BY SHOSHANA PRITZKER, RD, CDN
Word around the gym is that the ketogenic diet is the next best thing to burn fat fast. Or was it intermittent fasting? Or maybe the Paleo diet? Is your head spinning? All these programs, promising the body of your dreams in a flash, have one thing in common: they’re all diets! And with any diet comes pitfalls: minimal carbs, no alcohol, absolutely zero artificial sweeteners, and guess what … no eating for the next 16 hours. Yikes!
With so many conflicting plans, it’s easy to end up lost and confused. While diets will always have a place in the fat-loss world, their negative characteristics can leave a bad taste in your mouth. When you feel deprived, cravings and the desire to eat forbidden foods rises tenfold. This alone should stop you in your dieting tracks. Here’s a novel idea — forget dieting and instead eat whole, unprocessed foods throughout the day. If you feel like having a cocktail at the holiday party or a few biscuits at morning tea, you should do so. Just don’t go overboard. Remember, one splurge won’t ruin your diet, just like one workout won’t make you fit. The key to the perfect diet is having a plan and sticking to it. Try not to let more than four hours go by without eating something, and always have an idea of what (and when) you’re going to eat next. Keep a variety of healthy, whole foods around, and bring a snack (or entire meal) along with you when necessary. Eating the right foods at the right times makes it easier for you to achieve diet perfection.
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites + 1/3 cup oat bran hot cereal (cooked in water or non-fat milk) + 1/2 sliced banana
1 medium apple + 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
115g grilled chicken breast chopped + 1/4 cup black beans + 1/2 cup brown rice + 1/4 cup guacamole + sauteed capsicum and onions + 2 tablespoons salsa + 2 tablespoons low-fat shredded Mexican cheese + 1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce + 1/4cup diced tomato
115g grilled salmon or white fish + 1/2 baked sweet potato + 1 tablespoon whipped butter + 1 cup steamed vegetables
PRE-WORKOUT OR POSTWORKOUT
1 scoop whey protein powder mixed with water
Calories 1,610, total fat 66g, saturated fat 22g, trans fat 0g, protein 121g, sodium 1,798mg, carbs 138g, fibre 24g, sugar 44g
WHAT TO EAT
Breakfast: The perfect breakfast is one that is packed with protein and contains a high-fibre, wholegrain carb source — a bowl of porridge with a couple of eggs fits the bill quite well. Pairing the two will provide you with sustained energy to wake you up and help you get your day started. Bonus points: add a dose of healthy fats to keep you full and satisfied.
Morning Snack: A snack before lunch will help extend your focus and ward off hunger pangs until mealtime. Look for something rich in protein and/or healthy fats. Think Greek yoghurt, nuts, string cheese and peanut butter.
Lunch: A balanced meal is best for lunch to get you over the afternoon slump. Fill your lunchbox with heaps of protein, a serving of complex carbs and a bit of healthy fats. Don’t forget your fruits and veggies!
Pre-workout or Post-workout: If you’re not hitting the gym until after work, you may want to make this meal your afternoon snack (aka pre-workout meal). Fuel your muscles and your sweat session with 20 to 30 grams of whey protein powder mixed in water or milk.
Dinner: Make protein the star of your dinner plate — think sirloin steak, salmon, grilled chicken breast and tofu (for animal-free protein eaters). Be sure to include a large portion of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, beets and any of the leafy green varieties. Round out your meal with a serving of complex carbs and healthy fats.
Fill up on water and other zero-calorie beverages. Drinking calories is a waste. Opt for zero-calorie beverages, including lots of water, coffee, unsweetened iced or hot tea and flavoured drinks.
Remember to enjoy one to two treat meals each week. It’s not a treat day, it’s a treat meal, so enjoy an evening out with your girls or attend the office Christmas party. Just don’t act as if it’s a free-for-all. The last thing you want to do is eat back all your hard work!