lifestyle that offers a practical, long-term solution to help you look better in your birthday suit, make you feel super-sexy in the sack, boost your energy levels, stress-proof your day and keep the kilo’s off for good. All of this starts at the breakfast table…
GET AN ‘EGG-CELENT’ START!
Hands off the snooze button! After fasting all night, it’s time to wake up your body and fire-up your fat burning metabolism with a healthy, belly-busting breakfast. But instead of reaching for a nutritionally bankrupt bagel, croissant, waffle or bowl of frosted-flakes, go for eggs – whatever your style.
They’re loaded with high-quality proteins which help to keep you on-the-ball and feeling fuller for longer. Add in a slice or two of whole-grain toast for a dose of slow-digesting carbohydrates and you’ll fuel your morning activity and fend of any afternoon sleepiness.
Yogurts are also a great alternative. You get a sustained hit of low GI energy to keep you going well into the morning and slip in some essential bone-building calcium too. Better yet, opt for the low-fat or natural versions and sweeten them yourself with some fresh fruit and honey.
THE PERFECT BREAKFAST BALANCE: For your morning meal, always aim to eat a protein-rich food, like eggs, with a whole grain Low-GI carbohydrate like grained bread or breakfast cereal (oatmeal/muesli).
An ideal breakfast should keep you feeling full for about 2-3hrs. So if you’re getting hungry after an hour, boost your protein intake. On the flip-side, if you’re not getting hungry until lunch-time, that’s the signal to tone it down.
ARE JUICES OK? If you keep-in-mind that it takes 3-4 oranges to make that glass of orange juice, that’s a lot of energy that most of us simply don’t need. Instead, stick to vegetable juices, like tomato. They’re lower in energy and packed with essential nutrients. Another option is to whip up a smoothie. Load up your blender with low-fat milk/yoghurt & fruit/berries (use ice as the base) and you’ve got a filling, waistline-friendly snack to go in under 2 minutes!
EAT MORE NAKED FOOD!
Put down the frying pan and ditch the microwave. That’s the message coming from nutritional experts. Keeping your food fresh, uncooked and undressed can help you slim-down, boost your mood, keep your meal’s nutritional content in-tact and fight disease. Here’s how to keep it simple, yet tasty:
GREEN YOUR PLATE: No-one is suggesting you become vegetarian, but meat doesn’t always need to take center stage either. Instead, for lunch, snacks and dinner look to make plants and vegetables the star of your plate. 80% of women are not getting their recommended 5 serves of vegetables a day. So boost it! Salads, raw vegetables dipped in olive oil, smoothie’s – diversity is the key to boosting your intake and you really can’t go overboard.
ADD A SPLASH OF COLOR: Antioxidant’s seek out & destroy free-radicals (molecules in the body that cause cellular damage). As a rule, the more colors on your plate, the more powerful the antioxidant punch. Nosh on green leafy vegetables (like spinach, lettuce & broccoli), peppers/capsicum, beetroot, egg-plant, red cabbage, carrots, corn and squash.
MAKE FRUIT YOUR FRIEND: Just because fruit contains sugar doesn’t mean you should put in the same category as other processed sweet treats. Waistline-friendly fruits like melons (watermelon, honeydew & rock melon), grapefruits, berries (raspberries, blueberries & blackberries), papaya and peach are low in kilojoules and loaded with belly-filling fiber which is essential for both healthy digestion and keeping your appetite in check. Lurking among these everyday-staples are also super-fruits. Chief among these is the pomegranate.
THE CRIMSON HEALTH CRUSADER: Loaded with antioxidant’s and Vitamin C, this tart-tasting fruit is good news for every aspect of your health. Here’s two ways to include it as part of your diet:
1. Juice It! Roll the fruit back & forth on a table with your palm, pressing lightly. Cut it in half and squeeze out the juice.
2. Sprinkle It! Use a spoon to scoop out the aril’s (red seeds) and then give your salad a summery spin with a generous sprinkling of these small, ruby-like jewels.
PACK-A-PUNCH WITH PROTEIN!
If you’re trying to lose weight, consider protein your secret weapon. The moment it passes your lips, this mega macro-nutrient begins to attack the fat around your middle and helps regulate your appetite during the day.
High protein power foods, like eggs, red meat, fish and low-fat dairy, force your body to work overtime to break them down. The best part is this extra ‘work’ doesn’t come cheap. It uses up stores of energy in the form of calories which means you burn fat while you chill out.
What’s more, these foods have a habit of hanging around longer in your stomach which helps to control your appetite and keep hunger pangs at bay. And if, as part of a healthy lifestyle, you’re also burning calories by getting active regularly (pumping iron or taming the treadmill), getting your protein-fix is doubly important.
HERE’S WHY: Protein helps you build and hang onto muscle tissue, which not only makes you leaner, but eagerly burns through calories when you’re resting. This keeps your metabolism firing on all cylinders around the clock – even while you’re watching TV – and helps burn off the occasional sweet treat!
HOW MUCH DO I NEED? As a general rule of thumb, experts advise between 0.5 and 1.0g of protein per pound (lb) of body-weight. So if you weigh 160lb’s, that’s 80 to 160g each day. If you’re active and want to slim down, aim for a happy-medium – around 120g.
WHERE DO I GET IT? Just like the ‘lite’ and ‘regular’ versions of yogurt you see at the supermarket, protein too comes in two different varieties; complete and incomplete. While nuts, whole grains, and veggie’s technically count, they don’t contain all nine of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Those that do, known as complete proteins, are typically found in animal products. Here are our best picks. Look to make each of these a regular staple of your diet.
Of course, this doesn’t mean each of your meals should be a vegetable-free zone. Pairing incomplete proteins, like grains (i.e. Cornmeal, Barley, Oats, Rice, Pasta & Buckwheat) together with legumes (i.e. Beans, lentils, dried peas, chickpeas & soy) gives you the full protein-punch and comes complete with all the benefits we’ve outlined above.
The great thing about protein is that with so many delicious and exciting combinations for you to try, getting your daily dose is a simple pleasure you – and your waistline – can look forward to everyday.
THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK!
Your diet sucks – literally. Every single day you guzzle down sugar-laden, nutritionally bankrupt drinks at home, on the job and during happy hour. Luckily, cutting back your consumption and making some smart swaps along the way is an easy route to a healthier, happier you. Re-think the way you drink with this 2-point action plan.
FRUIT JUICE: If it’s fruity it must be healthy, right? Wrong. Many fruit drinks are loaded with added sugars which can cause your waistline to balloon. For a healthier juice fix, go for fresh whole-fruits, smoothie’s or pump-up your juice with still or sparkling water. You’ll cut back on kilojoules without sacrificing the flavor.
ALCOHOL: Happy hour may be good for many things, but weight loss isn’t one of them. Most people are simply unaware of the high kilojoules and sugar content found in their favorite alcoholic drinks (ignorance truly is bliss!). Just checkout these belly-bulging kilojoule comparisons:
Of course, enjoying the odd glass won’t hurt and even has it’s perks, including reducing your risk of heart disease, but beware; go overboard and they’re on a one-way passage to that stubborn jelly-roll around your middle. The fix? Stretch out the kilojoules by adding soda water and ice to make a spritzer. You’ll still have fun, minus the guilty conscience.
TEA & COFFEE: Want to boost your metabolism and clock up some essential nutrients double-quick? You can with a humble cuppa’. Tea is a kilojoule free-zone if you drink it black, which is great news for your waistline. The same goes for coffee too. If you can’t handle trading in your two-sugar latté for a long-black, go for skim-milk instead. You’ll get a flavorsome mix without the extra calories.
WATER (A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND!): Maybe you’ve heard your girlfriends talk about “retaining water” and “feeling bloated”, and you’re afraid extra H2O might obscure your long, lean shape. “Fear not!” say experts. Ironically, the best way to get out of ‘cactus mode’ and shed excess water-weight is to boost your intake; the more dehydrated you are, the more you’ll hang on to available H2O.
Since your body doesn’t sense you’re parched until after the fact, staying topped up means drinking fluids preemptively. Keep a water bottle with you and sip it throughout the day. A good hydration test? Sneak a peak at your wee. If it’s not a clear/pale yellow, boost your intake.