By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Over the winter months I lost ten pounds, which puts me at my leanest weight since I started road cycling. I can already feel the advantage of carrying less weight up steep inclines. I hadn’t intended to lose the weight; it was an unexpected outcome of changing my diet.
When you weigh more than you should, it’s easy to get down on yourself and feel like you eat too much. But often what you’re eating can be more of a problem than how much. If you cycle a lot but still have trouble maintaining a healthy weight, you could be eating foods that aren’t working well for your body type. By experimenting with your diet, rather than dieting, you can discover what you need to eat to be healthy, vibrant and full of energy.
Here are my seven best weight loss tips:
1) Stick to Whole Grains, Shun Flour
Not everyone has trouble digesting flour products such as bread, cookies, muffins and cakes but many people do. If you have difficulty losing weight, this is the number one food source to eliminate to see how it affects your weight and energy. For a couple of weeks replace flour products with whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and millet and see if you lose weight and have more energy. Taking bread products out of your daily diet requires a bit more planning but it’s relatively easy to build your meals around whole grains instead.
2) Eat Vegetables, Not Too Much Fruit
How many vegetables? Lots. Vegetables are packed with nutrients that your body needs and they’re low in calories. Eat them either raw in a salad, or green smoothie or steamed, not boiled. Have a large salad for lunch with an olive oil-based dressing. At dinner, half of your plate should be filled with vegetables. Limit your fruit intake to 2 or 3 servings a day.
3) Get Enough Protein and Healthy Fats
Eating a small serving of protein with each meal will keep you fuller longer. How much protein do you need each day? You can find out here.
Add healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and coconut oil to your daily diet. Fats are necessary for all aspects of your health, especially your brain health. I’ve known women who actually lost weight after adding healthier fats to their diet.
4) Use the 80/20 Rule
We all need some wiggle room. That’s why I follow the 80/20 rule. I’m quite strict about what I eat throughout the work week but I allow myself little treats on the weekends. For example, on the weekend I’ll have a glass of wine with my meal and a dessert. Occasionally I’ll even have some junk food like potato chips.
5) Avoid White Sugar, Rice, Potatoes
Fill your shopping cart with bright coloured fresh produce and you can’t go wrong. Avoid the white stuff, except for treats (see the 80/20 rule). White sugar, rice, even white potatoes are digested rapidly, providing a quick energy buzz that fizzles out almost as fast, leaving you depleted. If you really like white potatoes, buy the small ones and use them to fuel your bike rides instead. Here’s how to do that.
6) Reduce Alcohol
Women who drink alcohol frequently throughout the week, almost always underestimate how much they drink. Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories, and more than one drink a day is harmful for women. It’s also dehydrating. If you drink, make sure you’re well hydrated before and after, and follow the 80/20 rule.
7) Say No to Junk Food—(Especially Soda Pop)
We all love our comfort food. And that’s okay if you follow the 80/20 rule and just have it occasionally. Junk food, especially soda pop, has a lot of calories and no nutritional value. There are lots of healthy alternatives to soda pop. Diet soda pop isn’t one of them. For example, try fruit juice diluted 50/50 with mineral water, or mineral water with lemon juice and stevia as a sweetener. The leaves of the stevia plant are about 400 times sweeter than sugar and it’s completely natural. You can find stevia in health-food stores.
If you make a habit of nourishing yourself with the best foods you can most of the time, then occasionally eating sweets or a bit of junk food won’t add up to extra weight gain or compromise your health.
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