Diet and exercise can be a tricky concept for anyone to wrap their head around. Which is more important for weight loss? Which is more important for toning up or general fitness? What constitutes a healthy combination of the two elements?

For anyone, bar those lucky few who live their lives and make their careers in the health and fitness industries, it can be all-consuming and complicated, and without the right guidance, results may vary widely.

Health professionals historically maintain that weight loss comes down to 80% diet and 20% exercise. For those looking to slim down and maintain a healthy weight, this is great, but what if you want to tone up and not just drop kilograms for a predominantly slim frame?

Food can be as confusing as what exercises to do to tone certain parts of the body.

For anyone who has looked on the back of any food packaging for its ingredients list, you’ll know you’re often left with your head spinning at the variety of different fats, carbohydrates or sugars in any item.

 

Weight loss only foods…

 

Maybe you’re aiming for a bikini body for your upcoming holiday, and toning up isn’t a main cause for concern with you.

Foods for weight loss are less complicated. Lots of greens, fresh fruit, completely cutting down on processed foods and keeping with a strict low-carb diet is always the way to go for considerable weight loss results. Doing this at a steady pace will help maintain your weight loss, as we all know that crash diets never last long.

Many women find that cutting down on meat during a diet period also rapidly accelerates the process, which is why many vegetarians and vegans drop the pounds quite quickly at the beginning of their journey.

Avoid white bread and pasta and, if you must, turn to multi-grain or wholemeal bread or wholemeal pasta. The difference is astounding.

It’s not all simple, however. Recently in the media there has been a lot of talk regarding bad sugars being disguised as healthy sugars in many of our everyday snacks. Self-proclaimed “healthy” muesli bars and cereals are often crammed with these, leaving the consumer none the wiser. Stick to natural sugars found in fresh fruit and proteins found in low-GI foods, such as the ever-popular quinoa.

If you learn about the different hidden sugars and the merits of good fats versus bad fats, you’ll be well on your way to your target weight in no time.

 

Want to remain toned and healthy

 

The base is the same for this route, or the aforementioned slimming program. If you are keen on toning up and not just dropping the fat, you will need to incorporate exercise into your everyday routine and you will need proteins to build enough energy to do so. If you are comfortable eating lean meats, go for it.

Diet-wise, however, the philosophy remains the same. Start with a base of clean, fresh fruit and vegetables, but this time, build on this with a generous portion of complex carbohydrates, as this is what you are going to be burning off first.

Good complex carbs can be found in bananas, oatmeal and even sweet potatoes and these are all foods that will keep you full for longer, as well as maintaining blood sugar levels. Foods high in sugar will only leave you crashing and burning after a short period of time, bringing on that “jittery” feeling. The inclusion of complex carbohydrates will counteract this and keep you feeling “grounded” for longer.

Whether you are looking to slim down or tone up and build endurance, the principles are the same, bar the addition of proteins and complex carbohydrates. There are so many healthy food options to choose from, you should be excited about your journey ahead!