What do you normally reach for when you're craving late at night? Think about it. Maybe you dial the 24-hour delivery service for some chicken fingers and fries, right? (Don't forget the vanilla sundae) Or what do you think of munching on when you're working overtime at the office? It's likely that it isn't something that's healthy. Are we right?
When our bodies are inactive and sedentary, they crave foods that will give us a hormonal high, but will leave us feeling depleted sooner than we'd like. Unlike fitness enthusiasts who have little stored body fat and better reserves of lean muscle, when we are unfit, our bodies will absorb and store foods very differently.
So what do we eat if we're not getting the exercise that we need, or we just aren't that active?
(Well, first of all, we do suggest you do exercise daily, even just a bit!) Rather than tell you just what foods you can eat, we'd also like to give some tips on how to eat if you don't have a super active lifestyle.
1. Stop eating fruits. Unless you are actively exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, you should be avoiding fruits altogether. Did you know that eating a banana or an apple can add between 17 to 20 grams of sugar to your caloric intake? No thanks to fructose, which is the main sugar in fruits. If you're not burning off those calories through an active lifestyle, then eating fruit could cause your sugar levels to shoot up, which lead to diseases like diabetes. Lesson: If you wanna eat fruits, then get exercising!
2. So long, sushi. OK, it may seem like a healthier alternative to fast food, burgers and fried chicken, but it's actually no better. In fact when you have a helping of sushi, you're actually loading up your body with heavy amounts of sodium and high glycemic carbohydrates — all of which will end up as fatty reserves in your common flabby areas. So unless you do some sort of high impact interval training, you're better off ordering a boneless, skinless chicken teppanyaki (sans teriyaki sauce).
3. Goodbye, granola! Commonly touted as a health food, granola is actually a Trojan horse filled with loads of sugar, syrups and dried fruit. If you must eat it, then look for brands that are untoasted, unsweetened, and contain less than 3 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving.
4. Eat foods that make your gut work harder. Whole foods are foods that are in their most complete, natural state, such as lean meats, vegetables and fiber-rich foods. This is because your body has to work harder to break them down, therefore burning more calories as you digest them. Processed foods are easily absorbed when we eat them, but they provide little to no nutrition and end up in the fatty reserves of our bodies.
5. Use this simple guide to help you make wiser, leaner choices. If you're not planning to get active anytime soon (although you should, for your own good), then practice eating foods that aren't going to pack on the pounds. So that it's easy for you, we've made up a list. Just tack this to your fridge the next time you shop for groceries!
- Lean meats: boneless, skinless chicken is best.
- Vegetables: Eat 5 cups a day
- Nuts, pulses and legumes: Just make sure nuts are unsalted, raw.
- Whole grains
- Berries (without milk, cream, ice cream and sugar, of course)
- Dark chocolate, coffee and tea: These foods contain powerful antioxidants that help increase your metabolic rate. Limit the dark chocolate to 1 ounce per day. You can drink coffee and tea, but don't add milk, cream or sugar, or you'll be packing on more calories than ever.
- Black, red, brown rice
- Bell peppers, chilis, onions, garlic, and spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon. These specific foods activate nerve functions that send "fat-burning signals" to the brain, which in turn signal your body to burn as many as 100 calories per day.