|Phase One - Limit Saturated Fat|
The problem with most weight loss programs is that they are too complex. There are confusing food combination formulas or calorie calculations that make your head spin. It is no wonder that Americans start diet program after diet program only to leave them behind in frustration. It occurred to me that if I was going to be successful at following a plan it would have to be simple and straight forward. In addition, if the plan was going to provide me with a long-term solution, it would have to allow me to eat foods that I enjoyed.
After conducting my research, I realized that I really only needed to change one main ingredient within my current diet... limit my saturated fat intake. Although there are fats in almost everything that we eat, saturated fat is the one specific type of fat that is the hardest for the human body to dispose of properly. The more that a person can reduce this deadly component from their daily diet, the healthier and thinner they will become. Ignore the total fat number on the foods that you consume. The only number that is important for my plan is the saturated fat number.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that the average person consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat daily. My plan limits the amount of saturated fat to less than 10 grams, not counting dinner. This requires that you check the food labels on everything that you eat so that you can keep an accurate count. Luckily, the FDA requires that all packaged food have nutritional fact labels placed on them where they can be easily located by consumers. In addition, the labels must basically follow the same format (see the example on the right).
In the beginning, you will find that identifying the amount of saturated fat you consume is easy, however, limiting it to under 10 grams takes some creative planning. Your first step is to visit the health food isle of your local grocery store or your neighborhood health food store. Look for snacks that contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per serving. I purchased every type of health snack that was under 1 gram of saturated fat that was available. I then did my own taste test. If I didn't like it, I threw it out after one bite (life is too short to eat foods you don't like). When I was done I discovered that I had over a dozen snacks that I actually enjoyed eating. This list has grown as I continue to identify snacks that are actually both good and healthy. Another valuable resource for low saturated fat snacks is in the isle where foods for diabetics are kept.
The key is to keep your snacks to no more than one gram of saturated fat. If you have a craving for something that has three grams of saturated fat, cut it into thirds and do not eat more than one third during each snack session. Better yet, identify a day each week when you are "off diet" and save the snack or particular "fatty" meal for that day. Remember, life is too short not to enjoy the foods you like. It is just important to enjoy them in moderation.
Stock up on the snacks that you have identified. Keep them at your office, in your briefcase or computer bag and in your kitchen. If they are not readily available, you will find something else to eat when you get hungry. If you find yourself without a healthy snack and you are hungry, look at the labels of the various snack options that are available. Pick the one that is lowest in saturated fat. Once you have developed the healthy habit of looking at the nutrition labels first, you will be amazed at your options. Just because you are going to skip your healthy snack doesn't mean you shouldn't make the best of the situation. A snack with 4 grams of saturated fat is much better than a snack with 10 grams. Also, remember that it is not necessary to eat the entire serving. Once you have satisfied your craving or hunger, toss the remainder.
As you limit your saturated fat intake, it is important to increase the amount of fiber and protein that you consume. As you exercise, your body will need more protein to develop body tone and build muscle. Fiber is also an important element, it not only helps to cleanse your system of the fat that you are dislodging from your body but it is also aids in the fight against certain cancers and heart disease. Remember, your body is a finely tuned piece of machinery, it is necessary to provide it with the right fuel mix.
I am often asked how much protein or fiber should be added for a healthy diet. The problem is that the more you have to keep up with the less simple the weight loss program becomes. The best advice I can give is to try to avoid the empty calorie foods, i.e. foods or snacks that have no fat but also have little or no protein or fiber. Once you start choosing foods that are low in saturated fat that also contain some protein and/or fiber, you will almost certainly be enjoying a healthier diet than you have in years. I would also recommend adding a multivitamin to your daily routine.
Eat Breakfast, lunch and dinner!!! Skipping meals will actually have an adverse effect on your weight loss progress. Keep healthy frozen dinners or dehydrated cups of soup at the office, if possible. With today's hectic lifestyles, it is very easy to accidentally miss a meal. If you realize that you have worked through lunch, correct the problem. It is better to eat a late lunch than not eat it at all. Also, I cannot overstress the importance of breakfast. This not only provides the nutrients that you need for energy but also kick starts your digestive system, which in turn attacks the fat you have stored in your system. Finally, if you are hungry, eat something. Our bodies are designed to inform us when we need to add food or water. However, we also have a habit of eating merely because it is there. Remove snacks and candies from your immediate view. You will be surprised how quickly you will start to notice results when you replace the jar of chocolate candies or sweets on your desk with a tall glass of water.