What will you learn?
With the help of this guide you will receive valuable information and practical advice through which to build useful eating habits – to feel good, to achieve your goals, to enjoy what is on your plate.
You will learn:
- What is food;
- Why it is not good to talk about diets;
- How to eat;
- How to plan meals;
- What to do if the plan fails;
- What is important to be present in the menu;
- How to choose our food;
- How much water to drink;
- What is important to know about calories;
- What to do if we have health restrictions.
What is food and why do we eat?
We assume that you are well acquainted with the phrase: “You are what you eat”. We could expand it by saying that we are what we digest, absorb and assimilate through the cells in our body. That is why it is important to pay attention to food and its quality. Food is made up of various substances – the well-known proteins, carbohydrates, fats (macronutrients), as well as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (micronutrients) and water.
All nutrients are important for physiological needs, and the type of food (its quality) is important for how we will feel and whether we will help each other for better health and body composition, which in turn have a positive impact on lifestyle and self-perception. We eat to maintain a complex system, such as the human body, and the way we eat is important for quality of life, because food is not just fuel, but information.
Nutrition – yes, diet – no
You may be surprised, but in our team we do not like the combination “diet”. And not because it is wrong, but because it often leads to wrong choices and / or perceptions by beginners. The diet is associated with beginning and end. With something we start on Monday and end after 10, 30, 60 days, until the summer, until the ball, until “that important meeting where I have to look good”.
Many people fall into the trap because they say to themselves “it’s only 30 days, I’ll starve a little”, they make the wrong choice and not only do they not achieve their goal, but they feel even worse from the beginning. That is why it is good to talk about nutrition – a way of eating that has no end, with which you will be able to achieve your goals and feel good in your body. Nutrition that will give all the substances necessary for the optimal functioning of your body, but also that will bring you pleasure, not unpleasant sensations.
Before “what” to eat – “how” to eat?
You must scroll down to see what to eat and whether we have accidentally written a “magic formula for success”. But there is no universal one, and before you learn what to eat, it is good to know HOW to eat. If you need to make only one change in your diet at first, then let it be in the direction of slow and calm eating. What do we mean? Chew food well, do not run around your plate and eat, if possible, in a relaxed atmosphere. These things have several benefits:
- improve digestion and hydration;
- reduce the feeling of bloating;
- slow eating can prevent wrong choices in various eating disorders;
- the signals for satiety are given a chance to reach the brain, which in turn will prevent us from overeating;
- in aid of the desire to lose weight;
- contribute to the pleasure of food and the enjoyment of this process.
Nutrition planning according to our daily needs and capabilities
Before planning your diet according to your individual characteristics, it is important to remember that in the world of nutrition there is no universal regime and advice that applies to all people. For a moment, forget about all those “mandatory” things that have passed before your eyes: “you should eat breakfast”, “you should not eat after 18:00”, “you should eat often and less”, etc. .n. Focus on your own needs and capabilities, because none of the above examples is the only truth. Consider the following:
How many times a day can you eat? Maybe you don’t have time for breakfast or you don’t feel good doing it; maybe your job is specific and you do not have the opportunity for frequent meals / meals at certain hours or you work in shifts that require another organization. It doesn’t matter how many times a day you eat to achieve your goals, as long as there are other factors that will be discussed below.
What physical activity do I have? Plan your diet according to your physical activity – if your daily routine is dynamic, on the move, and your workouts are intense and strenuous, you will probably need more food and / or more frequent meals, larger portions, but not necessarily. If you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, have a sedentary job, and physical activity is reduced to 4-5 hours a week, you can feel good with fewer meals. There is no universal formula – try to know the signals of your body, and if you need help, you know where to find us.
Do we eat alone – family, friend? This factor is also important for meal planning – do we have to cook for someone else, do we have people at the table who eat differently and who would influence our food choices, do we want to have dinner with our family and do we have to comply? with specific hours, etc.
The main thing is to remember that there is no universal regime and you can always organize meals according to your daily needs.
How do we control our food when the plan goes awry?
It is good to have a plan – it guarantees us security, peace, comfort. But sometimes Plan A can explode for reasons beyond our control, other commitments, a set of events, and so on. In such cases, you may have to compromise with yourself and the food – to eat something that is not the optimal choice, not to eat at all or to put plan B into action and to arrange meals according to the available possibilities (nearby shop / restaurant) .
Remember that nothing fatal has happened and you will not fail any of what has been achieved so far, as long as you do not go with the flow, saying to yourself: “I have already ruined my regime, I ruined everything achieved, there is no point in continuing …” No, it also makes sense if most of the time you make good food choices and follow habits that are right for you, then episodic situations with inappropriate food will not spoil your results. Here are some practical tips you can apply to a failed plan:
- Choose the lesser evil – prefer a sandwich with meat and vegetables instead of a hot dog with sausage and mayonnaise;
- go to a nearby store and buy yogurt and raw nuts instead of ice cream and salads;
- Don’t overeat and don’t take extra, deceiving yourself with the thought “I’ve ruined my regime anyway, I’ll get another one”;
- Chew slowly, eat in peace; Don’t eat if you think you can last a while until you find a good choice of foods;
- Don’t blame yourself if Plan B also fails.
Food, not calories
When it comes to food, most people associate it first with calories, then with protein, carbohydrates and fats. Above all, however, we eat food and yes – it matters what foods come from the calories we eat to feel good, energetic, healthy, achieve our goals and improve ourselves. It is important in our menu to have whole and unprocessed foods – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, unrefined fats, whole grains, water.
Sugar, trans fats, refined products, canned foods, semi-finished products and similar products should be kept to a minimum. Try to eat the amount of protein you need, because it is a key macronutrient – the amino acids that make up proteins are responsible for our structure, our hormones, the enzymes we can’t live without, the antibodies of our immune system and more. We assume that you know about the essential amino acids that our body cannot create and we have to take them with food.
Remember to include colorful foods such as green, red, yellow, white and purple. They will not only make your diet colorful and pleasing to the eye, but will also contribute a number of benefits. We know that you are a beginner in the field and you need more guidance, so we will give you some “rules” that you can follow:
- Eat a source of protein at every meal – an animal product or plant source that is rich in protein;
- Eat vegetables at every meal – colorful, seasonal, preferably raw;
- Eat more carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, whole grains) when you deserve them – after training / great physical activity in everyday life;
- Eat healthy fats – saturated (cow’s oil, coconut oil), polyunsaturated (fish oil, nuts, linseed oil) and monounsaturated (nuts, olive oil, olives). Try to have of every kind;
Follow the rule 80/20 or 90/10 – about 80-90% of your food should be rich in valuable nutrients, unprocessed, fresh, without sugar and trans fats, and 10-20% should be for those things you know about that they do not give anything useful to your body, but you still want to be present.
Food selection, menu and budgeting
As already mentioned, there is no universal diet, which means that when choosing food you can be guided by personal preferences, budget and storage capacity. Try to base your menu on foods that are rich in valuable nutrients for your body. Keep sugars and trans fats to a minimum.
Comply with the foods you love – make a list of the main sources of protein, fat and carbohydrates that give you pleasure and eat willingly. Add to them your favorite vegetables and spices. You already have a main list. The next step is to study the market prices and take into account whether the desired purchases fit into the monthly budget. Remember that you do not need to eat extremely expensive foods to be successful in your endeavors and / or to feel good. This can happen with well-known local products, at “folk” prices.
Pay attention to the shopping time you can spend a week – once, twice or more. It depends on what products you will buy and how you will store them – in the refrigerator, in the camera and / or in the kitchen. Then comes the big question: should we eat at home or outside? The truth is that if you can find such a balance that most of your food is home-cooked, you will benefit from a number of benefits – better control over food, compliance with personal preferences, always fresh food tailored to the needs. mode, enjoyment of cooking, saving money.
It’s never too late to start cooking if you want to – it doesn’t take that long if you can create a good organization and a preliminary plan.
Water and daily needs
Yes, we know you want to know how much water you need to drink. But before that we will clarify why it is important to drink enough water. Water is vital and approximately 60% of our weight is made up of water. It has important functions: transport, participation in chemical processes such as catalyst, joint lubricant, body temperature regulator, protective function, source of minerals and others.
The amount of water depends on personal weight, body composition, physical activity, ambient temperature and others. We get the necessary amount of fluids both with water and through food (mainly from fruits and vegetables). You can determine all this amount in two ways:
- Take 30-40 ml of water per kilogram of body weight. If you weigh 60 kg, this means drinking 1.8 – 2.4 liters per day;
- Or determine your needs by taking between 80-110 ml of fluid for every 100 kcal of your BMR;
- Don’t forget to include physical activity in the bills as well as the ambient temperature;
- It is important to drink plenty of fluids – neither dehydrate nor drink too much water relative to sodium levels in the body (hyponatraemia).
And the calories!
Calories, calorie counting, calorie balance We said we eat food first, not calories, but that doesn’t mean calories don’t matter. Keep in mind that calorie balance is not a myth and it determines whether you will lose, gain or maintain weight. If the calories you consume are more than you burn, you will gain weight; if the calories absorbed are less than the ones expended, you will lose weight; if the calories absorbed are equal to the ones expended, you will maintain weight.
There are formulas for determining personal caloric balance, but it is becoming increasingly clear that these formulas do not give a 100% accurate number due to various factors:
- Intestinal flora and how many calories you will absorb;
- Does the nutritional value of a particular product match the tables you use to calculate your calories? What part of your menu is occupied by indigestible fiber;
- Method of food preparation;
- Method of food storage;
- Inaccuracy in the labeling and provision of nutritional information for a product, etc.
That’s why it’s important to understand that you can count calories, but you can’t predict what will happen in reality, and it’s more important to watch yourself change things on the go.
Alternative way of measuring food (our recommendation)
Our experience shows that for a beginner it is very likely that counting calories will be a stumbling block in the endeavor to achieve goals. If you also think that this is not for you and will rather make it difficult for you, making you irritated by your future better eating habits, then we offer you an alternative way to measure food and determine portions – the method through the hands. All you need are your hands:
- The palm is responsible for the portion of protein;
- The fist determines the amount of vegetables;
- The folded hand shows the carbohydrate ration;
- The thumb is responsible for the necessary fats.
The thickness and diameter of the food (ready-made dimension) must be equivalent to that of the palm and fist. The “palm” measure does not include the fingers.
Distribution of macronutrients
We agreed not to change. So here’s a template that can determine the amount of macronutrients in the size of your palms, palms, thumbs and fists. For women (at each meal):
* for liquid fats (olive oil) use as a guide a tablespoon – 1 tbsp. in the salad for women and 1.5 – 2 tbsp. for men (at one meal). ** vegetables can be eaten in larger quantities if 1-2 fists are not enough for you.
And how many such portions to have per day?
We will hardly surprise you with another answer that everything is strictly individual. However, with this method of determining the amount of food with the palms, 4 servings a day is a good guide (but not mandatory or the only possible option).
Nutrition and health restrictions / barriers
If you have an allergy to a food, a specific disease and / or problems with the digestive system, which require a specific approach in food selection, cooking and complete nutrition, then consult your doctor and plan things according to the recommendations of the specialist.