Having the right diet is not all it takes to lose weight and build a great body. You need to get control of a few ‘Make or Break’ moments that are bound to affect all of us.
If you want to lose fat and build more lean muscle, just knowing the ‘right’ foods to eat is not enough. For most of us, the lack of knowledge is not the problem – the motivation is. After all, who doesn’t know that brown bread is healthier than white bread? Or that having some grilled fish or chicken with a side of vegetable is any day a better option as compared to burger and fries?
There are a few moments that we have to deal with every day when we are tempted to stray off the path of good nutrition, and we make a slip knowing fully well that we are compromising with our health. So the best way to reduce risk of temptation is to pin point and identify these moments that can make or break your diet and be prepared to handle them diligently!
Here is a comprehensive list of which 10 moments through the course of the day are most susceptible to nutritional errors, which in turn wreck havoc on your diet in the long run. Additionally, there are simple solutions to power through those tricky moments, so that you give preference to nutrition ALWAYS and stay motivated to lose weight.
# 1 The Moment you wake up hungry –
The minute you wake up and smell the appetizing aroma of freshly brewed tea or coffee, you are reminded how hungry you really are. You sip the sweetened tea, and many a times will be too hungry to cook a ‘real’ breakfast so will choose to eat some cookies along with the tea for breakfast.
That is the mistake. Wake up and drink a large glass of water to begin with. This will suppress your hunger long enough for you to either make a big omelette loaded with veggies or some oatmeal. You need a nutritious, healthy breakfast in the morning to ensure that you don’t have mid-morning cravings for junk food and that you stay fuelled for your morning tasks. Have your morning dose of java along with a wholesome breakfast, not instead of it.
#2 Half an hour before gym –
Remember to set your clock to remind you that you are due at the gym in half an hour. This is the time to eat a snack, which is high in slow digesting proteins and carbohydrate, so that you have enough energy to handle a good workout.
Many of us forget to eat before the gym. The results – a poor workout accompanied with fatigue. That is what results in muscle breakdown and extra wear and tear. So make sure you eat a pre-workout snack with some simple carbohydrate and slow digesting proteins. A whole grain toast with low fat cheese, banana with peanut butter or a protein shake/bar will give you an energy boost to fuel your workout.
#3 After your workout –
Just finished gym and desperate to go home and crash? No, you need to refuel your body and eat a high protein and carbohydrate post-workout snack or meal. Extensive exercising brings about wear and tear, and your body needs amino acids to help repair the muscles, and a ready source of glycogen in your muscles that comes from carbohydrates.
If you have a hot meal waiting at home, make sure you get it on time, before your muscles have started to break down, negating all that hard work done at the gym. Otherwise, carry with you a shaker and a meal supplement protein powder that has fast digesting proteins and a good carbohydrate source to replenish your body with much needed nutrients.
#4 Stress at work –
Stress releases the hormone named Cortisol that makes you think you need a sugary snack, when in fact; all you really need is to let off steam. In a high stress situation, pass on the candy you hide in the drawer and go for a walk around the block. If you still cannot fight cravings for stress-eating, choose a bowl full of fruit or a handful of baby carrots to munch on while you mull over the project that is the very source of your stress again.
#5 You missed a snack –
We all know that we need 5 to 6 small meals in a day to keep our metabolism up and promote weight loss. But sometimes, you will end up missing a snack because you are in a meeting, or were on the phone and forgot about it. When hunger strikes you because your body is accustomed to eating 5 to 6 times a day, stay away from the vending machine. Instead, drink some water and go get the snack you intended to eat and missed.
Whether you brought a sandwich from home for snack time or intended to eat a handful of nuts, do just that and stop thinking about the cookies and chips calling out your name. If you are still hungry, get a cup of green tea sweetened with honey and you should be able to satisfy your cravings…at least for the time being!
#6 The minute you enter the supermarket –
Never ever go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Your hunger will take over your nutrition plan and make you pick more packaged snacks and ready-to-eat meals. Instead, have a good snack before you go to the supermarket, so that you are able to adhere to the list of healthy food items you want to re-stock or try out, and stick to only those.
Avoid the aisles for packaged foods completely if possible to keep temptation at bay and head to the fruits and vegetable section first to load up on healthy leafy greens and fruits. Next go to the raw meat section and pick up unprocessed lean cuts of meat. Finally, head to the grain section and pick whole grains, brown rice and a variety of herbs and spices to bring more flavour to your meals.
#7 You place your order at a restaurant –
This is a tricky one, but can make a huge difference. Instead of being tempted by the delicious selection of entrees on the menu, ask the server to help you choose the healthiest of meals that have high protein – low fat – complex carbohydrates so that you don’t stray from your nutritional goals.
Order smart when eating out – choose grilled, broiled or steamed dishes instead of those cooked in heavy gravies or cream and definitely stay away from anything fried. Request the server to swap a few side dishes – for example ask for mashed potatoes or salad in place of fries or wedges, multigrain bagel/toast instead of hearty Italian bread or to cook your Indian meal in mustard oil instead of refined vegetable oil.
#8 You are halfway through dinner –
This is the moment you need to stop and chew more consciously. Most of us are so engrossed in talking and eating dinner, we don’t wait to stop and pay attention to the signals our tummy sends to the brain when full. It takes up to 10 minutes before satisfaction registers, and if you disregard this impulse and continue to chomp through these 10 minutes, you are more likely to overeat.
#9 Commercial breaks in between your favourite TV show –
For many people, a commercial break calls for a snack! In India, the concept of dinner means eating post 8’o clock, so it is not advisable to reach for a snack at all before you hit the bed. In fact, you probably are craving for food at 10pm because you want to keep your hands engrossed!
Pick up something to knit, keep your tab handy to browse through the net during commercial breaks or simply call and talk to a friend instead to take your mind off food. If you don’t succeed, choose to munch on an apple instead of eating chips or popcorn, because the pectin in apple will help you fall off to sleep easily as well as satiate your hunger.
#10 You wake up in the middle of the night –
If you often wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, you are more than likely to start feeling hungry soon. Lack of sleep tricks your body in to thinking it needs fuel to generate energy because of increased levels of the hormone Ghrelin in the body and reduced levels of hormone Leptin in the body. So, the ideal thing to do when craving a midnight snack is to practice some deep breathing exercises, have half a glass of low fat milk, and try to go back to sleep.
Now you see how many moments we encounter in our day to day lives that can alter the course of our diet? Recognising them is just the beginning; but with practice you will soon be able to cope with these moments with a calm head without jeopardising your diet in any way what-so-ever.
You may also enjoy reading this article on 4 dreaded mistakes that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Good Luck!