Tell me I’m crazy but every time the topic of diet or weight loss comes up the discussion always turns to carbohydrates. (Ok, I’m exaggerating. But really, it happens a lot.) Weight loss conversation seems to center around carbs: low carb, no carb, or carb cycling. We are addicted to carbs, craving carbs or crashing from lack of carbs.
Newsflash: Carbs aren’t the only player on the team!
Instead of focusing on this one macronutrient that gets so much attention, my suggestion is this: create a shift in your thinking by defining your meals by the protein selection. When you change your thoughts and words, you change your reality.
Let me explain.
Making Protein the Reference Point
When it comes to eating for weight loss we are pretty good at reciting our carbohydrate food choices. When asked “What did you have for lunch?” we’ll reply, “I had a salad,” “I had a bagel,” “Aghhh, I cheated! I had pizza.” Yep, all carbs.
A Protein Challenge
My challenge to you is this: tell me about your protein. Protein is the lost macro-nutrient and not because it’s more/less important than the other nutrients. It’s “lost” because we fail to mention it; we define our nutrition by the carbs we eat. When we think weight loss we think diet. When we think diet we think salad, raw veggies and fruit. Where’s the meat? Weight loss is achieved through balanced, clean eating. When planning your meals, choose the protein, compliment with a starch carb and finally, load up with vegetables. Before adding fat to your meal, consider how much is already available in your protein source and then proceed accordingly. Remember to start the conversation with protein.
Let’s try it again.
Question: What did you have for lunch?
Steak, sweet potato and asparagus.
Chicken, rice, spinach salad.
Egg salad in a pita with tomato and cucumber.
Beef Burrito and Bean Salad.
Crab Cake and vegetable stir fry.
Good Basic Protein Choices:
- Tuna (fresh, in pouch, or canned in water)
- Skinless chicken breast
- Skinless turkey (ground or breast)
- Lean ground beef
- Lean cuts of steak
- Eggs/egg whites
- Low-fat cheese
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low-fat, low-sugar yogurt
- Fish (Salmon, Catfish, Orange Roughy, Cod, Sardines)
- Protein shakes/powders/drinks
- Protein bars (emergencies only, ok?)
Understanding is key to success for any undertaking. It’s a big deal that you understand the importance of “balanced nutrition.” Protein. Carb. Fat. Start thinking about your meals in a way that supports your goal, speak about your nutrition with confidence and prepare meals by components first. What is the protein? What is the carb? What is the fat? Like any new skill this will become second nature quickly. Good health can be learned and getting fit over 40 is possible.
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