(This post is late, I know, but the State of the Union happened, and then friends called me from the bar, and then we hung out at some dude’s apartment after driving aimlessly for a bit, and then I talked with my roommates for a couple hours once I got home. But I worked hard to get this to you as soon as I could, a.k.a doing this instead of the work my employer is paying me to do. Don’t tell them that I’m doing that, btw.)
All right, we’re almost done with the basics of what you need to know about food in order to start losing weight. Or, to put it more correctly, we’re reaching the end of what I know about food when it comes to weight-loss. And in retrospect, I don’t know as much as I thought I did. I should take this time to mayhap cover my ass and state that I am in no way a professional (I’m not even an amateur, which implies a sort of desire to be professional; I am an anti-professional), and that before you begin any sort or drastic change in your diet, exercise routine and standard of living you should probably consult with your doctor/nutritionist/someone who at least attended a class of pre-med. I’d hate to think of someone going out and just rushing into a weight-loss plan that I suggested, only to end up hurting themselves in the process.
But it’s most likely that no one has done that, right? I mean honestly, how many people take me that seriously –
Oh. Oh my. Ahem. Moving on . . .
This is the main reason that I haven’t detailed out an exact meal plan for you. I’ve stated before that everybody has to discover what works best for them, but that isn’t just about personal preferences. There are food allergies, food intolerances, and specific dietary needs of those with various other diseases and conditions. I love almonds, they are one of the glorious superfoods that has helped me lose a lot of weight, but one of my best friends is deathly allergic to them. He can eat his weight twice over in peanuts, but one almond and he dies . . . or so he says. How can you go 25 years on this earth and never have an almond? A strange and dangerously irrational part of my mind wonders if someone just lied to him at some point in his childhood to see how gullible children are. I’ve imagined crushing up an almond and slipping it into his cereal to see if anything really happens –
Sometimes it's just not worth being my friend.
That means what was great for me won’t work for him because he’ll die. And just past the food allergies we have the food intolerances, things as the lactose (milk) intolerant or the gluten (wheat) intolerant. These poor bastards don’t have the enzymes in their bodies to be able to break down and absorb the proteins in things like dairy and wheat. A cup of yogurt or a slice of toast won’t kill these unfortunate sonsabitches, just make them extremely sick. If you can’t sit down and have a cookie and ice cream every now and then without getting gassy and/or bloated with a bad stomach ache, then . . . well shit. That just makes me sad.
Then there are people who have diseases or other conditions that dictate their eating habits. I know a few people with diabetes so severe they have to not only watch their sugar intake but be acutely aware of every single carbohydrate they consume. With conditions like ulcers or stomach cysts, anything with even the slightest of acids (including strawberries and tomatoes) can set off huge bouts of pain. I have stayed away with giving advice on detailed meal plans because there are more people with these conditions than you would think, and if you try to create a diet regime that your body is going to reject/have an aggressive reaction to you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to create a plan that does challenge you, but not at the expense of your overall health. That is the bad way to lose weight.
But because I am a pain in the ass and must always take a contrary position even if it’s against myself, having said that I am going to highly recommend that you include one particular meal in your diet at least once a day. It was a huge stepping stone for me, and without it I would not have been able to overcome the last 30 or so pounds that I lost. It has been a major part of most successful weight-loss programs I have encountered, and it’s easy as all hell to make for yourself.
Smoothies and Shakes
After waking up in the morning, the first thing I reach for (after drinking a jug of water, doing fifty push-ups and browsing the internet for twenty minutes) if a protein shake. A mixture or fruit, protein powder and milk is all I need to perk me up and get me ready for the day. Now some of you may be asking, “What is the difference between shakes and smoothies?” Well it’s a big difference, and it mostly has to do with dairy.
Now now, just keep your mouth shut if you happen to hate the subtle distinctions in life. It may be the difference of one ingredient, but that one ingredient can make all the difference.
Smoothies are liquid meals that are comprised mostly of fruit and juice (which is just refined fruit) that are thick, viscous, chunky and extremely flavorful drinks. Packed full of all the vitamins, antioxidants and a plethora of other beneficial qualities that come with fruit, smoothies can help your body obtain dire nutrients it may be missing out on if your diet regime is very restrictive. Shakes (or protein shakes if you want to refer to them by their scientific name) are drinks that are highly dairy based, contain a good portion of some kind of protein powder (creatin, soy, whey, etc.) and help the body replenish its cache of more basic nutrients such as protein (do you see the reasoning behind the name protein shakes) and carbohydrates.
Now smoothies may contain dairy, such as yogurt, and the best shakes will contain lots of fruit. But the biggest difference between these two categories goes further than ingredients; the difference has to do with intention. Smoothies are more about vitamins and rejuvenation and shakes are more about the body’s basic building blocks and repairing.
Making a smoothie is insanely simple. Take fruit, put it in a blender, and press frappe until any semblance of a solid is gone. Any fruit will do, but citrus, apples and apple like fruits don’t really play all to well in the mix because of their texture and acidity. But berries, bananas, mangoes, pineapples (which is a citrus, I know, but then . . . then . . . SHUT UP) and pretty much every other fruit out there will blend nicely. To make it easier to drink (because simply blending fruit will leave you with a paste that is thicker that wet cement) you can add things like juice, soy milk and plain old regular milk, but if you don’t mind chewing your smoothie then this isn’t a problem.
"This smoothie is great. It's almost like I'm actually chewing all of that fruit myself!"
Making a shake is simpler (protein + milk + shake = food), if not a wee bit more pricey as you will have to buy some sort of protein powder to create it. There are a ton of different protein powders out there, and some of them are just powder kegs of (powder keg, protein powder, get it? get it?) of high calories designed for athletes. In general, look for simple whey powder that doesn’t have a whole lot of special flavors added to it, opting for the bland stuff. It won’t come with a lot of sugar and other additives that you probably don’t need if your not training to be able to pull a herd of sleeping elephants up Mount Everest. It also won’t come with a whole lot of flavor this way, so adding things like some berries or cocoa powder is a good idea.
And it will make you feel like a scietist in a lab while you measure everything out.
To either of these options can be added a never-ending array of goodies to help improve the flavor and the impact of the drink. Want a little bit more protein? Add some peanut butter. Want a fresh tang? Add some yogurt. A little drop of vanilla extract and honey will add some sweetness to party without sending your sugar intake too high. You can even add things you never thought you would want in drink form, such as green and leafy vegetables. It may sound a little disgusting (because it is) but when blended with a banana, strawberries and soy milk, you won’t much notice that cup of broccoli and spinach you tossed in there.
But if all the ingredients are more or less interchangeable, why is there a distinction between the two? Can’t you make one super glorious smoothieshake instead of choosing one or the other? Why are you hounding me about making a decision?! LEAVE ME ALONE!
See? This is what happens when you question my authority - MADNESS
The reason for the distinction is, as I said before, about intent. For the most part, if your aim is to lose weight you should be drinking more smoothies. They are low calorie meal that will fill you up, keep you full, and provide a daily dose of fruits. Shakes are geared more towards being pre and post workout meals, providing your body with protein, carbohydrates and, yes, calories, that you have burned off during rigorous exercise. Shakes are designed to have more calories in them for this exact purpose, so to drink them as a daily meal if you’re not working out hard is counter productive as you will be filling your body with extra calories and not reaping the benefits from them.
For myself, I tend to drink more shakes than smoothies, although fruit still plays a big part in my concoctions.
– Cup of strawberries
– ½ of vegetables
– Protein Powder (Whey, Non-Flavored)
– Oatmeal (Ground into a Powder because I can’t understand things that aren’t in powder form)
– 1 ½ Cups of Non-Fat Milk
– Tbsp of Low Fat Peanut Butter
– ½ Tbsp of Cocoa Powder (Non-Sweetened)
It is a perfect way to start the day, filling you with all sorts of good stuff that will wake you up faster than that lousy cup of coffee your coworkers make, will help battle your morning hunger pangs to keep help keep you away from those delicious looking donuts sitting next to that crappy coffee, and it tastes great. I have no joke to add on to that last part. They just taste great, and that should be enough.
Will you have to buy a blender (or one of those magic bullet type of things) to make these? Well, yes, but I never said the road to weight-loss was free. But it is money well invested, and you’ll still spend less than if you went to a Robeks or Jamba Juice and got your smoothies everyday from them.
As I said before, smoothies/shakes helped me lose a good portion of my weight, and even when I am not focusing on weight-loss it is still a big part of my daily diet. They just work. And once you start drinking them, the sound of a blender in the morning will be like music to your ears. Loud, crunching, whirring, mechanical chopping music.