FEATURE — Spring is in the air, warm weather is around the corner, and it’s time to create a personal health action plan! Renew the wellness resolution you made at the start of the new year, but remember that to reach your destination, you must make the journey. The secret is persistence, not perfection.
Success takes smart planning, dedication and the right information. The first step is to recognize that a change needs to be made. Keep it simple. Work to achieve overall better health rather than just weight loss. Healthy living is a choice, and it’s time to choose the right path.
Step 1: You must be in a calorie deficit mode
Calories in must be less than calories out. If you eat simple, clean, unprocessed foods and observe portion control, calorie counting is not needed.
Step 2: Prioritize protein
To maintain muscle mass when you are in a calorie deficit mode, you need at least 90 grams of protein a day, ideally a minimum of 30 grams per meal. This is the 30-30-30 rule.
To keep the bad fats in check, focus on lean protein sources like chicken, fish and egg whites. Protein is critical for weight loss, but more importantly, protein is needed to maintain and help build muscle mass and is necessary for cellular function and bone strength.
Step 3: Restrict carbohydrates
The protein-to-carb ratio must always be greater than 1. Never eat a carb without a protein. When you keep your carbohydrates in check, you control insulin. When insulin levels are up, it is impossible for fat burning to occur. When blood sugar and insulin are low because you haven’t provided your body with carbohydrates, fat burning (ketosis) occurs.
To keep carbohydrates in check, focus on high-fiber, nutrient-rich, low-calorie carbs like vegetables, legumes and berries. Minimize fruits, avoid starchy carbs and totally avoid any kind of processed sugars.
Step 4: No snacks
Allow your body to get into the fat burning zone. If you snack, you are fueling your body between meals, and you never force your body to use your own fat as fuel. This is the 6-6-12 rule and is the more moderate type of intermittent fasting, which is easier to do long-term. Some people with good metabolism can do the more extreme type of intermittent fasting, which is going 18 hours without food and having only a 6-hour period of eating.
Not snacking is critical for belly fat loss, but more importantly, keeping insulin levels down prevents diabetes and protects other organs in our body.
Step 5: Use good fats as fuel
You will use good fats as fuel if you have no carbs. The body will always use carbs as a source of fuel first, but without the carbs, it will utilize the good fats. If you’re using good fats as fuel, eat less in volume because fats provide twice as many calories compared to carbs. Using good fats can help with weight loss, but more importantly, the good fats are necessary for brain and cellular metabolism.
Step 6: Exercise three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes
Be active! Hike, bike, walk or play sports. Get off the couch. Get away from electronics, and turn off the TV. Exercise may keep you in that calorie deficit mode, but it also creates a healthy heart, healthy lungs, muscle mass, strength and endorphins for a clear and energetic mind.
Step 7: Drink water and eliminate carbonated beverages
Keeping your body hydrated helps your weight loss journey, but even more importantly, it creates a healthy environment for your long-term health. Carbonated beverages do not hydrate.
Step 8: Sleep
Sleep is critical for weight loss, but studies also show that good, adequate sleep leads to a longer life and improves the immune system.
Make up your mind, and spring into action. Make changes you can sustain long-term. Make this a journey that will take you to your ultimate destination: a healthy lifestyle!
Written by DR. COLEEN M. ANDRUSS, Healthy Lifestyles.
This article was first published in the March/April 2021 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.
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