Back to basics
It doesn’t matter how much you work out, if you eat like crap your body will look like crap. End of story. If you are not eating the right type of foods you will never lose weight and you are kidding yourself if you think you will obtain a toned or chiselled look.
I overhear people on a daily basis justifying eating one thing or another because they went to the gym. Combined with the fact that most of these people are doing half-assed workouts, the 200 calories or so they burned off during their session most certainly does not make up for the high calorie food bombs they later ingest.
The way your body looks is 80 per cent (if not more!) determined by food and 20 per cent by exercise. Whenever some part of my body is not looking right, I immediately know my diet is to blame – it’s not because I haven’t been going hard enough in my workouts. After making a few nutritional tweaks here and there, I am confident I will get back to normal before long. Adding in an extra cardio session or two may help, but only if it’s combined with a clean diet. Of course, I don’t expect to look muscular without regular lifting sessions, but diet is absolutely the most important factor.
Yet so many people are fixated upon getting to the gym, and upholding this ridiculous “I earnt my pizza” mentality. One person I know is fanatical about completing three gym sessions a week, yet all of her post-workout meals are far from ideal: fried fish and chips, creamy pastas, burgers, nachos (you can see my thoughts on nachos here).
Even when someone finally admits that their diet is the problem and modifies it to be “healthy”, it often actually isn’t. But the general population is largely not at fault – the big corporations are.
Our diets have evolved in the past 50 years or so but, sadly, not for the better. People have more diseases and allergies than ever before, not to mention the growing number of overweight bodies on earth. It seems clear that society has rapidly degenerated since processed foods were introduced.
Rather than improving the quality of food, industry developments have focused on improving the speed of food delivery while also maximising profitability. Large companies make money by manufacturing processed foods which have a low production cost yet a long shelf life.
Humans have only been consuming grains and dairy for less than 1 per cent of our existence. It is hardly a surprise that many people’s bodies have not adapted and so many people are gluten and lactose intolerant! The problem isn’t actually the dairy and grains themselves but the way cows are farmed and grains are produced, which strip away most of the real nutrients and add unnecessary sugar and chemicals.
So what constitutes a good diet?
There is nothing complicated about it. All you need to do is eat natural whole foods that come from plants and animals. If a food claims to be healthy, yet comes in a processed, packaged form, it almost definitely is not. Your food should not have an ingredients list. Stay away from “convenient” types of food, and get back to a traditional style of eating.
This includes lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, oils and nuts, and grains in moderation. Supplements can be used, but only if the base of your diet is healthy. Drinking protein shakes will provide no benefits if the rest of your diet is made up of burgers and fries.
To lose weight permanently, you don’t need fad diets or appetite suppressants. You need a lifestyle change. Stop looking at salads and lean proteins as “diet” food and remember that what I am eating is just food, and not a mish-mash of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. Healthy food can taste good, and you eventually come to dislike the taste of processed food. Nevertheless, you don’t have to be perfect all the time – cheat meals are acceptable on occasion.