(disclaimer a bit of a long post –
The amount of time people see the concoction of chicken, rice and broccoli as the only way to ‘diet’ and lose weight is astounding. The media and social network have negatively impacted our views of how we can successfully lose weight and diet. In fact, you can GAIN weight whilst eating this and there is a vast difference from eating ‘clean’ to eating to lose weight. We associate meats with the fat trimmed off, bland vegetables, rice, oats, potatoes and the typical protein shake as the only method. Perhaps if we are lucky, you may be able to sprinkle some low-calorie fruit on those oats in the morning, but dread the thought of having anything that actually satisfies your taste buds. Well ladies and gentlemen, all that has been told to you is incorrect.
The law of thermodynamics that must have been passed around every diet and exercise manual since time began is over-used, however bares fact. In essence it’s calories are king and actually what constitutes these calories is not important. For example, we will view the average man who we will name ‘Bob’. (
Sorry to anyone called Bob for using you as an example).
We firstly calculate Bob’s basic metabolic rate, which for this example equals 2500 calories (this is the average volume of calories consumed for a man). If he eats purely pizza to make up these calories one day and then ‘clean foods’ the next, there will be MINIMAL difference. The key here is minimal, as a disclaimer this can differ if you are competing for a fitness show, but let’s face it, 99% of people who go to the gym are not looking to compete, they are looking for a way of attaining their goals, whether it be to lose weight or gain muscle and also still get to eat most of the foods they like.
I like this, you like this, we all like this. Perhaps from consuming pizza constantly ‘Bob’ would encounter some gastric distress or signs of bloating causing some water retention in the stomach and therefore some additional ‘water weight’. But here is the key, it is water and NOT fat. It is also key to remember here that pizza will not give all the essential vitamins required from the body that chicken, rice and broccoli would otherwise provide, but if you get some extra vegetables on your pizza……. Well you see the point I am trying to make.
So what would happen if Bob would eat 2300 calories instead of the 2500 he requires for his basic metabolic rate? Then by doing some simple mathematics we can see that he is consuming less calories than his body needs and will lose weight. (See previous article for the volume of calories to decrease in a diet). If these calories still came from the Pizza he would then be losing weight. What hold up lose weight? Yum Yum. Obviously consuming 2300 calories from pizza may not give the body all the vitamins and minerals it needs and may lead to hunger in other times of the day.
Therefore, this brings a slightly different method of diet/ lifestyle thinking. If Bob went shopping with a budget for the week with the amount of money he could spend, imagine if he went there with a budget for the number of calories he could consume. Then imagine what he could spend for both price and calories. This being able to find the low-calorie foods that ‘provide the most bang for ya buck’, being that they fill you up and satisfy you at the same time. Such things include berries, tangerines, apricots, watermelon, rice cakes, soups, white fish, sweet potatoes, potatoes, low fat popcorn and chocolates (and not necessarily pizza which is expensive on the calorie budget). In fact, though you can eat whatever you want, for example if its Valentine’s Day and you are going out with your significant other for a big meal,
(or are like me and are miserably single and just want to gorge on a meal by yourself) you could save up all your calorie budget for the day to use at that meal and claim you are taking part in the Intermittent Fasting trend (the process whereby meals can only be eaten within a few hours of the day). So overall do not worry about what you eat, worry about how much of it you do.
So, it does not matter how many times a day I eat? Well this is a long-debated topic in fitness. Technically there is a lack of scientific proof to show that increased meal frequency leads to an increased weight loss. I personally prefer to eat multiple meals but this comes down to personal preference (mostly). Nonetheless strength coaches etc will always argue to not skip breakfast. Indeed, it seems to go against common sense that if the body needed to absorb all nutrients from your calories from the day then it should’nt come from only one meal. Of course, it can be argued by the supporters of Intermittent Fasting that spiking your insulin levels constantly (the result from increased meal frequency) will diminish weight loss and in simple terms give less time for the body to use up its own energy supplies. So without wanting to get into 1000 words plus for this article, meal frequency is still a debated topic and if you are looking to simply lose weight, try not to get deterred from the concept of requiring to eat the chicken, rice and broccoli mix, no one really likes it, enjoy your food within your calorie budget. Go buy some cake!