It almost sounds too good to be true, but the possibility of chowing down on your favorite meal while keeping unwanted pounds off your physique is real. Robert Ferguson, CEO of Diet Free Life, a lifestyle-friendly program that shows people how to eat real food, lose weight and live a diet-free life, believes portion control, along with the correct balance of meals, is the solution. “People confuse diet with deprivation, which isn’t so,” says Ferguson, author of Fat That Doesn’t Come Back, Conquering the Munchie Monster and Diet-Free for Life. “Psychologically, it becomes empowering when you tell someone [he or she has] options, and [weight maintenance] is no longer based on deprivation or restrictions. It’s now more focused on choices. There’s a freedom in that.”
1. Ferguson explains that learning the breakdown of foods based on carbohydrates (carbs), both fast and slow, and proteins is the first step:
Breads, sugar, fruit, pasta, potatoes They can keep your blood sugar elevated, which causes weight gain and risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Vegetables, nuts, beans, peas and whole grains Essentially, these are any foods high in fiber, which can assist with weight loss.
Chicken, fish, beef, eggs These are most often meats or anything with a face or that has parents.
2. Next comes an understanding of how basic food combinations must be utilized to keep your body in fat-burning mode. Each time you have a meal, consider one of the following:
One protein, one fast carb and one slow carb (a 1:1:1 ratio)
One protein and three slow carbs (a 1:3 ratio)
3. Ferguson says the glycemic index (GI) looks at how quickly carbs in food lead to an elevation of one’s blood sugar. Fast carbs have a high GI, while slow carbs have a lower GI index. “Carbs have a principle relationship with the hormone insulin. The more carbs a person eats, the more insulin is secreted,” he explains. “The more insulin secreted, the more likely you’re in fat-storage mode. Controlling insulin, the master hormone, will help someone with diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol concerns. Once you’ve gotten control of it, you’ll improve every other area of the body.” Below are other things Ferguson suggests you consider to lose weight when eating the foods you love.
Measure food portions.
• Protein: Meat should be no thicker than the hand with the circumference of the palm. If it’s leaner, it can be the same thickness, with a circumference from the bottom of the palm to the top of the first knuckle.
• Fast and slow carbs: These should be fist-sized. For a woman, this is about a cup. For a guy, it’s a cup and a quarter. For desserts, look at your palm and go from one corner to the opposite corner for serving size. With the height, it can be as tall as you can make it.
Protein is premier.
• Make protein a priority. “Always sit near the protein because if you sit near the carbs, you’ll put that on your plate first and have little room for protein,” explains Ferguson. “That’ll be too many carbs. That’s when people feel tired after a meal. Fast carbs trigger insulin, a fat-storing hormone.”
Focus on intake first; fitness will follow. “Fitness will come when you feel better, so focus on food. You’re going to lose some weight,” Ferguson says.
Snack and eat responsibly so your body won’t go into starvation mode.
• You should have three main meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with snacks in between. “It’s like you’re a baby,” he says. “You need to eat every two to three hours. If you wake at 6 a.m., you should be eating at 7 a.m. or exercising. Every two to three hours, until one to three hours before bed, eat a snack.”
• While snacking, look at calorie range and don’t focus on carbs. For women, snacks should be 100 to 200 calories; for men, 100 to 300.
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Senior Editor, EBONY Magazine