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There are only two things that you can control that matter when it comes to food and drink and how much you weigh: 1) how much you eat and drink, and 2) what, exactly, you put into your body.

Just two things, but they can get complicated fast, especially when you're trying to lose weight. Some things, like downsizing from an extra-large pizza to a medium, are obvious. But a lot of other changes and choices aren't so clear. And since we don't want to subtract, but rather add good stuff to your life, we want to answer the question, What can you eat and drink and still lose weight?

First, let's tackle the "how much?" side of things. This is another way to say "portion size," also known as "how much are you heaping onto your plate or into your bowl/cup/glass?" The reason we care about the amount of food you're eating is that you need to keep an eye on how many calories you're eating and how much fat, sugar, and salt (the bad stuff) and vitamins and minerals (the good stuff) you're getting.

Almost no one likes to count calories or measure out portions of food. If you hate doing that almost as much as you hate exercise, consider this simpler approach:  Just eat whole foods as much as you can.

If you've ever heard the expression "whole foods" and thought it was just an overpriced grocery store, here's what it really means, in a general sense: Whole foods are foods that are either not processed at all (so as close to how they naturally grew or were grown/raised as possible) or that have very little processing (meaning nobody added lots of flavoring, salt, sugar, fat, colors, preservatives, and chemicals or did something to the food, such as cooking, frying, etc.).  So "whole" means as close to natural as you can get, with as few added ingredients as possible and as little processing as possible.

Whole foods are by definition healthier. So when you eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein (meat, fish), nuts, seeds, dairy products, eggs, and breads and grains, a lot of the time you don't need to track calories, fat, salt, sugar, and the like. It doesn't mean it's a license to eat as much of these as you want (only fresh fruits and vegetables fall into the "all-you-can-eat" category) if you want to lose weight. But it's a good start to getting back to a healthier way of eating that will make you feel better and give you plenty of energy for exercise.

What's also nice about the "eat whole foods as much as you can" approach is that it makes it easier to control how much you eat and it by definition means what you put into your body is better for you.

The simplest way to think of whole foods is just to get used picturing this list when you go grocery shopping (or just type into the Notes section of your phone so it's always with you):

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grain breads, crackers, pasta & rice
  • Lean meats (turkey, chicken, beef)
  • Fish & shellfish
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Lean dairy (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, ice cream)
  • Eggs
  • Tea & coffee

The six articles in the Weight Loss section are designed to give you some of the most important, useful, scientifically sound, and safe information. We don't try to cover everything about weight loss (or anything else) on ih8exercise.com, but if you follow the advice in these six articles you'll have a great foundation for lasting weight loss.


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The 99-Cent Store Guide to Eating Right

 

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Photo by John-Morgan/Flickr