Sunday, 22 May 2011

Beachcamp rule #2: The big 5

Most diets and weight loss programmes are focussed on avoiding and restricting foods in an effort to take in less calories. As regular NITC readers will know, however, I'm not a great believer in calorie control as the best weight to achieve and sustain weight loss as it ignores your bodies natural food regulation and appetite and can distort eating behaviours - anyone calorie counting usually avoids foods rich in healthy fats such as nuts and oily fish. It is worth remembering that eating certain foods can actually help you lose weight by providing the nutrients you need, both to help keep stoke your metabolism, but also to regulate your appetite - if you're not getting the vitamins, minerals, essential fats and other nutrients that you need your body will increase your appetite, so that you'll eat more, to try and get those nutrients.

This is why Beachcamp rule #2 is to make sure each meal contains a healthy food from the five main macronutrient groups:
1. Water - covered in rule #1 - drink a glass when you wake up and before every meal
2. Fibre - found in fruit, vegetables and unrefined wholegrains (brown rice, wholemeal bread etc.)
3. Carbohydrates - these need to be unrefined to be good for you - so that means sticking to the brown grains - brown rice, brown bread, oats, as well as the slower digesting starchy vegetables: new potatoes, sweet potatoes and pulses.
4. Protein - have lean sources of protein such as seafood, pulses and tofu
5. Fats - have a source of essential fats with every meal. This could be oily fish, but also just adding a few olives or a sprinkling of seeds to your salad, or some chopped nuts stirred into your porridge.

Making sure you include a source of each of these five macronutrients will help keep your diet balanced and your body satisfied. I also make sure I have some fruit and/or vegetables with every meal .. but more on that tomorrow.

Just run through these in your head when you make your food choices and you'll quickly find it easy to include all the macronutrients.

For example:
Breakfast - say you usually have a brown of cereal then switch to a wholegrain variety - that ticks off fibre and carbohydrates, add a tablespoon of some flaked almonds or other nuts and seeds, that ticks off fats. And then have a small natural yoghurt, that's your protein, with some berries (extra fibre and antioxidants).

Lunch - Easy to tick these all off with a salad or sandwich - have brown bread or pasta or brown rice (carbohydrates and fibre), seafood, pulses or boiled eggs (protein) and then add some seeds for a salad, or spread of tahini or some sliced avocado to a sandwich and that's your fats ticked off the list.

If dinner is the traditional fare of meat and two veg, switch to fish (protein and essential fats if it's oily fish), swap the roast or mashed potatoes for new potatoes (carbohydrates) and then enjoy whichever other veg you would usually eat.

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