Spring is here, which means many are looking to get into shape and perhaps obtain that bikini silhouette again! Do not do it through drastic dieting, since these might be damaging for the body and lead to results that you would not expect nor desire. Just start off by applying these five simple tricks!
1. Do not skip out on breakfast
Breakfast is an important meal of the day. It will help keep you energized and increase your productivity, in addition to helping with weight management. A nutritious breakfast should include a source of carbohydrates (fruit, high fiber cereal, high fiber starch) and a low fat source of protein (egg, greek yogourt, low fat cheese). Before tackling the day, fuel up on a nutritious breakfast!
For breakfast recipe ideas, click here.
2. Have small frequent meals and snacks
Having many smaller portioned meals versus few large meals will help you recognize you hunger and fullness signals. Having small frequent meals and snacks will also keep your energy stable throughout the day. At times, when having large time gaps between meals, our hunger grows and we tend to eat with our eyes, instead of listening to our hunger signals. This might lead to eating larger portions during our meals. Large meals can also be counterproductive, since they lead to fatigue and lower energy levels, which might not be optimal on a busy day.
During my day, I typically have four small meals (at 7:00am, 12:00pm, 5:00pm and 8:30pm) and two snacks (10:00am and 3:00pm). Meal and snack times vary according to each person’s need and schedules, so you do not have to follow these exact times. The key is to be consistent, and have about 4 to 6 hours between meals and snacks if needed.
3. Have complex carbohydrates during every meal
Complex carbohydrates (carbs) will help provide your body with long term energy. Unlike fast and refined sugars, such as candies and sweets, that only give you a quick energy boost and at times a sugar crash, complex carbohydrates bring a stable and longer lasting energy to your body. In addition, they will help keep you fuller for longer! These complex carbohydrates can be found in whole wheat starches, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, beans, sweet potato, whole wheat pasta, high fiber cereals… Complex carbs are our friends, not our foes. Do not be afraid of adding some to your food habit. Skipping out on them could be damaging. The lack of fuel in the body could cause sugar cravings (cookies, candies, chocolate…), crankiness or lack of energy. So try adding complex carbs in small amounts to each meal!
4. Use lean protein sources and cooking methods that do not require more than 2 tbs of oil
Using leaner meats will reduce the amount of “bad fats” that you intake during the day. You can have protein sources such as egg, poultry (skinless breast, thigh or leg), porc (not the skin or bacon, but tenderloin, top loin or center loin), lean beef (lean or extra-lean ground beef, eye of round, top round, tip round) or fish. For the same amount of meat, a leaner cut will not only have less fat and calories from fat, but it will also have more protein than fattier cuts! You can also replace animal proteins by vegan protein sources.
In addition to reducing the quantity of fat from protein sources, using cooking methods that require less than two table spoons of oil will also be beneficial. These methods include steaming, boiling, baking in the oven, stir-frying, slow-cooking or cooking with a non-stick pan. Stay away from deep frying, butter poaching and restaurant cooking (restaurants often add more oils and fats than we would think).
5. Include at least one (or more) vegetable during every meal
Vegetables are great sources of fibers, which help you stay hydrated and fuller for longer. Vegetables (without dressing, sauces or dips) usually have very little calories and many nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, E and K that have a great anti-oxydant power! Including different types of vegetables and having a colourful plate is the way to go to include as many different types of nutrients possible. The more, the merrier! For portion and hunger control, try eating your vegetables at the beginning of your meals.