I believe that education is the key in many things. If you learn about something, you'll be much better equiped to succed at it. There's tons of information out there and most of it is either wrong or misleading. I'll try to sum it up for you nice and easy like...
Fact #1: The body burns energy (calories) to survive and function. The food we eat provides these calories.
Fact #2: If we eat more calories than we burn (through general function and activity) then the excess is stored. The easist way to store energy is to covert it to fat.
The two facts above are pretty simple to understand. Trying to make a plan that works for you to incorporate methods of utilizing these facts to your advantage is a little more difficult.
Here is some simple math on the subject. If you've seen all of this before, then bear with me as I want to make sure I cover as much as possible...
- A pound of fat = 3500 calories (approximately).
- A week has seven days (duh).
- If you can negate 500 calories a day, for one week, you will burn 7*500=3500 calories. That's one pound of fat loss.
Seems simple, right? In actuality, it is
as simple as it seems. You can either cut calories eaten or simply burn more through activity. The best option is to do both. I try to be really active 5 days a week. If I burn 200 calories through my activities, that ends up freeing around 1000 calories for food (per week). Or I can eat the same as I normally would and lose weight faster.
First you need to find out your basal metabolic rate or resting metabolic rate. You can get a ballpark number here
. Put in a weight that is around 10 pounds lighter than you currently are. For the level of activity, choose "sedentery". This will give you a maintainance amount for a lower weight. Don't eat any more calories than what you it tells you. That alone will make you lose weight. Exercise is the next thing you want to do.
This is where it can get a little complicated. There are good ways to exercise and not so good ways to exercise. I will try to shed some light on how to exercise smarter for your personal goals. I am assuming that you sleep at night and wake up in the morning. After you wake up in the morning, the glycogen levels in your liver have been depleted. They will be restored after you eat. This is the best time to exercise. The reason for this is that your body uses glycogen for energy. If there is none to release into the blood stream, then it has to get energy from elsewhere. We talked about stored energy earlier. That's right, fat gets mobilized into the blood stream this make it available to be turned into energy. If you glycogen levels are higher, it will use that rather than mobilize the fat. Even though the fat is mobilized, it doesn't mean that it will get burned. More about that in a moment, but by keeping your calories down, you don't give your body anything to make new fat. Exercise also kicks the metabolism in as well. Starting it in the morning is a good thing.
More about fat and exercise. Your body will use calories to fuel exercise, however, the way you exercise will determine what it uses to get those calories from. Exercising in the morning allows more fat to be available for burning, but doesn't necessarily mean that it will get burned (it could just as easily get redeposited). The reason for this is that there are many things that the body can use for energy. I'm not going to get too scientific and will boil it down into carbs, proteins, and fats. First off, lean muscle mass burns calories. the more you have, the more calories you need to eat. Just ask any body builder how much they eat a day during the off (read: growing) season. From the ones I've spoken too, upwards of around 5000 calories per day. Anyways, the harder you exercise, the more your body has to use carbs and proteins for fuel. I'm talking intense exercise, the body doesn't know that you plan on quitting in five minutes, so it's throwing anything that will burn onto the "fire". When you are exercising at a lower intensity, your body can better utilize the fat that you have in your bloodstream. This is why mobilizing fat is important; you can't burn it if it's not readily available. Let's do some more math...
Let's say you do 30 minutes of cardio at two different levels.
High intensity (75% carb/protein and 25% fat)
Low intesity (50% carb/protein and 50% fat)
(the above percentages are estimates and will differ per exercise and per person)
Now if you do the high intensity, you'll burn around 250 calories, 25% of which will come from fat for a total of 63 fat calories.
If you do the lower intensity, you'll burn around 180 calories, but 50% will come from fat for a total of 90 fat calories.
Why does this matter? Even though you burned more calories doing the high intensity exercise, the protein you burn will need replaced to rebuild any muscle lost in the process (remember, muscle burns calories so you want to have as much as possible to facilitate weight loss). Any fat you burn is "good riddance" calories. The lower intensity will target your mobilized body fat.
Low intensity exercises include long walks, moderate weightlifting or calisthenics. Low impact aerobics may also count as well.
If you need any help with information regarding exercise plans, let me know. If I can't halp you directly, I can at least send you in the right direction.
Back to diet. Most of this I'm going to leave up to you. Plenty of people have listed diabetic friendly websites, etc. I will tell you my ideas as far as food is concerned.
The suggestion to get rid of sugary drinks is a good one. I would get rid of all drinks that contain calories. If you have to drink milk, that's fine just make sure to track the calories. Think about this, an 8 ounce glass of orange juice runs around 110 calories and won't fill you up or keep you full. An orange will run you 60 calories and fill you up and contains fiber and forces you to chew (psychological effect). Which one will help you lose weight if you want to taste an orange?
For me, I count every calorie. I have a digital scale I got on ebay for $25 and I weight stuff out. If you're serious about losing weight, you might want to get one as well. I also graze all day on small simple foods. Breakfast is either an apple (55 calories) or a couple of hard boiled eggs (150 calories). I'll probably eat about an hour or so later. Some fresh, raw veggies. A handful of baby carrots and some celery will keep my good for another hour or so and only cost me around 60 calories. The fruits and veggies won't keep me from getting hungry for much longer so I'll eat a chicken breast cooked on a george foremen grill (those things are great for chicken) between two slices of light whole wheat bread (170 for the chicken 70 for the bread). You can use certain condiments as well. Be wary of mayo for obvious reasons. Cheese can also be a calorie killer; 1 ounce of colby jack is around 110 calories. Just some examples.
Personally, I'm on a 1800-2000 calorie per day diet. With exercise I am losing a little over 2 pounds per week. Quick losses are not good, 1-2 pounds per week is about what you want to keep it off permenantly. I'll eat around 1000 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. This allows me to have a sizable dinner so I'm not hungry before bed. I am allowed to eat whatever I want as long as I account for the calories.
As far as diet is concerned, the best approach (in my opinion) is to plan everything you're going to eat that day. Don't leave things up to chance. Like the investment firm commercial says "Nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan." One thing you might try is to come up with food ideas (from where ever) and write each "meal" on an index card. Just write the food, the portion size, and the calories on the card. When you are planning the next days meals, just put what you want in one pile and add up the calories. Then get everything together (I do all my prep the night before). Or you can use them like coupons where after you eat something you put the card for it away. Whatever works for you.
Things to look out for...
Don't eat too few calories. I see people try to starve themselves all the time. It works for a few weeks and then they start gaining weight and can't figure out why. When your body isn't getting enough calories, it thinks it is starving and starts to store energy (fat). It uses muscle mass to fuel the body which makes it less efficient at burning calories (remember, muscle burns calories). Basically, don't eat under 500 calories under your current maintainance level (the one we checked before was for a goal level and should already account for caloric restriction) and you should be alright.
Watch out for additives. I try to cook all my own food so that I know what's in it. Prepackaged foods have much higher fat, sodium, and sugar content. Fresh raw foods and foods you cook yourself are way better as you simply have more control. I can send you links to online databases of food info. Let me know if you need them.
Consult with your doctor on your diet as well. Come up with something and run it by him. I don't know enough about high blood sugar and diabetes to say "I know what you should eat." and I certainly wouldn't want to be at fault for sending you in the wrong direction. Also, doublecheck any info anybody tells about on this subject (including mine). It may take a few weeks for you to start noticing any major difference (although I doubt it will take more than a few days). And keep in mind that it may take some time for your body and metabolism to adapt.
And don't get mad at yourself if you have bad days. I give myself a splurge day once a week. I don't go crazy, but I don't count calories either. I've noticed that even though I don't have to count calories, I still eat smart and use smart portion control as well.
Hopefully I didn't confuse you too much. If you have any questions feel free to ask them.