In Thursday’s post, I told you about the four main causes of a plateau. What’s keeping you at a standstill is almost always rooted in one of these four areas; food quality, food quantity, type of exercise, and mindset. Today we’ll dive into the first one.
To lose weight, you need to eat less calories than your body burns in a day. You can try to deny it, but the quality of those calories matters significantly. Eating 1500 calories of processed food won’t get the results that 1500 calories of whole, real, fresh, nutrient-dense food will. If half of your diet is clean, fresh food, and the other half of your diet is granola bars, tortilla chips and wine, this is plateau-causing.
To begin seeing results again, analyze where your calories are coming from. The calories you eat should come from high-quality protein, lots of vegetables, a little bit of fruit, healthy fats and oils, hummus, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts and whole, unprocessed grains like pearl barley, quinoa, farro, and bulgur.
There are many foods that are misleadingly healthy. Many of them interfere with your ability to burn fat. One of the main reasons is the amount of added refined sugars. If you are eating any of the following foods, STOP. It may well be contributing to your plateau:
Alcohol. Any amount. All kinds.
Store-bought granola bars, fiber bars, cereal bars, and protein bars (many of them). These are not health foods. They have as much sugar per weight as many dessert foods. Make your own at home. There are a lot of good no-bake recipes that you can refrigerate; however, you’ll still need to be aware of sugar content, even if it’s coming from honey or pure maple syrup.
Flavored oatmeal. A packet of apple cinnamon oatmeal has one tablespoon worth of sugar (twelve grams). One measly packet!
Crackers. Pretty much all kinds. It doesn’t matter if they are “made with whole grains.” The more messaging on the box, the greater that company is strategizing to sell that product to you. Crackers are not a health food. There are some better choices, though, like Ak-Mak crackers, which is higher in fiber and lower in ingredients than most crackers.
Cereal. Most cereal is better left on the shelf. Look for three or less ingredients, less than 2 grams of sugar per serving, 4 or more grams of fiber, and 3 or more grams of protein per serving. The first ingredient should be a whole grain like whole wheat or oats.
Salad dressing. The best salad dressing for you is made at home. All you need is extra-virgin olive oil, some kind of vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, fresh lemon juice and mustard. Many store-bought dressings have too much sugar and added preservatives. Leave “Lite” or “Fat-free” dressings on the shelf. They typically have more added sugar than regular dressings. They also omit the oil, which is not a good thing even though it sounds like it is. “Fat-free” is so 1992.
Store-bought fruit and/or vegetable and/or protein drinks. Again, check the sugar and check the fiber. There is probably wayyy too much sugar and not enough fiber. Like the salad dressings, you’re better off making them at home with a decent blender. Let’s look at a label for Bolthouse Farms’ Green Goddess juice drink. It’s claim to fame is “all natural ingredients, but it’s primarily fruit juice, which dramatically decreases the fiber. An apple has 5 grams of fiber and is less than half the price. In 8 ounces, there are 2 grams of fiber and 30 grams of sugar. The most common size container has two servings, so you would get 60 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber if you drank the whole thing. You can do way better than this.
Flavored yogurt. Vanilla, honey, strawberry, pineapple, pomegranate, raspberry, etc. All of them have too much added sugar! And if they don’t, they’re adding artificial sweeteners to make up for it, as they do with “lite” yogurts. I recently heard that one popular yogurt company decreased their sugar content from 19 to 12 grams of added sugar. That is still too much. There is only one “best” way to eat yogurt. Buy plain and add your own fruit. Don’t buy “lite” yogurt either. A little bit of fat serves a purpose. It satiates you so that you don’t feel hungry again 45 minutes later. Eating refined added sugar is a primary reason our body holds onto fat.
There are many other categories of food that are not serving your goal of shedding fat. Remember, even if you create a caloric deficit, you need to eat the right foods. Eliminate foods that contain added sugars, artificial ingredients, and are super low in fiber. Fill up on the real, whole, fresh foods I mentioned above. Stay away from alcohol if you’re at a plateau too. Perhaps you used to be able to get results and have a glass of wine most nights. However, as you’re getting leaner, you’ll have to sacrifice a few glasses here and there if you are going to see results.
What foods can you swap out?
What foods can you swap in?