I have really been on a mission recently to educate myself regarding diet. Since I can remember I have found it incredibly hard to maintain a body weight I have been happy with. I have tried all the diets. Juice diets, fasting diets, low carb, clean eating and they would all just end up in failure, weight gain and self loathing. I thought there must be a magic food or just one rule i should follow that would solve all my problems. When i got into fitness I thought if I could just stick to eating “clean” then the weight would just fall off and then every weekend i would cave and have a full on binge ruining any progress I had made all week.
Something had to change. I started educating myself on fat loss and now with my basic understanding provided by people like Dr Layne Norton and Mike Mathews I have found an easy flexible approach that will keep my body fat low, my energy high. I can go out with my friends for meals, enjoy a drink and eat a small amount of unhealthy food every day. No more bingeing, no more yoyo dieting and I don’t feel helpless or out of control.
I truly think the secret to weight loss and management is education
Fat loss is fat loss
If you eat less than you burn you will lose fat. Essentially you can lose fat by only eating McDonald’s. You would be insanely hungry, low in energy and the health implications would be less than desirable but it’s possible. But there are ways of manipulating these calories to make dieting easy.
Macronutrients are important
What is a macronutrient?
Macronutrients are those nutrients required in large amounts that provide the energy needed to maintain body functions and carry out the activities of daily life. There are 3 macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
When loosing fat you want enough protein to help maintain muscle and keep you full, enough carbohydrates to keep your workouts energised and enough dietary fat to keep you healthy. I will go more in depth with this another time!
The Importance of Protein
Why is a high protein diet good for fat loss?
- Protein is filling. It is much harder to over eat protein than fats or carbs.
- It helps preserve and repair the muscle you have worked so hard for in the gym.
- Protein has less calories per gram than fat. (1 gram of protein = 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories , 1 gram of fat = 9 calories).
- It keeps your blood sugar level stable. Eating protein with carbs promotes steady sugar levels so you wont hit a sugar low having you reach for that chocolate bar.
- Your body uses more energy digesting protein through something we call the thermic effect.
From my experience girls seem to be scared of protein as if it’s something only bodybuilders should be eating. So what does protein do exactly? Protein helps regenerate and repair cells in your body which requires amino acids from proteins. When you exercise however you are causing more damage to cells in your body which will need repairing which is why people looking to change their body composition through exercise need more protein. They will have more cells in need of repairing.
This leads me onto a small tangent about protein powders. The reaction I have had when people have seen my protein powder has made me feel like I may as well been taking illegal substances. I have had comments like “oh no you’re not taking that are you?’. So let me get one thing straight. Whey protein is a bi product of cheese. Whey protein is considered a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose. It has simply become so popular because of its convenience and as protein foods are usually savoury this creates a sweet alternative.
Flexible dieting allows you to eat the foods you want as long as you are hitting your macronutrients (thus staying within the appropriate calorie intake). I now get 85% of my foods from wholesome and nutritious sources while reserving the last 15% for something I fancy like chocolate, ice cream or biscuits every day. Most people use my fitness pal to track their foods. I personally found it quite a messy app so I made myself a spreadsheet which is super simple to input my foods. I have found a few tricks to make this process easier. I make all my lunches for the week on Sunday which is the same each week. My breakfasts are usually within the same 3 or 4 things so they are easier to track. Then with what’s left i workout my dinner. If I know I am going out for dinner in the evening I know it will be a high carb high fat meal so during the day I will eat mostly protein and veggies and I don’t worry about the rest. At the end of the day you have to enjoy life! This is more just damage control.
Our lives are built around habits and routine which we rarely question or think to change. I have started questioning some of my routine habits to see if it makes a difference to my diet. I used to think i was a big breakfast kind of girl. I would get up in the morning with an hour and half to get ready so I could have my eggs, bacon on toast with mushrooms and tomatoes. As much as I still love this breakfast I had a rethink and now i spend an extra hour in bed and have 0% greek yogurt with stevia when I get to work. This has saved me an insane amount of calories and I don’t feel like a need a mid morning snack any more. I would suggest taking a look at your day to see how you can readjust things. If you enjoy a big dinner with your family it might be worth thinking about saving your calories for then. If you don’t enjoy breakfast then don’t eat breakfast!! Do what works for you. At the end of the day the best diet is the one you can stick to.
A lot of the information here I have learnt from http://www.muscleforlife.com/. Also from the thinner learner stronger book and the muscle for life podcasts.
I also follow Dr Layne Norton and his podcasts Physique Science Radio.