There are a lot of variables to take into consideration when making plans to reach a fat loss, muscle gain, or health focused goal. Physical training is essential for your goals and has many individual variances in itself but, today, we are going to talk nutrition.
Carb cycling, fasting, Adkins, keto, neato, what have you; there has always been a lot of confusing and conflicting information (thanks supplement companies) surrounding nutrition, especially when it comes to health and fitness (it’s worth noting that nutrition focused on your health and nutrition focused on your body composition is not always the same). Many times, individuals choose a diet based on friends’ results, how well they are marketed to, or how big of promises a company makes to the consumer if they follow their plan.
In reality, every person has a list, and a big one at that, of individual discrepancies that will shape how you should be eating. Everything from underlying diseases and the status of your microbiome to what you like to eat or how often you like to eat. As a personal trainer, my job is to take in this complex equation with dozens of variables and produce an answer leading to the desired result.
While I can’t train every single one of you, I can give you some things to look for, to make the right choices for you, based on your goals.
Number 1 – Consider Digestibility
This one trick will change your outlook on food almost immediately. Here’s what you do: after all of your meals/snacks, ask yourself “How does this make me feel?”. Before long, you’ll start to have an understanding of what foods make you feel well and what foods don’t. Keeping a journal really helps.
On the same note, eating foods that digest well is paramount for good nutrition. Let me explain. We’ve always hear the phrase “you are what you eat” but, that isn’t as true as you think. We are not what we eat, we are what we absorb. Essentially, there’s a hole running from your mouth to, well, take a guess. Until your food passes through the gut or stomach lining, it isn’t actually inside your body yet. Be sure to eat foods that don’t causes excessive stomach discomfort or issues in the bathroom. Not only will you get more nutrients but, your gut health will likely improve, which can effect your mental health just as much as your physical.
Number 2 – Tracking your food
The single most important aspect of any diet is tracking your food intake. That means writing down and weighing all or your meals, or at least as many as possible. The more you track, the more accurate your recordings. Not only is this absolute gold to a fitness professional such as myself but also, it gives you your starting place.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with their diet is they jump straight into what they think is optimal. Your body must have time to adjust. You wouldn’t jump into a marathon tomorrow not having ran for 7 years so don’t jump into a diet with no clue as to where your macronutrients are at the moment. Find your starting place and systematically and slowly work towards the right macronutrient profile.
Number 3 – Optimizing your Macronutrients
Your macros are the building blocks of your diet. There’s a lot that goes into determining what each individual’s macronutrient profile should look like and even more work to be done when we begin talking about micronutrients.
That said, I can safely assume that if you’re following the typical American diet, or even any fad diet, that you’re not eating enough protein. No, not bro-tein shakes, nuts, milk, or cheese. Chicken, steak, beef, turkey, fish, eggs. Prioritize it. Make it take up half of your plate or 4-6oz at every meal. Yes, every meal. Prioritizing protein has a lot of benefits, including better gut function and digestion.
Once your macronutrient profile begins to take better form, you body composition will follow, given your training and sleep are in order.
Number 4 – Stop Over-Restricting
Okay, I know I said jumping into a diet too fast was one of the biggest mistakes but this is THE biggest mistake made by individuals seeking fat loss. Over restriction causes your hormones to shift in a way to cause fat GAIN, it slows your metabolism making fat loss harder, it makes you tired, and it just plain sucks. Not only will you get less and less results with more and more effort but, if you macros are out of whack, you have a recipe for minimal results and a maximal fat gaining rebound as soon as you revert to your old way of eating, making future fat loss more difficult as well.
Instead, follow the steps above, and don’t expect fat to just fall off. It’s a slow process and needs to be done systematically. Fast fat loss doesn’t exist. At least not permanently and without an ever bigger rebound.
In many cases, I have my clients reverse-diet. Reverse dieting is exactly what it sounds like—eating more, not less, to lose weight. It seems paradoxical but it really just points the power of proper hormone and macronutrient balance. It isn’t uncommon to take a client form eating 1100 calories to over 2000 per day and see a weight loss of 10 pounds or more. It isn’t some voodoo witchcraft that some companies and “trainers” prescribe—just science.
Number 5 – Cook EVERYTHING
If you cook your food, even if it isn’t great for you or according to a great macro profile, you’ll likely see health and fat loss benefits. Anything that comes in a package or preprepared (i.e. processed foods), is made to be hyper palatable. That means food giants spend millions and millions every year in research and development to make sure you crave and over eat their foods. Your food addiction, fat gain, and poor health means money in their pocket.
These foods are designed to be easy to eat and thus easy to overeat, which spells trouble for your daily calorie and macro goals. Additionally, consuming nothing but hyper palatable food causes palate fatigue—your taste buds turn into flavor junkies and reject anything not full of sugar, salt, and fat (each of which are not bad or unhealthy by themselves but in combination or excess are deadly). Then when you try to eat a salad, it tastes like dirt instead of bursting with flavor. So no, that person enjoying their salad isn’t crazy, their taste buds just haven’t hijacked.
There you have it; 5 easy to implement dietary advices that will likely have a big impact on your health and fitness goals. Don’t forget to pair your dietary efforts with a solid training program. Aside from burning calories, proper training sends a loud and clear signal to your body to drop fat mass and tone up.
If you have questions about training, nutrition, or anything pertaining to health and fitness stop in or message Uplift Fitness! We are staffed exclusively by health and fitness experts, including certified personal trainers and we absolutely love to help (:
If you haven’t joined yet, click here to sign-up online, take a virtual tour of the facility, and meet our staff!