Body composition is 90% diet. If you are looking for a simple method of losing weight then try this — its track record is tough to beat. Actually, it’s not a diet at all, just a way of looking at food. A way of defining food, really.
Real food, of course.
What Is Real Food?
I’ve written about real food before. I tried to define what “real food” is in my “Real Food Primer.” But I wasn’t very specific so I tried to elaborate in “Real Food Redux.” That was a little better, but it began to complicate things.
And you know how I hate complication.
Things should stay simple for as long as they stay simple. Seems simple, right?
But people like to make things more complicated than they need to be. Or, at least, too complicated for the level where they currently stand.
So let’s save the complicated diets for when you’ve been training for years and you’re getting ready for your first bodybuilding contest. Or maybe for when you’ve been drafted to the pro’s and it’s time to start eating like a world class athlete.
If you’re not there yet, however, then let’s just keep it simple for now.
Kill It or Grow It
I realized, and I’m not the first, that the simplest way to define “real food” is with the idea that if you can kill it or grow it then it’s a likely candidate for food.
Now obviously, you can kill or grow many things that are not food. I can grow an elm tree, but it probably doesn’t taste very good. Likewise, I can kill a cat, but I won’t be eating one anytime soon (don’t worry, I love cats and would never kill one . . . unless it looked at me funny).
A Slippery Slope
Here’s the rub: this plan does require a bit of interpretation. And it’s up to you to determine what is allowed under this plan and what isn’t.
But if you’re looking for a guide, here’s how I approach things . . .
If I can’t tell right off by looking at it that it’s killable or growable, then it’s not food – at least, not food ideal for weight loss.
For instance, what about bread? Bread is made from wheat, and wheat is grown. Right?
But that’s not the question we should be asking. The question should look like this: can we grow a loaf of bread?
We can’t grow a loaf of bread. Therefore it’s not “real food.”
How about a burger? Can we grow a burger?
Can we kill a burger?
I can kill a couple burgers in one sitting. But, no . . . we can’t really kill a burger.
What about cereal? Can we grow Fruit Loops? No.
Depends on what you classify as oatmeal. Apple cinnamon flavored instant oats from a package? Not growable. Steel cut oats? Possibly.
You’ll have to navigate the gray area yourself.
A New Perspective
Once you begin to see food through the lens of “kill it or grow it,” it should become much easier to recognize “real food.”
And if we’re looking to lose weight, then “real food” is what we should be eating.
Now, not every meal has to be composed solely of real food. We can always follow the 80/20 rule (though I prefer the 90/10 rule for those who are very serious about losing weight). The point is to make deliberate informed choices about what foods we put into our bodies.
So next time you’re getting ready to cook up some dinner and aren’t quite sure what to have, consider using the “kill it” or “grow it” criteria. You may not be able to grow or kill that lasagna in your freezer, but steak and green veggies certainly fit the mold.