Last week, I tried to give an explanation for why diets fail and the ways in which a person should approach their eating. This week I’m going to discuss what I believe are the core principles of a good diet. These are easy to follow principles and are things to work on if you are looking to put together a good eating plan.
Principle 1- Daily Caloric Intake (DCI) vs. Daily Caloric Expenditure
This principle is pretty straight forward. The DCE represents the amount of calories your body burns on an average day. Click here for a DCE calculator. The DCI represents the amount of calories you take in on a given day. Click here for a calorie counter. In order to lose weight, a person must be at a Caloric defecit meaning that the DCE must be greater than the DCI or you must burn more calories than you take in. If a person wants to gain weight, then the DCI must be greater than the DCE. There are 3,500 calories in one pount of fat so for a person to lose one pound a week, he or she must on average take in 500 fewer calories than he or she burns every day.
Principle 2- Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s important because helps set up the structure for the rest of the day. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast actully consume fewer calories per day than those who don’t. The reason why is because skipping breakfast causes a person to feel significantly hungrier when it comes time for the first meal of the day. This hunger usually causes the person to over eat and to make bad decisions. In addition, skipping breakfast usually causes a person to feel tired, sluggish and rely on coffee and simple carbs to gain energy. Eating breakfast, sets up the day properly and when it comes time for the second meal, the person won’t be as hungry. This will cause the person to eat less later in the day and will help regulate the system to get used to eating frequent but small meals.
When beginning a healthy diet, it’s more important that a persn get used to a consistent breakfast than that they make perfect choices. Breakfast doesn’t need to be a huge meal but should be a good mix of protein and carbs. This provides the person with energy that will be needed to begin the day. Good options are oatmeal, certain cereals like total, fruits, egg whites & whole wheat toast and yogurt.
Principle 3- Drink lots of water
Water intake, along with maybe breakfast, is the most neglected part of many diets. It is recomended that we drink 8 glasses of water a day and that number actually increases if you participate in a fitness training program. Water is great for many reasons. First of all, it keeps us hydrated. The higher the hydratio lever, the thinner the blood and easier it is for the heart to work. Second, it helps your body get rid of waist and toxins, like a cleaning system for the body. Third is that the more you drink water, the less likely you will be to drink sodas, juice and other beverages with high sugar contents. This is very important. Most soda and juice have no nutritional value and simply serve as empty calories, a great way to cut calories is simply to cut those out and replace them with soda. If you drink 3-4 cans of soda a day, you can immediately cut 400+ calories daily.
Principle 4- Eat Smaller more Frequent Meals
You have probably heard this one before and it is really important. Eating frequently can play a huge role in a weight loss program. First of all, every time the digestive system begins work, you burn calories. So, whenever we eat, we are also burning some calories in order to digest the food. What this means is that if person A eats 2000 calories over 3 meals and person B eats 2000 calories over 6 meals, person B will burn more calories throughout the day because the digestive system was active 6 times vs. only 3 by person A. Secondly, The more frequent the meals, the less hungry we will be from meal to meal. This means that we will eat less at each meal instead of overeating due to hunger. Finally, frequent meals will help to keep our energy levels up and consistent instead of a roller coaster like many go through.
Principle 5- Day to Day Consistency
Consistency is the most important part of maintaining healthy eating habits, especially if you are beginning a new plan. Eating habits can be a challenge to fix and unless it’s ingraned in us, it’s very easy to fall off the wagon. Try to maintain consistent times to eat each day. Eat breakfast at 7:00 each day for example, rather than at random times. Also try to not leave more than 4 hours between meals or snacks. This will cause you to consistently think about eating but you’ll never be too hungry. When beginning a healthy eating plan, make sure to come up with something that works, is comfortable for you and stick to it. If you have a bad day or two, don’t beat yourself up just get back to the good habits. If you are consistent, then after a few months, you’ll find that you are sticking to these principles without even having to think about it and then you can make more specific changes to your new eating plan.