The no tracking guide to weight loss
Food tracking apps like my fitness pal and fit bit are a fantastic way to find out how many calories you are consuming per day as well as the macro nutrition breakdown of those calories. In a weight loss scenario, once you are aware of your average intake you can then start to decrease your intake until you lose the weight you want. These apps are very powerful with a vast library of useful information and can serve as very effective tools for losing weight. However, with our modern lives being so heavily based around technology like computers and smartphones, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to add in an additional stress inducing task like tracking your food. The great news is that there are many other ways to focus on nutrition but without tracking your food.
Quite simply this method is about decreasing the amount of refined carbohydrates on your plate and swapping them out for higher protein and higher fibre sources. Most families have some sort of structure to their meals in a week. Fish and chips, shepherd's pie, bolognese, roast dinner, curry, stir fry, meat and two veg. These are a few of the standard dishes that we see our clients eat. By having some structure it makes adaptations easier. So step one is really to form some structure to your meals if you haven't got one already since it's quite hard to control randomness!
Once you have your weekly structure in place then it's time to look at the foods you eat and see how you can optimise. Let's break down one of the nation's favourite meals… spaghetti bolognese. Growing up, this was a firm favourite in our family. We would have piles and piles of beige spaghetti with bolognese pooled on top. It was delicious and still is. As I have got older and started my own family I realise that unless I am doing a ridiculous amount of exercise I do not need that much carbohydrate. So to give my guts and blood sugar levels a better chance of staying healthy for longer I made some changes to the traditional meal. In so doing I reduced the calorie total per serving as well as increased the amount of protein, fibre and vitamins!! Winner winner!!
Here's how to do it…
20% mince down to 5% mince. Although you lose some of the juiciness you massively reduce the calorie totals and increase the amount of protein per serving.
Secret vegetables. Bolognese always comes packed full of tomatoes, garlic and onions but what I also like to do is finely chop up lots of peppers and broccoli or kale and courgette. By chopping them fine and cooking long enough they become part of the sauce and you barely notice them.
My spaghetti to sauce ratio growing up was about 4-1 and if I ever wanted more sauce I would need to take more spaghetti too. Spaghetti was cheap! These days that ratio is more like 2-1. The sauce which is now full of higher protein meat and vegetables is far more filling meaning I don't need as much spaghetti. Plus over the years you get used to not filling yourself to bursting point (which is a feeling many of us have grown to love) and are satisfied at 80% capacity.
Meal by meal you can gradually change the balance of energy to be more suitable for longevity and weight loss. It is really simple and can be done by just following these basic points…
Increase protein per serving by switching to a leaner meat alternative and eating a larger portion of meat per serving
Add secret vegetables to increase fibre count
Reduce serving size of refined carbohydrates since you are not a marathon runner and need to get used to not feeding until you are full.
Overall the plate of food will look about the same size but the ratios are different and the calories less.
Why do these switches!?
Protein requires the most energy gram for gram to breakdown and use as energy. Therefore the more of it you have the more energy you burn (increased metabolism). Protein is also the main nutrient involved in building and maintaining muscle mass. As we go through the menopause our muscle mass begins to decline, by eating more protein we help slow down the loss.
Fibre is vital for gut health. A lot of our immunity stems from our gut, so the healthier it is the healthier we will be. Fibre also contains zero calories. This means if we are switching out vegetables for refined carbohydrates we will be consuming less calories overall but still getting that same level of fullness.
Understand that refined carbohydrates have been pushed onto us because they are cheap to produce and easy to create into unique products which can be sold at a premium to increase profits. They are convenient, but come at a cost due to how easily we can overeat on them! Instead reduce the portion sizes of your carbohydrates like rice, spaghetti, pasta, potatoes and bread and switch for more high fibre vegetables and a bigger portion of protein.
Give it a go and let us know how it goes!!