By Guillermo Ruiz
The topics of diet and weight loss are no longer exclusive to women. Men and women alike are trying out various ways of eating in hopes of gaining muscle, improving energy, and of course, shedding pounds.
Walking through the local supermarket, one is likely to see magazines, snacks and supplements promoting “Eat THIS to lose weight!” Superfoods, smoothies, seeds, teas, pills, just to name a few. These diets suggest that adding more (and buying more) is the secret to weight-loss success.
However, the question people should be asking is: “What should I avoid eating?” Eliminating problematic foods from one’s diet is a much better approach to attaining your healthiest body.
But where to start? The opinions about the optimal diet are plentiful and passionate.
Examining the areas where many diets agree is a great place to begin. The research is pretty clear that trans fats can clog arteries, and that sugar is not only inflammatory but addictive.
If you think about it, some diet styles are more similar than they’d like to admit. Paleo and Vegan may seem like polar opposites, but the difference between them is simply the source of protein. Both diets aim to help people overcome sickness with nutrient-dense foods in order to achieve a healthier and more productive lifestyle. They also both agree that what we eat and what we don’t eat are equally important.
So, what should a healthy weight-loss diet actually look like? First, eat real food. Whole foods like vegetables, fruit and basic cuts of meat or other protein contain everything your body needs to be optimally healthy – no supplements required. These foods are delicious, can be prepared numerous ways, and when eaten without sugar or other inflammation-causing “food” will decrease your desire for the indulgences you once thought you could not live without.
The ingredients on your plate should be simple, consisting of protein, vegetables and good fat. Learn to cook a few meals and develop a routine. These instructions seem easy, but implementing them can be difficult. It is possible to change your relationship with food, and it starts with a meticulous examination of the fuel you’re ingesting to discover the optimal diet for your body.
Adding supplements or shakes to a Standard American Diet (SAD for short; pun intended) is not the answer. Instead, determine what harmful foods can be omitted from your routine, and eat the delicious, nutrient-dense foods that are left.
It’s a challenge to find the right path through all of the diet noise. Ultimately, you should listen to your body and find an eating style that complements you. And most importantly, identify your problematic foods, eliminate them from your menu, and watch as your best self emerges.
Guillermo Ruiz is a third-year naturopathic medical student at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM). Learn more from Guillermo by listening to episode 317 of The Paleo Solution Podcast, or by participating in SCNM’s Paleo Challenge beginning June 7.
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