I get it, there's a TON of information floating around out there about what's healthy and what's not. At times even I have to take a few minutes at the grocery store to sift through my selections. So I can only imagine how frustrating it could be for someone who doesn't have extensive training in nutrition. It's common that I have clients following a few basic diet rules they've picked up along the way because they read it somewhere or a friend told them about it. Only for me to give them the unfortunate news that everything they thought they were doing right could be causing more harm than good! Below are some of the more common ones I see in my practice...
Your workout routine for years has been spending countless hours on the elliptical at a moderate pace.
This very common workout routine will have you burning less and less calories over time. Chances are the calories you actually burn are much less than what the machine is reading. This is because your body gets more efficient with time, meaning it needs to expend less calories for the same workout. You want to constantly switch up your workouts and you always want to challenge yourself. Getting to the point where your lungs are burning your heart rate is up is what you should strive for whether it’s a 15 minute workout or 60 minute workout. *Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
You always have instant oatmeal or cereal for breakfast.
Many people believe having oatmeal or cereal in the morning is a healthy way to start their day. However, this may not be the case as many options tend to be high in sugar and carbs and low in protein and fiber! This high carb low fiber/protein breakfast will spike glucose levels, increase fat storage, cause energy dips, and leave you hungry shortly after. An ideal breakfast is a combination of high fiber and protein. If you choose oatmeal pick old fashion or steel cut with at least 4-6g fiber, and be sure to avoid any instant options. Pair your oats with a protein source like Greek yogurt or add protein powder to the oats. A healthier alternative is cooked quinoa with a bit of milk and nuts. Quinoa is high in plant based protein and fiber. For cereal, check the nutrition facts label for <10g sugar and at least 4-6g fiber. If the cereal has <10g protein add a protein source like a couple hard boiled eggs or cottage cheese on the side.
You have a protein shake after every workout.
Unless you're training for a competitive sport, race or complete 60+ minutes of an intense gym session, your body doesn't need to refuel with the additional calories from a protein shake. You can fuel and recover from moderate exercise by planning your meals and regular snacks around your activity. Even healthy and nutrient-dense foods have calories and can derail weight loss efforts if consumed in excess. Plan to eat one of your regular meals within an hour post-workout, be sure to include protein and complex carbs to replenish stores.
You avoid snacking throughout the day.
Mindless munching throughout the day can lead to unwanted weight gain and stall weight loss bit when snacking is planned and controlled it can actually help you lose weight and feel better. Going too long without eating can cause your glucose levels to drop leaving you feeling starved, lose energy and actually slow your metabolism, leading to over-eating later and storing fat immediately. Refueling every 3 to 4 hours, however, keeps your metabolism elevated and aids weight loss. Gauge the size of your snack by how hungry you are and when your next planned meal is. If you’re just slightly hungry and dinner is in 1-2 hours maybe grab a piece of fruit or small scoop of nut butter. If there’s 3-4 hours until your next meal opt for something a bit more filling to hold you over. Try hummus and carrots, Greek yogurt and berries or small protein bar.
You grab yogurt parfait.
Pre-made parfait can contain up to 25g/serving which is how much sugar you should have in an entire day. Many pre-made parfaits use flavored or regular (non-Greek) yogurt, with sweetened berries and sugary granola. Skip the coffee shop pre-made yogurt parfait and DIY with plain Greek yogurt, whole fruit, and a couple nuts sprinkled in for a satisfying breakfast. It will have much less sugar and much more protein and fiber, which will likely keep you full until lunch.
You always choose fat-free products.
There's no need to fear fat! When fat is stripped from products, manufacturers add extra sugar, salt, and artificial additives to boost the flavor and texture. Fat is digested slower than carbohydrates, which means you'll stay satiated and satisfied longer. Plus, fat is an essential nutrient vital for the most basic functions in our bodies, so instead of fat-free, opt for low-fat or full fat products.
You buy "multigrain" products versus whole grains.
"Multigrain" simply means that a variety of grains are contained in said product. Whole grain, however, implies that the entire grain, which contains more fiber and nutrients, is packed into that product. Especially when buying bread or bread products, be sure that "100% whole wheat flour" or "100% whole grain flour" is the first ingredient on the ingredient list!
I hope this information helps get you in the right direction. If you have any follow up questions don't hesitate to reach out.