Today, I got an email from a woman who wants to know how much protein, carbs, and fat she should eat for optimal health and weight loss.
Since there's so much information about diet science and nutrition, it's easy to feel like we have to make our health one big math problem. Measure this, count that, weigh this, burn-that-so-I-can-afford-the-thing-I-want. Sound familiar?
You can use math and discipline to lose weight and get fit....but can you really override your habits, your preferences, and your tastes with this method?
Personally, I don't think so. I think this is really where the yoyo dieting pitfall is: when you create some kind of formula for yourself around diet science like proteins, carbs, and calories, forgetting that life does happen, cravings will come, and that your body and nature are constantly changing.
Weight loss + being comfortable with your body happens in two phases:
The first is that you come to a comfortable weight, know exactly what foods work for your body, and are able to have birthday cake without any feelings of guilt - just pure joy and living in the moment.
The second phase is becoming fit - rearranging the portions on your plate so that you can design a body you want, and add in exercise that will create that hot body you're looking for. And this phase is totally optional.
So here's what you want to do first before you measure your plate
So if you want to know what kind of ratio is best for your body when you're in phase 1, you should really focus on balancing out your constitution rather than balancing out your plate (I talk about this in The #1 Mistake Dieters Make for a Balanced Meal).
In other words, you need to be eating foods that help you detach from ravenous sugar cravings, help you sleep better, help you have a consistent stream of energy throughout the day (rather than highs and lows) before we can start talking about what the best way to organize a plate, is.
Then, you can do this instead of measuring protein, carbs, and fats
Once you've finished phase 1 and are happy with your body weight and your eating habits, you can start looking into protein/carb/fat ratios.
Personally, what I tell my clients who want to eat to feel satisfied, get a wide variety of nutrients, and also optimize their digestion, is to think of incorporating all 5 flavors into their plates.
So you want to have some savory food (which is usually protein like beans/animal products), some sweet foods (this could be sweet vegetables like pumpkin or a little sweet dessert), pungent spices, something sour (like cultured vegetables or lemon dressing), and something bitter like green veggies.
This combination is great because you don't leave the table craving something else, and each food tends to work really well together for digestion. And, you don't have to do any math on protein, carbs, and fats.
What has your experience been like with organizing your plate? Do you eat foods you don't even like just because you think they're healthy? Leave a comment!