First of all, let"â¢s assume you want to decrease your body fat percentage as opposed to just losing weight. Next, I do not believe in "dieting" to lose weight. Dieting is not only ineffective against lifetime weight management, it is detrimental to your health. Any nutritional approach should be incorporated as part of your lifestyle.
That being said, there is no one diet that is right for everyone. If there was, we would all be on it. Everyone is biochemically and metabolically unique. This explains why some people do best on a higher carbohydrate approach while others do best on a higher protein approach. For this reason, it is best to seek the advice of a certified nutritional consultant based on your health history, your eating habits and your goals. However, here are a few general recommendations that apply to just about everyone.
1. Never hungry, never full. Another way of saying this is to eat small, frequent meals. We have all heard this one numerous times, but it is still one of the most important laws for maintaining a healthy body fat composition. To determine how small and how frequent, simply avoid ever feeling hungry or full. In other words, your portions should be just enough to satisfy your hunger and frequent enough so you don"â¢t go more than a few minutes go by once you begin feeling hungry. The goal here is to balance your blood sugar and eventually your metabolism. The moment you begin feeling hungry is the moment that your body begins conserving energy, your metabolism begins to slow down and your body begins to store fat. If you eat until you feel "stuffed" or full, your digestion system is overloaded and excess calories or stored as fat.
2. Eat protein with every meal. This applies to snacks as well. One of the leading causes of excess body fat storage is hyperinsulinemia in response to excess consumption of refined or refined carbohydrates. The best way to normalize your body"â¢s insulin response is to always eat some form of protein and/or fat with your carbohydrates. Carbohydrates signal your pancreas to release insulin, which has the effect of burning blood sugar for energy and storing fat. Protein signals your pancreas to release glucagons, which tells your body to burn fat for energy. Eating a piece of fruit or bread by itself will cause a sharp rise in your blood sugar and a subsequent release of insulin. Eating some nuts, yogurt, or some kind of meat with the fruit or bread will buffer the insulin response so that body fat storage is not the end result. The long term effect of this practice is to balance your blood sugar and to keep your pancreas functioning optimally. An added benefit of this practice is that you will likely increase your daily intake of protein, which is an essential nutrient for maintaining lean muscle tissue and ultimately stimulating your resting metabolic rate (as long as you are combining it with a regular resistance training regimen).
3. Keep your sugar intake to a minimum. This is definitely a tough one to follow. For some people, sugar is a serious addiction. Eating less sugar is an excellent dietary recommendation for any health condition, and fat loss is no exception. Try to stay under 20 grams of sugar per day. Incidentally, most 8 ounce servings of yogurt on the market contain at least this much sugar. This just means you have to start reading labels and choosing lower sugar alternatives to the foods you are currently eating. If you are having extreme difficulty avoiding sugar, then read my article on "Kicking That Sugar Habit" for some tips.
4. Drink plenty of water. Water is an essential nutrient for every metabolic function in the human body, including burning fat. Drinking plenty of water also has the effect of maintaining satiety. So how much water should you drink? Generally, by the time you feel thirsty you are likely already dehydrated. We recommend drinking one at least Ã ½ once of water per pound of body weight. If you exercise on a regular basis or are fairly active, you should drink 2/3 ounce of water per pound of body weight. If this seems like a lot of water relative to what you are currently drinking, then do not attempt to drink these amounts right away. It is best to gradually begin increasing the amount of water you are currently drinking by 12 to 16 ounces each day until you reach the recommended goal. You may find yourself in the bathroom a great deal more at first, but your body will eventually adapt and you will only be in there slightly more than you are currently used to.