As a trainer and wellness coach, I still get overwhelmed walking into the diet section of the bookstore. (I don’t buy them fyi, I just go over there and giggle at some of the craziness.)
The weight loss industry is a multi billon dollar industry and with reason. They want to make it super complicated for the average layperson. They want people to be confused and to view nutrition and wellness as a daunting and unrelenting monster that we’re forever fighting. And I truly believe they do a pretty damn good job with the marketing for us that fall victim to the diet industry especially when we feel hopeless and vulnerable. Bingo! They have us sucked in.
“Lose weight with the 5 day detox”
“Trim down with these 3 foods!”
“No more dieting! Just do X!”
THE DIET INDUSTRY WANTS US CONFUSED.
With the diet industry still continuing to explode with complicated and confusing tactics, I find it necessary to come here and break it down as simply as I can. How can we not feel completely overwhelmed when we see 2,000 books before our eyes, commercials that promote fast weight loss and signs galore that promise long term results?
It comes down to this:
So many of us are still confused and overwhelmed about nutrition and failing to get results.
My hope is every time you get frustrated, feel distressed about what plan to follow next or want to break down and cry, come back to the basics. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
Lets start with calorie expenditure:
Diet guru’s can talk all day long about the benefits of specific diets like Paleo, Weight Watchers, South Beach and so on but if we want to break it down into simple terms we MUST create a caloric deficit to see any shift in our fat loss. If you think about it, all the diets out there are pretty much stressing the same thing just in a different way.
So, how can we do this? There’s a few different ways that I like to come at calorie counting:
a) We can write down everything we eat
b) We can track our calories with an app on our phone (Ex: My Fitness Pal)
c) We can have a coach or person we know to hold us accountable with our food and so on….
So let’s discuss the eating less piece. I know it’s hard, it is, trying to get our body to think we are not hungry when we kinda are can definitely be a bit tricky. By no means am I saying you have to cut your calories down to nothing but what I am saying is we have to be in a slight calorie restriction to lose fat. Anything more than that is going to not only burn our precious muscle but drag our metabolism down with it.
As mentioned in previous blogs here’s what I like to do:
For Fat Loss: Take your current weight and X that by 10-12.
For maintenance: Take your current weight and X that by 15-16
Just note the lower the number, the harder it’s going to be. Let’s use myself for example. Let’s say I want to be in a fat loss mode. I’ll take my current weight 135 x 10=1,350. Now, that’s SUPER low for me and I know I cannot sustain that low of a calorie deficit. I mean, be smart about it. If you feel like you’re about to knaw someone’s arm off because you’re so hungry, go up! Remember, be smart and listen to your body.
Again, for fat loss to occur we HAVE TO BE IN A SLIGHT CALORIE DEFICIT TO SEE CHANGES.
What do I suggest to achieve this deficit? Few different things and it really comes down to being honest with yourself about where you’re at mentally with all of this. I have some ladies that will not count calories due to past behaviors which I totally get. While, I have others that love to see numbers and that motivates them in a positive way. For more of the maintenance clients, they really go by their hunger/fullness levels and use more of a mindful eating approach which I do as well. I wrote about this a LOT in my recent trip to New Zealand to my email peeps. I ate out every single meal for 63 meals in a row out there and I had to navigate my way around food and fullness. I’m huge on the #fullnessfactor for this very reason. We can’t always add foods into our fitness app and sometimes we just have to wing it. That’s when I fall back on my #fullnessfactor approach every time I don’t have much control over my food choices.
So, for tracking I suggest My Fitness Pal.
I also suggest being mindful and stopping when you’re at a 7 or 8 on the #fullnessfactor scale. This means stopping at that bite where you feel satisfied, not fully stuffed.
Next is protein:
I cannot tell you how many meal plans I see that lack the most important macronutrient there is. Protein! Our body needs it and it’s been proven to be one of the most effective macronutrients that keeps us satisfied and fuller longer. Even over fat. We need it to build muscle, brain health, amino acids, and so much more.
And it’s highly supportive to fat loss!!!!
How much do we need? To keep it simple, I suggest aiming towards 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Especially if you’re strength training, which you should be. 🙂
Eggs, chicken, fish, steak, tofu to name a few.
If you do dairy: cottage cheese, low fat cheese, low fat milk are good options.
Vegetarian? What about some protein shakes? Seeds/nuts and beans are pretty good options but just be mindful of the amount you’re eating. Beans have more carbs that protein alone and the fats can add up quite quickly with the nuts.
What about Carbs and Fat?
I could go on all day about why we need these other two macros but for the sake of time, I’m going to keep it pretty simple.
a) prioritize protein, fiber and water above all else
b) then add in carbs and fat
c) we really don’t need tons of carbs and fat in one sitting. I like to have one more than the other.
Example? Let’s say we’re going to have a big salad with chicken, avocado, seeds and dressing. Okay, lots of fats there right? I doubt most of us need to add a big potato with that. If we want the carbs, go for it just cut back on the fat a little bit to save some calories. Make sense?
Here’s the thing: we could argue all day long why low carb, high fat works or why a plant based diet works but honestly, it all comes down to what works for you! As long as you’re in a calorie deficit, you will continue to lose some weight.
#4 is Quality of the food:
I remember a woman in the fitness industry that ate Snickers that “fit her macros” before her fitness competition and from what I know, she did really well. Okay, awesome for her, but what about the quality of food there? We all know that Snickers are far from nutritious and carry no form of minerals or healthy fatty acids in them.
Here’s my thing, while we can eat crap all day long that might fit in our macros, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can have a free for all with our food choices. Being mindful of what we put in our body is important! Wouldn’t you rather eat something like this: with bright colors, variety and super high on the nutrient density?
Than this? I mean, sure we all love candy galore (well most of us do) but which one is going to give us lasting energy? You already know the answer.
I’m not saying to deny yourself of candy like above or completely eliminate goodies from your diet (because we will binge on them later) but what I am saying is be smart about it. As I say, eat healthy most of the time with some sprinkles of goodies in there. Got it?
Last one is meal timing and supplements:
Don’t get me wrong, I used to think that only eating 6 meals a day would boost my metabolism but there’s been significant evidence to prove otherwise. You can read more about that in my blog from last week >>>HERE<<<
Do I think we need to refuel after a workout? Of course. Do I think it’s do or die if it’s not within 30 minutes of the workout? No I don’t. Our muscles are not going to shrivel into nothing, our metabolism isn’t going to come to a screeching holt or we’ll die of starvation. Just try to get to the next meal when you can. I honestly think that again, it comes down to calories in and calories out and it really doesn’t matter when you get them in. I have several clients that eat most of their calories at night when they sit down for meal time with their family. While I have others that swear by the need to eat breakfast. Totally cool, whichever you choose is up to you.
Finally, about the supplements…..
I have to kinda laugh about it because no joke, I had about 200 bottles of supplements, seriously. From Milk Thistle to Elderberry (which I both think are beneficial btw) but I quickly realized that my problem wasn’t the lack of supplements I was taking, it was the lack of nutrients I was getting. First, make sure you get the nutrients you need from FOOD. Then, fill in the slots with supplements. I always recommend the following:
Okay, I hope all of this is really helpful for you!
If you’re looking for additional support and guidance and really just need some accountability and direction I’m now taking up to 3 (1-1) clients for a limited time only! For more info, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat all about it!