Let’s be honest, we know from the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the industry that the typical firefighter diet could use some help. But there’s a common misconception that all you can do to lose weight is cut calories. There’s a better way: stop stressing so much about eating less and focus on what you are eating. What I mean is, learn what the most filling foods are and try to mostly eat those.
The most filling nutrients are: protein, fat and fiber.
Now many types of protein, and of course fat, are full of calories so I don’t mean to just load up on these things willy nilly. But what you can do is make sure you’ve got a lean source of complete protein with every meal because then you’re more likely to get full. The leanest (lowest calorie) sources would be beans, no-fat dairy and fish. There’s something called the replacement effect: when people focus on including lean sources of protein, research shows they end up excluding high calorie protein sources without the struggle.
The replacement effect applies to fats too. We’ve all heard it: good sources of fat are omega-3’s and omega-6’s in fish, oils (like olive, canola and vegetable oil) flaxseed and nuts. Dieters tend to cut out fats, but then they get hungry. Instead, focus on replacing your saturated and trans fats found in packaged foods, pastries, full-fat dairy and animal meats with the healthy fats listed above.
Next up, fiber. This is an easy one because whole grains are filling and simple white starch is not. So if you choose 100% whole wheat bread, pasta and tortillas over white, and brown rice over white rice, you’re going to end up eating a smaller portion and staying full for a longer period of time. (Not to mention all the incredible health benefits of eating fiber but that’s a class for another day.) You can also incorporate other whole grains like quinoa and steel cut oats to create a filling yet low calorie meal. Do this and the pounds will melt off.
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I want to hear from you. In the comments below, tell me what you found most interesting about this article and what new thing you’re going to try eating.