We are so often told about all the things we shouldn’t be eating when on a diet, from burgers to something as simple as consuming too much fructose from fruit, however we don’t hear enough about the foods we are allowed. Below are my favourite foods I tuck into when I go onto a cutting diet.
1) Chicken or Turkey
Protein is a crucial macro nutrient, which should be making up a significant portion of your diet, however this is increased when you are on a diet. One of the main reasons you should up your protein is so you can protect against muscle protein breakdown. The best places to get this protein is from lean sources, such as chicken or turkey (just remember not to eat the skin or have it coated in breadcrumbs).
One of the biggest mistakes people make when dieting is by simply cutting out fats from their diet. It is important to understand the difference between dietary fat and body fat. When we eat fats, they play a hugely critical role to the body, therefore cutting them out would be detrimental to your health. You will however want to be more careful about what type of fats you are consuming. For example, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as providing you with protein, a double hit of health.
Offering an incredibly low amount of carbohydrates, even when eaten in bulk, this is a great food to fill yourself up on. It will get boring (try to fry it instead of boiling), but this makes up a huge chunk of my diet when I’m cutting. As with most leafy green vegetables, these are packed with crucial micro-nutrients which your body requires.
4) Green Tea
Here is the part that quite a few people don’t want to read – you should be drinking around 3-4 cups per day. That can be quite a large amount if you don’t particularly fancy the taste of green tea. I also recommend sticking to the unflavoured version, as some of the flavoured ones have additives, which you want to be avoiding during this period. Packed with antioxidants, this will help fight free radicals, which are spiked from exercise.
There are so many ‘grapefruit diets’ it is ridiculous. Eating grapefruits are a great option for breakfast, however the difficulty is avoiding putting anything on top, as they can taste pretty bitter. I generally recommend limiting fruit intake during a diet, however there are a few fruits I recommend still eating during this period and this is one of them. There are a huge amount of studies illustrating the fat loss benefits to this magnificent fruit, so make sure to add it to your shopping trolley. It’s low GI, slow absorbing and very high in vitamin C.
Great for the health, mushrooms also help to offer a feeling of satiety. Believe it or not, before this summer, I absolutely hated mushrooms, now I can’t imagine going a week without them. A diet is an opportunity for you to experiment, with different vegetables, different herbs and different recipes, just make sure to pick the carbohydrate sources from low levels on the glycaemic index.
Topping the charts on Biological Value (BV), this means you actually absorb the protein and utilise it properly, better than any other food. In fact, the only thing that truly beats it is whey. Completely rocking the myth that eggs increase your cholesterol level, they actually tend to increase the good cholesterol (HDL – high density lipoprotein), so not as bad as you may have thought. One extra topic on this subject, the cholesterol is contained within the yolk. So maybe eat a couple of eggs with yolk (for the nutritional benefits they contain) and then eat just the whites of a couple more eggs. For me, nothing fills me up quicker than eggs, so they are great as a last meal of the day before I go to bed.
8) Plain Rice Cakes
These might seem like an odd one to have on the list, but I found these to be a lifesaver. You will have those moments through the day where you’re craving a snack. If you can’t hold the urge any longer then it is better to have some rice cakes on-hand, rather than running to a vending machine to buy a chocolate bar. I plain rice cake should only contain 4 grams of carbohydrates, meaning it will barely dent your macro-nutrient breakdown for the day, helping you to stay on target. Just be careful with the flavoured ones, I spoke to several people in the office who were eating the caramel ones and genuinely thought they were healthy!
The ultimate office meal IF you are allowed to eat at your desk. Why is this such a good one? Once you’ve heated it up in the microwave, it will be too hot to eat, therefore you will have a spoon every couple of minutes, while carrying on with your work. I will often find I’m just finishing a bowl of soup an hour after I started it, not bad considering it only contains around 300 calories. Look for a low carb option (tomato or mushroom soups are normally a good option), or even better, make it yourself so you know exactly what went in it.
A very slow releasing carbohydrate, these are great to throw into shakes or have as porridge. This will leave you full up for an incredibly long time (normally adding an extra hour on till when I next get hungry). Remember though, if you do make porridge on a diet, opt for water instead of milk. To flavour the porridge a bit better, you can stir in some whey protein and the flavour in the whey should help (I use chocolate whey, which works a charm).