Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No, Low, Go Diet

Why do what I do?  Good question.

Besides a passion for cooking, eating, and drinking, my writing on food serves two main purposes.  One, to teach individuals that cooking great meals at home is simple, realistic, and affordable.  Two, to help people enjoy a healthy and balanced lifestyle by promoting the benefits of eating REAL food.

At the risk of sounding political or getting on my soapbox, I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.  After all, who am I to say what’s right and what’s wrong. 

We are fighting a major problem in America.  Obesity is killing Americans, while also draining our tax dollars.  Within the next two decades, it is estimated that 86 % of Americans will be overweight or obese – at a taxpayer cost of $956 Billion.

Two words:  Serious Problem.

Fortunately, there’s quite a bit of good things going on to bring about change.  Cheers to Chef Jamie Oliver and the success of his Food Revolution program which airs in its second season this week.  It’s about time a show about doing good things made it on the air, won an Emmy, and is up for a second season.  Forget the Housewives or the Kardashians . . .

I’m not a dietician, medical doctor, licensed trainer, or even a chef.  However, I do know what works when it comes to losing weight – for me and others.  After playing sports throughout my entire life, I always enjoyed a high level of physical fitness.  That was of course, until college.  I blame it on the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Pizza diet.  Four years of abuse put me about 40 – 50 lbs overweight.  I couldn’t believe that I’d let myself get to such a point.

By reincorporating exercise and healthy eating into my lifestyle, I was able to get back into fighting weight in less than a year . . .  eventually getting to the point where I now enjoy competing as a marathon runner.

Friends of mine have seen my success, and they have often asked – “how did you do it”?  It’s not rocket science.  It all boils down to exercising and eating the right kinds of foods –in moderation.

I began sketching the following ideas out in a book proposal last year.  Several friends asked for the information, and they have been successful in dropping 30, 40, 50 lbs to reach their target weight.  Perhaps this ‘sketch’ is much simpler to follow than a 300 page book – I don’t know.  However, I do know that it works.

In today’s age of free information – I wanted to share this initial outline to help do my part in bringing about change.  Please add your own comments, success stories, criticisms, etc.  Whatever makes this better can make us all better.

Create change.  Be uncommon.  Become your best! 

MM

The NO, LOW, GO Diet

Don’t starve your body – eat the right kinds of foods to keep your metabolism constantly working in your favor.  Don’t consume more than you burn.  It’s okay to indulge every so often – so long as you bust your ass via exercise to make up for it.  Your success is determined by YOU.

NO
Fast Food
Soft Drinks
Processed Foods
Fried Foods
Energy Drinks
White Starches (Breads, Potatoes, Pasta, Rice, etc)
Cream Based Soups (Chowders, Bisques, etc)
Mayonnaise
Mayo or Cream based Salad Dressings (Ranch, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese)

LOW
Alcohol (Wine, Beer, Liquor)
Carbs (must come from whole grains)
Salad Dressing (Oil, Vinegar, Italian, Low Fat Dressings) on the side
Whole Grains (Pasta, Rice, Breads)
Sweet Potatoes
Oatmeal (Stick to Protein based raw forms)
Kosher Salt
Fruit Juices
Yogurt, Low Fat or Greek
Sport Drinks (Gatorade, Vitamin Waters, etc)  Check Sugar/Carb Content.
Unsalted Butter
Sour Cream
Frozen Health Foods (Lean Cusines)
Appetizers at restaurants (start with a salad instead)
Desserts (Chocolate, Cakes) … stick to fruits, yogurts, and cheeses

GO
Water (At least 8 glasses per day)
Lean Protein (Chicken, Turkey Breasts, Pork, Seafood, Lean Red Meat)
Vegetables
Fruits (esp, Black/Blue/Cran/Strawberries)
Beans (Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans)
Hummus
Almonds
Salads
Vegetable or Low Fat Broth based Soups
Eggs
Olive Oil

BREAKFAST is the most important meal of the day.  It gives your body the chance to start your metabolism (fat burning furnace) first thing in the morning.  The problem is most people skip breakfast thinking they’ve reduced their overall caloric intake for the day.  What happens?  Your metabolism doesn’t start.  You overeat at lunch or from snacking because you feel entitled.  Instead – EAT BREAKFAST.  I’m not talking about cereals, bagels, or pastries.  The worst thing you can do is start your day off with sugar and carbs.  This spikes your blood sugar, which shuts down your metabolism, only to cause a mid-morning crash which will likely lead to overeating later in the day.  Eggs are our best friend in the morning.  Full of protein, and virtually without carbs, we want to focus our efforts on eating eggs as much as possible for breakfast.  Forget the cholesterol scares of the 1980’s… eating the whole egg – not just the whites, has actually been shown to improve ‘good’ cholesterol levels.  1 – 3 eggs each morning, is a simple and easy breakfast.  Vary your preparation method – scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled, or even as a simple omelet with diced veggies and low fat cheese so that you don’t get stuck in a routine.  If you can’t cook, or don’t think you have time – invest in a microwaveable egg poacher.  It turns out a decent poached egg in under a minute – without any added fat. 

SNACKS are a good thing, so long as you make the right choices.  Again, think about reducing your carbs to keep your metabolism burning.  As you start to get hungry a few hours after breakfast, add another log to the fire by choosing snacks that are full of protein and low in carbs as described below.  Power through the afternoon with a second snack to provide energy before an evening workout.

LUNCH can be difficult because you are often forced to eat out.  The chef at your favorite restaurant has one thing in mind – taste.  He’s not interested in your health, diet, or well-being.  Salt, saturated fats, oils, cream, butter, etc are all used in order to make ‘bland’ food taste incredible.  I’ve laid out some options at some of your favorite restaurants to make your choices easier.  Keep in mind our basic philosophy whenever ordering.  Think lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean red meats) that are prepared without extra fat (grilled, roasted, baked) along with vegetables (steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted) and whole grains (brown rice/pasta).  Most restaurants do not offer whole grain choices – in these instances, sub out the baked potato, fries, rice, pasta, etc for a double serving of vegetables or a side salad.  Speaking of salads – this should be your go to lunch option.  Think greens with plenty of vegetables and some sort of lean protein to keep you full.  Dressings should always be served on the side.  No white dressings (Ranch, Blue Cheese, etc).  Choose oil and vinegar, reduced fat dressings, or simply lemon juice and olive oil.

DINNER should be eaten as early as possible.  You want to allow your body time to digest and process your food.  This will not only aid in sleep and digestion, but it will also ensure that you wake up hungry to eat breakfast.  You will encounter the same problems at dinner as with lunch, as this tends to be a ‘social’ meal.  Follow the same guidelines when dining out, remembering that your choices will dictate your damage.  Keep alcohol to a minimum.  I endorse a glass of red wine at every dinner.  If you try to go too extreme, like cutting out all alcohol, sugar, etc – you will most likely fail.  Keep it in moderation.  1 – 2 glasses of red wine at dinner or in the evening is perfectly acceptable.

DESSERT should be in moderation.  Remember that you are trying to keep your sugar/carb intake at a minimum.  Go for non-fat yogurt dressed up with sliced fruits, or even grilled fruits when the craving for something sweet arrives.  Of course, if you can’t resist the temptation, eat slowly, savor the food, and eat less.

BREAKFAST
Option 1 (Eat Most Often)
3 Eggs (Scrambled, Fried, Hard Boiled, Veggie Omelets)
Option 2
Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (Higher in protein)
Granola (Bear Naked Peak Protien)
Fruit (Apples, Mixed Berries – Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, etc)
Option 3
Hummus
Fruits and Vegetables

Morning/Afternoon SNACK OPTIONS (Pick One or Two) 
Palm full of Almonds
2 Hard Boiled Eggs
Low Fat Cheese (String Cheese), Mozzarella, Cottage Cheese
Apple
Protein Bar (Check Sugar/Carb Content)
Bear Naked Peak Protein Granola (Handful)
Hummus (2-3 oz) and Veggies
Can of Tuna (dress up w/ lemon juice, salt, pepper)
5-6 Whole Grain Triscuits and low-fat cheese slices

LUNCH

Salads with a lean protein (Dressings on Side)
Grilled/Roasted Proteins with Vegetables
Low Fat/Low Carb Broth based Soups (Vegetable Soup, Chicken Noodle w/ whole grain pasta, etc)

DINNER
Grilled, roasted, pan seared lean proteins (olive oil)
Beans/Legumes
Vegetables (steamed, roasted, pan sautéed)
Fist sized portion of Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, or Whole Grain Pasta
1 Glass of RED wine

NO EATING PAST 9:00 p.m.

1 comment:

themexcellentcook said...

This plan sounds easy enough to follow but I have a question...where does milk fall into this scheme? Is it a Low, or a Go?

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