Let’s open with a shocker – taste is impossible to replace. There, I said it. While Coca Cola company proudly advertises that Coke Zero tastes EXACTLY the same like original Coke… we all know it’s a lie. White lie, but lie non the less.
So, for the moment we need to come back to mindset as a building block. We again need to reiterate your decision to stop idolizing certain foods. Taste is acquired. You don’t need to slave to decisions of yesterday. The same way you’ve built up habit of enjoying bad things, you can build up habit of enjoying good things.
Diet plan core
Weight loss is all about calories you take in. Take for example professor of human nutrition who lost 27 pounds (~13 kgs) in 2 months on a Twinkie diet. Yeah, you read that right – someone lost lots of weight while eating junk and sweets. Even more surprising: his bad cholesterol dropped 20 percent, good cholesterol went up 20 percent.
That shows it’s all about defining a diet in which you can maintain caloric intake. The easiest way to reduce caloric intake is to take a look at high-calorie, high-risk foods. Then you can either take those out of your diet or replace them. Let’s take a look at a list of popular items that are bad for you
Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, 7up, Ginger Ale. Or any sugary drink. Apple juice may sound better than Coke, but it’s actually same amount of sugar. Orange juice in the morning has been breakfast favorite in many households. While antioxidants and vitamin C are great, the sugar in orange juice outweighs benefits.
- If you are consuming lots of soft drinks, losing weight should be easy for you. Just stop drinking these. Or, if you can’t completely stop, replace them. Here is how:
The biggest problem is for those who don’t want to give up taste. For this group of people I would recommend trying brand name replacements. So, if you are Coke drinker, try Diet or Coke Zero. If you are Pepsi drinker, try Diet Pepsi. Now, be warned – lots of these drinks have artificial sweeteners that are bad for you. So, 0 calories do come with some downsides.
- If you are willing to compromise on taste, then there are more options available for you. My personal favorite is Zevia, soft drinks that are sweetened with Stevia (natural sweetener). They have bunch of different tastes – Cola, Ginger Ale, Root Beer… you name it. Obviously you’ll need some time to get used to the taste. But once you do, you’ll be able to enjoy 0 calorie Cola with no downsides.
- You are able to completely give up taste. The best drink is pure water. It always was, always will be. If you can, drink just water and don’t think too much about other choices. Because almost all choices come with a twist. For example, sparkling or mineral water is OK choice, but you need to be aware of sodium content and pH levels. Or water flavorings that are flooding market right now. Infusing water with fruits is interesting choice, but requires prep time, cleaning pitcher, etc.
In the end, the more water you can drink – the better off you’ll be. But if you want to spice up your fluid intake, look through options I gave and find 0 calorie option you can enjoy.
As some other dishes, the problem with pizza is how it’s made. Prepare super thin crust pizza with tomato sauce, no-fat cheese and bunch of veggies… and you’ll have a healthy meal. But when we say pizza, we don’t mean that, right? Pizza means solid crust, lots of juicy meat and finally – high fat pull cheese money shot.
As with soft drinks, giving up pizza is the best choice. Especially because you can’t replace pizza the way you replace soft drink taste. Sure: you can go with thin crust, no-fat cheese or healthier toppings. But it’s nowhere near replacing Coke with Diet or Zevia Coke. It ends up being completely different meal. Meaning, if you enjoy eating certain pizza – just eat it less. Don’t eat it once a week, eat it once a month. Try finding another meal you’ll enjoy as much. And the most important thing: avoid temptation of idolizing what you decided to leave.
As with pizza, great burger’s taste is irreplaceable. But, unlike pizza with burger you are in somewhat better position. If you skip buns and don’t drown your burger in condiments, you can actually eat a burger every day. Take McDonalds Big Mac as an illustration: 563 calories, 33g of fat. But, take out buns, cheese and half of the sauce and suddenly you have manageable meal. One patty is 90 calories and 7g of fat, so at most you are now looking at 230-240 calories depending on amount of sauce. Easily something you can consume whenever you want.
Now, again, I know what I am suggesting is not same as original. But you need to find the way to ditch extras. Take out whatever you don’t need. In ideal diet you won’t be eating BigMac. But if you do eat it, for whatever reason – ditch unnecessary stuff.
Another historic meal. Considering wheat production, it’s understandable our ancestors had bread as cornerstone of diet. But today, there is not a single reason to eat bread with every meal. Especially if we are talking about white bread. Well made whole wheat breads can be good for you. But you don’t need that with every meal either. Sure, make a sandwich. Enjoy a slice of whole wheat bread for breakfast. But if you already have 700 calorie meal in front of you, the last thing you need is a slice of bread to clean plate with.
I’ve found that most people don’t even enjoy the taste of bread. They eat it out of habit. So, ditch the habit. Uncover your sandwich or toss away extra bread. And only consume true whole wheat bread. White bread is terrible.
Chocolates and sweets
New products in this category rock. As a kid I adored Snickers, Mars, Milky Way and other bars. Nowadays I don’t even think about them because of Pure Protein bars I consume daily. It because easy to stay in shape when your “desert” is 180 calories with 3g of sugar and 21g of protein. I love the choice Pure Protein offers with their bars considering they have like 8 flavors.
Now, I am not advising Pure Protein only. They may not be your preferred choice for many reasons (taste, artificial sweeteners, etc). What you should do is try different “healthy” bars and find your favorite. In general you are looking for something that has less than 10g of sugar. If it’s protein bar 180 calories is OK; for “regular” bars you should be aiming for 150 calories or less.
Be aware that there are no “free” calories. 150 calories for desert is still a lot. But at least you are getting some micro-nutrients in those 150 calories vs pure sugar in regular bars. Also, one warning about artificial sweeteners used in most of healthy bars. Sugar alcohol tastes great, but beware of laxative effect ;). Here is my personal favorite review of sugar-free gummy bears.
Ultimate replacement – work it out before eating
You can use this method to illustrate how bad certain foods are for you. It also works great in developing rejection of certain foods. I’ve loved mayonnaise until I’ve started trying to work it out before eating. 2 tbsp of mayonnaise (~27 grams) is 188 calories. That approximates to running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes. The problem quickly becomes obvious. Anyone can save 188 calories by not eating 2 tbsp of mayonnaise. But less than 10% of people in the world can actually run 1.5 miles (~2.4 km) in 15 minutes.
Don’t dig a hole for yourself by overeating and then saying – I’ll work it out. You probably won’t, because it’s impossible. Burning 150-200 calories during 30 minute workout is pretty good. If you are at that level, congrats to you. But if you are not, don’t beat yourself. You are not bad, lazy or incompetent. You are simply focusing on the wrong thing. For start focus diet and caloric intake.
In future parts of this guide I’ll present my own nutrition plan and talk more about workouts. Both are important for maintaining ideal weight or losing weight. But – to repeat yet again – mindset is the king. Focusing on your goals and process is what matters. Workouts and nutrition are just tools. Powerful tools, but tools nonetheless. Thus, before proceeding to next chapter in this guide, I invite you to re-read 1st part: Mindset. As I said in that part: Eating right is not about food. It’s all about mindset.