All the good intentions in the world won't help you lose weight and get healthier if you don't change your lifestyle. Before you go crazy and radically change your diet, with the hopes of losing weight and shedding fat, there are a few things you should do or learn in order to have healthier eating habits. These habits will create a healthier lifestyle overall and aid in maintaining weight or fat loss goals.
Keep a Food Journal
The first thing to do is to figure out exactly what you're putting into your mouth and in what quantity. Oftentimes, a person eats a lot more than he or she realizes, and writing down every single piece of food eaten and beverages drank throughout the day is a giant wake-up call. Once you figure out exactly how many calories in total and what the macro ratio is (more on that later), it's easier to see where things need to be changed. Continue with tracking food until you are completely comfortable with planning and mentally journaling your daily food choices.
When you record your food, you can head online and find out the caloric intake in addition to the ratio of macros (protein, carbs, and fat). This will allow you to fine-tune your food intake as needed. Food records can be kept in a simple spiral-bound lined notebook, or you can use an elaborate specially designed book. It's up to you. The important part is that you actually write down everything, because when you report your intake, your accountability will increase and you may even experience results faster!
Before you start counting, you'll need to figure out exactly how many calories you need to eat. This is based on your age, gender, weight, activity level, goal, and how much time you have to lose the excess weight. You can use an online calculator to determine your Resting Metabolic Rate and from there, input your activity level to determine your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Your TDEE is the number of calories to intake per day to maintain your current weight. Once you determine your TDEE, you can decide if you want to maintain, lose, or gain weight. You play with your caloric intake based on that information.
When it comes to calories, one gram of protein has four calories, one gram of carbohydrates has four calories, and one gram of fat has nine calories. A good ratio in any healthy lifestyle is 40/40/20: 40 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 20 percent fat.
This section is directly connected to recording. You'll need to figure out how much and what you're eating in the first place, and then once you plan your meals, you'll need to count calories and macros to make sure you stay on-point. All you need is a food scale, measuring cups, and a calculator. A book that shows you calories/macros or a good website or app is essential, as well. This is for foods that don't come with nutritional labels: think meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other things that don't come in a box or bag. These foods don't have the nutritional information you'll need to track your food. If what you choose does come in a package, just use that info to track your intake.
Plan Your Meals
Now you know how much you should be eating for a healthier lifestyle, you can make your food decisions based on the calories and macro ratio. Try out the 40/40/20 ratio based on your caloric intake. If you're hungry all the time, increase your protein (you'll have to decrease carbs to make up for it). Or increase the fat and decrease the carbs. Different plans work for different people. The main thing to realize is that healthy food choices include shopping from the outside edge of the store instead of from the highly processed aisles.
Don't drive yourself crazy trying to track every little thing every day. If you're out and about, just try to stay vigilant and keep as close as possible to your plan. If you have to eat at a restaurant, choose something as unadorned as possible, like chicken breast, broccoli, and rice (or something similar) so you know how to track it. Ask for them to cook it without extra oils or seasonings. Learn how many calories are in most commonly eaten foods, learn how much a serving looks like on your plate, keep track of your eaten foods, and most of all, realize this is a journey. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Rick Rockwell has held many Health and Fitness titles like personal trainer, teacher, lifestyle coach wellness coordinator and supplement consultant. Currently, he’s a Content Marketer in high demand and can be found managing SupplementReviews.com.