Listen to this guys and gals for it comes from a man who’s still ecstatic about losing nearly 40lbs in weight. It was no quick fix, and took me one year. It wasn’t easy. I had to change my eating and drinking habits, but it’s worked and I am now at my fighting weight. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. However, what I now have for dessert is very different from the one I had in the past.
In the days when my favorite breakfast was fried eggs and bacon, pancakes or white toast, followed by a cup of coffee, I was 196lbs. I now weigh 158lbs. For a guy five-foot 10-inches tall, I am happy with that. The fact that in the past I also liked hamburgers, hot-dogs, muffins, pastry and ice cream ensured that I would stay too heavy. The trouble is those foods gave me an instant but short-lived hit. I would be hungry again soon afterward, and eat again. They were packed with calories. I discovered that just one hamburger, for example, contains up to 1,000 calories. In foods, beware of sugar. There are also significant amounts of it in cereals, soda drinks, sauces, alcohol and many other products.
So I decided to take these simple steps.
I cut out fried foods, such as eggs and bacon, hamburgers, hot-dogs, ice cream, sugar, white bread, soda drinks, doughnuts, shortbread, waffles, pancakes and canned fruit in syrup. They are all fast-release energy foods and packed with calories.
Is life worth living without them? Yes. Now that I am fit and healthy, my energy needs are satisfied by a simple and healthy diet. I have rolled oats, a banana and an apple in full-cream milk for breakfast. After a workout at the gym or a brisk walk, for lunch I eat tuna fish, boiled eggs and a slice of whole-wheat bread. For supper, I have steamed fish and vegetables, such as butter beans and chickpeas, followed by low-fat yoghurt as a dessert. I also cut down on alcohol consumption. By all means, have a glass of wine, a beer or a whisky, but be careful. A great deal of weight I initially put on came from my love of wine. I don’t drink soda pop anymore, just water, sometimes with a dash of lime, and up to eight glasses a day.
I don’t expect you to follow my diet to a “T”, but here are the foods I suggest you consider:
Spaghetti, brown rice, all-bran, lentils, baked beans, green peas, dried apricots, pineapples, pears, plums, mangoes, honey, chocolates (not too many!), raisins, nuts, honey and grapefruit juice.
Basically, you need to have three or four small meals day. The foods that I eat have enough carbohydrates, protein and fats to satisfy my energy needs. Some people swear by a high-protein and fat diet, others stress the need for carbs. In my view, a one-eyed approach isn’t necessarily a healthy one. Don’t let a desperate desire to lose weight cloud your thinking. A balanced diet is the best one, and it needs carbs, protein and fats. Many foods contain all three. It’s just a question of what you like to eat. I would avoid saturated fats, which are used to give products a longer shelf life in shops, because it’s harder to burn them off.
Because I ran in ultra-marathons in my younger days, I carbo-loaded the night before every race. While a brisk walk may first call on your fat reserves, running needs carbs straight up. Marathon runners talk of “hitting the wall”. That’s when you have used up all your carbs and the body has to get energy from fats, which convert into it more slowly. The result is usually a painful ending to the race.
I must admit that I once ran part of a 100-mile stage race in the Indian Himalayas on biscuits and bananas! Unfortunately, I had been afflicted by a dose of Delhi Belly, I suspect I picked up eating in Darjeeling a couple of days before the start of the race. So I was restricted to biscuits and bananas. I should rather have had a cup of their famous tea when in town. I survived running about 60 miles of the race on that diet, but was delighted when I could eat what I liked again. It’s important to know that many foods, including vegetables and fruits, contain carbs. People who promote hi-protein, hi-fat diets often lump all carbs together. But there are good and bad carbs and the following list includes some of the better ones in vegetables and fruits:
Vegetables: lettuce, spinach, collards, parsley, celery, radishes, mushrooms, avocado, asparagus, cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, squash, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, turnips, pumpkin, carrots, onions and leeks.
Fruits: apples, bananas, watermelon, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, cherries, Kiwi fruit, grapes, plums, peaches, pears and lemons.
You need protein, too. Here are some suggestions:
Eat boiled eggs, cottage cheese, almonds, milk, broccoli, lean beef, tuna and other fish and chicken breast.
For fats, here’s a list to choose from:
Avocado, cheese, boiled eggs, nuts, fish, dark chocolate, extra virgin oil and full-fat yoghurt.
An understanding of how your body gets energy helps. When you eat something, the food is broken down and the carbs in it become glucose. The glucose, in combustion with oxygen, produces energy. It is employed to make muscles work, organs function and stimulate your brain cells.
How effectively this is done depends on what you eat. That is, the raw materials you put into your body. If you eat foods that produce quick-release energy, they will burn up fast. You will get a quick energy hit, but it soon disappears. The slow-release foods burn for much longer and keep you going. The quality of the fuel you put in your body determines how long your energy lasts.
You will still need to consume fewer calories than you burn up. If you do, you will lose weight. I once worked out how many calories were in the food that I ate and what amount I burned up while exercising. I made sure that I got the combination right and my weight dropped. Don’t be in a hurry. Sticking to a too strict diet often leads to a binge. I used to treat myself occasionally to ice cream or even a hamburger when I thought I deserved one.
Exercise is a vital part of my plan. I have a light workout at the gym in the morning. I use the treadmill and stationary bicycle to work on my cardiovascular system, and other machines for my legs and upper body. I do some press-ups, sit-ups and stretching exercises. I head for the sauna and have a cold shower afterward. It leaves me feeling like a million dollars.
At first, exercising can be stressful. However, you soon get used to it and your body adapts. I don’t lift heavy weights. I am not set on trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am seeking endurance and simply want my body to work better. Cardio exercise strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, reduces the resting heart rate, improves sending oxygen to body tissues, widens the arteries to the heart and lowers cholesterol levels.
It’s also great mentally. My diet and exercise program hang together and both make a contribution. How many calories you burn off depends on what type of exercise you choose, whether it’s cycling, swimming, surfing, jogging, skiing, skating, aerobics, tennis, table tennis or walking.
Being overweight is no joke. You run the risk of many health problems, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. Plus your legs have to work overtime to carry the weight.
I’m not going to give you a list, or menus, of what to eat at breakfast, lunch and supper. You should be able to figure this out for yourself by now. If you eat sensibly, you will feel and sleep better and, more importantly, lose weight without running any health risks by buying into any new-fangled diets.
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The High Energy Diet! explains why all you need is a balanced diet to lose weight the healthy way. You need carbs, proteins and fats for energy. Forget about the faddish high-protein and high-fat diets. Your body also needs good carbs like you get from pasta, brown rice and even vegetables and fruits. Good carbs release energy slowly unlike bad carbs such as sugars, chocolates and pastry, which don't. Eat bad carbs and you'll be hungry again soon afterward. Make sure that you keep your food intake down. Four small meals a day will do the trick.