I love food. And I know most of us do too.
And food is one of those things in life that we need, apart from water, air and perhaps shelter.
You may have heard the saying – Your success is made up of 30% exercise and 70% nutrition, and I’m a believer of that. Take two people, let’s call them Joe and Marty. Marty exercises a lot, goes to the gym every day but don’t really want to clean up his diet. Joe, on the other hand, does some bodyweight exercises four times a week, and tries to have as much whole foods as possible, saving sugar and other sweet treats to special occasions.
Who do you think will lose the most amount of weight considering the same amount of time?
I’ll tell you the answer at the end of this post, but today, I’m going to talk a little bit about eating for weight loss and let you in into my every day diet. Yes, I’m showing you a typical Aqilah’s food diary. You’re welcome.
No, I’m Not A Fitness Model Nor Am I An Expert
First things first, I have to say that I am not a fitness model. I do not have abs and even though I’m starting the 52-Day Fat Loss Challenge today along with several of you, I don’t wish to have abs, at least not for now. I still have treats, I don’t workout every day, but I do it on my own means, at my own decisions, and with enough accountability to do so.
And I’ve said this before but I will say it again, I am not an expert. Yes sure I have a human Physiology degree, a personal training and a sports and exercise nutrition certificate, but as a whole, I’m just Aqilah. The girl who has dreams to help as many people as possible move and eat better, one step at a time. In other words, I’m just like you.
You may see flaws.
You may think, ‘Wait a minute, I eat way better than that!’.
And you may also feel like there’s no need to take advice from someone like me.
But I’m merely just sharing, and I hope that this can really open up your mind to eating better, one day at a time.
70% Nutrition, 30% Diet BUT 100% Mindset
The great thing about wanting to lose weight is that you can really, really achieve it, if of course, you put your mind into it. Losing weight is a huge commitment to fitness and exercise and I believe everyone can do it, no matter how big your fitness goals. But before you do it, you really have to sit down and ask yourself why you’re committing to do this.
Until you can find a why behind the what, you won’t be satisfied with how much you’re progressing.
When I first decided to lose weight four years ago, I had one thing in mind — I was sick of falling sick and ill all the time. Until I knew why I was doing it, then did I truly get results. For most of it, what I put in my mouth was a big factor for my success, which is where the 30% of exercise and 70% of nutrition came in.
But while that 100% put together can get you one step closer to your ideal weight, losing weight is made up of 100% mindset. Get in the wrong frame of mind, get the wrong results.
Like every other thing worth having in life, assuming being in an ideal weight is worth having for you, it takes time, effort and focus to get there.
Like how quick money fixes does not work, quick weight loss schemes do not work either.
Instead of focusing on instant gratification or losing weight fast, think of fitness, exercise and the whole weight loss journey as a life journey — that is you’re in it for life. Not a 12 step program. Heck, not even the 5 habits of eating for weight loss, if you know what I mean.
If you can get your mind out of that ‘I want to lose weight fast, tell me what to do’ mindset, then you can expect mindblowing results that can help you not just for the time being but for the rest of your life.
Again, key point to take note here — find the why behind the what and focus your mind to it. Results will come..
Now that I have got that out of my chest, and hopefully you have figured out why you want to lose weight, here are the 5 habits of eating for weight loss. Applying these to your life one day at a time can bring you desired results. I know, because I’ve used it on myself and most importantly, it’s there to help you for life, not for the next 12 weeks or so.
1. Eat a high protein breakfast within 30-mins of waking up
You’ve probably heard about intermittent fasting. Or even skipping breakfast and only begin feeding yourself later in the day. But truthfully, if this is your first time trying to lose weight, eating as soon as you get out of bed, or at least within 30 mins of that, can help you in your weight loss goals.
While studies has shown that people who ate breakfast tend to weigh less than their non-breakfast eating counterparts, eating a protein rich breakfast can help you manage your hunger better, according to a study in Obesity Research.
And I think that’s a win.
You’ve probably heard this a million times over but eating breakfast can help rev up your metabolism turning you into one lean fat-burning machine throughout the day. If that sounds hard to comprehend, think of driving in a cold winter’s day. If you actually care for your car, you wouldn’t just start it and drive off right?
You would start the engine, let it stand for a couple of minutes and then drive off. That couple of mins allows your engine to perform better through the day, months and years, just like what eating breakfast does.
Skip breakfast and you’ll highly like eat more during the day, sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
If you’re looking at some awesome breakfast ideas, here are ones I actually have every single day. Feel free to steal it.
– 1 egg and 2 egg white omelette, with mushrooms and a piece of wholegrain bread. The protein from the eggs keeps you fuller for longer.
– 1 scoop of protein powder, blended with ice, almond milk and 1/2 a banana. This is my favourite go-to breakfast and I have it every single day. It takes 3 minutes to prepare and tastes amazing. It’s probably the reason why I get up every morning too. Score!
– 30g of oats, almond milk and fresh seasonal berries with a side of hard-boiled egg. Again, a great mix of carbohydrates and protein.
2. Eat slowly and stop at 80%
“OMG I’m late. Let me just stuff all this food in my mouth and get going!”
Eating quickly does not only look unpleasant, it doesn’t do well for your stomach walls either.
Another study in the Journal of American Dietetic Association has shown that eating slowly increases satiation at meal completion and reduce energy intake within meals. Take your time every time you eat and sit on a proper chair away from your work desk or area. You should take at least 15-20 minutes to eat and check in with your hunger every so often.
Most importantly, listen to your body. Are you still hungry? How do you feel eating that? Yes, literally ask yourself because asking yourself questions like these can help you be more aware of what you’re consuming, helping you move towards success.
The last thing you want to do is stuff your face with your sandwich because you’re rushing. Nope, not a nice sight.
3. Eat the majority of carbohydrates within two hours post exercise
Carbohydrates are great, and no they’re not bad at all. In fact, they’re our body’s preferred source of energy and we need them. Depriving them from your diet is the last thing you want to do as we’re not trying to eliminate any thing from what we’re eating. But if you want to lose fat, keep your natural, unprocessed, high quality carbohydrates to when you’re done with your workout up to two hours after it.
The reason why I say this is because your body tolerates carbohydrates best after a workout. It’s the best thing you can feed yourself after a gruelling session, so don’t skip it. And when choosing your carbohydrates, go for the unprocessed, natural ones that nourishes you. Here’s a list of carbohydrates you can consume post-workout:
– Wholegrain bread and pasta
– Fruits and vegetables. Yes, veggies are carbohydrates too.
– Potatoes of any kinds
– Brown or basmati rice
And no, a packet of Kettle chips is not great. Don’t make it an excuse.
4. Have a serving of lean protein at every meal
We have our carbs at breakfast and after our workout. Having lean protein can help us repair our muscles, increase our metabolism and most importantly control our hunger and appetite. Forget about counting how many grams of protein you should be eating. The easiest way to make sure you’re having enough protein for weight loss is to use your hand. Ladies, try to aim for one palm size of protein at every meal and men, two palm size is amazing.
Protein increases satiety, promotes muscular generation and repair and it is responsible for various building blocks of your life. Have that for breakfast, lunch and dinner and feel the difference in your hunger and appetite levels.
5. Eat every 3 hours
I remembered feeling super hungry ALL THE TIME when I was losing weight. And believe it or not, if there was one thing that helps me manage my weight all this years is this — eating small meals frequently.
Eating every 2-3 hours helps your body manage it’s metabolism and blood insulin levels to make sure it does not dip too low. Say for example you’re eating only 3 meals a day. Typically, this leaves at least about 5 hours between meal times and if you’re training hard and lifting weights, which you should be if you’re looking at losing weight, you will feel so hungry, you could probably eat a horse.
Keep your sanity (and metabolism) in place and try to sneak in some healthy, protein-rich snacks in between your meals. Your body will thank you later.
Here are some awesome snack ideas you can try:
– Baby carrots and hommus dip
– 1 scoop protein powder in unsweetened almond milk
– 1 cup of unsalted popcorn
– 1 apple or banana and 1tbsp of peanut butter
Take A Look At My Daily Diet
Here’s a fact: I don’t have a daily nutrition plan. I find having plans makes it too restrictive for me. Instead, I eat mindfully and listen to my body, and my hunger levels when it comes to eating. It makes things a whole lot easier, minus the calorie and macro counting.
Surprisingly, even though I do not have a nutrition plan, I tend to stick to eating the same things every day because I enjoy it and it makes me feel good. The reason why I’m sharing my daily food intake with you is because I believe it can help inspire you to make good food choices. Eating nutritious food is one thing, knowing yourself that the food is nutritious is another. I advice you to learn about the foods you eat because the knowledge can empower you.
In other words, the next time you eat, say a yogurt, instead of just eating it, ask yourself why is the yogurt good for you, look at it’s nutrition label and learn. It’s more satisfying that way.
This is what I normally eat every day:
Breakfast. As mentioned above, this is my typical Aqilah’s breakfast. I normally have this as soon as I wake up.
8oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein
1 tsp natural peanut butter
1/2 ripe banana
Ice and blend
Post-workout. Typically 3 hours after breakfast.
30g rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Handful of almonds
1tsp pure Canadian maple syrup
Lunch. Depending on what I’m doing that day, I will either have lunch first and then PM snack, or AM snack and then lunch. But lunch will normally consist of a serve of protein, veggies and carbohydrates.
1/2 cup brown rice
Palm size baked chicken (made from meal prep)
2 cups of veggies, usually carrots or green beans
1 whole egg and 3 egg whites
1/2 cup of low-fat cheese
1 cup baby spinach
A palm size of protein (usually fish or salmon)
2 cups of veggies, usually carrots or green beans
Handful of almonds
Done! Sometimes, when I get hungry before bed time, I normally have my protein shake with water. No, I do not like to sleep hungry and I doubt you do.
Feel free to steal my daily meal plan, you can even download a .pdf version of it here. As you can see, I don’t count calories because it’s troublesome. I just eat what I know makes me feel good and perform great in the gym.
Okay so now we know the 5 Habits of Eating for Weight Loss, I want you to get something out of it. This post is massive and it’s easy to just read and close it, or even delete it if you’re reading it from your email. And I don’t want that to happen for you.
Here’s what you can do: Pick one of the habits above and do it for 14 days. There’s 5 for you to choose, I just want you to choose one and do it over the next two weeks. Here are the 5 habits again:
1. Eat a high protein breakfast within 30-minutes of waking up.
2. Eat slowly and stop at 80% full.
3. Eat the majority of carbohydrates within two hours post exercise.
4. Have a serving of lean protein at every meal.
5. Eat every 3 hours.
Yes, of the five, choose one. Why just one? Because it takes time to nurture a habit and let go of old ones. Doing too many things at once can overwhelm your brain and body so just choose one and stick to it. Once the 14 days is over, choose another habit and do it for another 14 days. To make things easier for you, I even have a template you can print out and put in a visible place.
Going through change like this can help you progress faster instead of doing too much at once so give it a go. You have nothing to lose.
And once you’ve picked a habit, leave me a comment below and tell me which one are you starting with. I will give you my personal motivation.
Again, if you do have any questions, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will reply you for sure.
And back to the first question I asked about Joe and Marty, who do you think will lose the most weight? I’ll give you a fist bump if you said Joe. That’s how much nutrition is important for your progress.
Here’s to more days of epic fat loss and if you haven’t already, join me in the 52-Day Challenge happening right now. Have an amazing week ahead!