When starting a fat loss journey you have one vision in mind, to lose weight. But what about the journey to get there? A lot of people tend to only focus on what is most important to them....losing weight. But you have to think of it like this; the only way to achieve your dreams is to write down little goals and accomplish those little goals first, and then, eventually, over time, you will finally achieve your dream. Weight loss is the exact same. So, sit tight, put away any distractions and enjoy some time learning about what goals you can set in order to achieve weight loss safely and efficiently.
What diet should I choose?
Before we get into our goals let's talk about choosing a diet. The first step is to choose a diet that is suitable for you. But isn't it just mind-boggling the amount of diets that are out there? I mean, you've got Keto, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Zone, Whole 30, Atkins and the list just goes on and on. But which one is right for you?
First, you need to look at dieting as long-term and not short-term. Short-term diets are fad diets and they only lead you to restricting foods and, unfortunately, that leads to further weight gain in the future. The above diets are considered fad diets because they restrict foods such as; carbs, refined sugar, dairy, fast foods, savory foods, sweets, candy, sodas blah blah blah, you get the jist. But not only do they restrict foods you have these nutrition 'gurus' that demonize them and tell you they are bad for your body/health and turn into fat when you consume them which is complete BULLSHIT!
So, what do I mean by long-term? Long-term is choosing a diet that you can maintain for a long period of time without having to restrict foods that you enjoy. Restricting foods you enjoy leads to further weight gain because once you have stopped dieting you eat them again and often times you over indulge. And have a guess what? You gain the weight you lost and blame the foods you restricted for the weight gain, leading to an unhealthy relationship with food. It's simple really, the amount of calories you consume in a day defines your overall weight. The more calories you eat the more weight you put on, and the less calories you eat the more weight you lose. Now, to maintain a healthy body you must consume foods that are rich in nutrients such as; meat, fish, dairy, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Once you are in a calorie deficit, consuming fewer calories in a day than you burn, you will lose fat 100%.
So, what's the best diet for you? One that you can adhere to for a long period of time without restricting the foods you like. Most likely you'll want to live by the 80/20rule. 80% nutrient dense foods (meat, fish, dairy, whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies) and 20% calorie dense foods (cakes, cookies, sweets, sodas, fast foods, chocolate, alcohol). Who ever tells you to stop eating carbs is an idiot and needs a good slap! just sayin!
Now that we got the nitty gritty stuff out of the way let's chat about the small goals you need to achieve to lose fat. But, I want you to remember something, never give yourself a goal you cannot achieve. Like 10lbs in 2 weeks, that's stupid and you're only setting yourself up for failure.
Protein, yes, the king of the nutrients! Consuming a higher protein diet, in my opinion, is the way to go for several different reasons:
Helps you feel satiated after a meal. The key to a good fat loss phase is to feel full because as you restrict calories you will end up feeling more hungry at times
Maintains muscle mass during a fat loss period.
Can help build muscle with the correct training program during a fat loss phase depending on your level of experience
Can slow down the process of muscle breakdown as we get older
Now, on the first week of dieting I always try get my clients to try their best to start with hitting their protein goal. Giving yourself a goal like this is easy to achieve. Once you achieve this goal, you will feel like you have accomplished something. There is nothing worse than dieting and then feel like you're failing, so one goal at a time each week.
But how much protein Wayne? Get your weight in kgs and multiply that weight by 1.6 and use that number :)
It's also important to know that you must consume complete proteins such as; meat, fish, eggs and dairy. But if you are vegan it's hard to do that, so you will need to consume a variety of whole grains, tofu, legumes, beans and peas in one meal to get your complete protein source. Comlete proteins are essential proteins we can only get from the diet, and are essential to maintaining a healthy body.
Fruits and vegetables! Yes, the holy grail of vitamins and minerals essential to keep you alive. So, the next week (sometimes in the same week depending on how adherent my client is) I get my clients to eat 1 salad a day with either lunch or dinner. Now, fruits and vegetables are essential for many different reasons, so here are a some more bullet points :)
Antioxidant Porperties. Antioxidants fight off free radicals in the body to try and prevent you from getting any illnesses and diseases.
Rich in Fiber. Fiber will help you feel satiated, help you poop and is good for heart health.
Rich in vitamins and minerals. The list goes on with these, but these guys are essential to basically keep you alive for longer
Low in Calories. Most vegetables are low in calories which is awesome, but some fruits such as; bananas, apples, peaches and those 'bulky' type fruits are higher in calories, so one or 2 a day is ideal. Remember, just because it's considered healthy, it doesn't mean you can go off and eat as much as possible, calories still matter
Sleep! I honestly believe that sleep is the most important factor to consider for life never-mind just for fat loss. Getting adequate amounts of sleep will help you in various different ways such as:
Improve mood. Improving mood will help prevent getting depressive symptoms such as: stress, anxiety and of course depression
Improve exercise performance
Increase in strength
Increase in energy
Improve memory and alertness
Help maintain muscle mass. It's been proven that 8 hours of sleep a night will help maintain more muscle mass and aid in losing more fat mass, whereas getting only 5 hours of sleep a night you will lose more muscle mass and less fat mass. No joke!
So, I always ask all my clients how their sleep pattern is. If it's bogus then that is up there as their main goal to achieve. Once you start achieving a good sleep pattern your weight loss just seems to be a lot easier and you'll see more consistency on the scales each week.
Stress! Fortunately for some people they don't experience this all too much, but I know quite a few people who do. And for those of you who deal with stress, anxiety or even depression I hope that one day you can over come it, but here is what stress can lead to:
Weight fluctuations due to water retention
Stress eating/eating disorders
Loss of sleep
Bad dietary habits
Now, trying your best to manage your stress is doing things that are good for you like, working out or going for a walk or listening to your favorite music instead of reaching for the cookie jar all the time. Try your best to switch to things that are postive for your body rather than negative to manage your stress levels.
Exercise! Yes, exercise is always going to be a top priority for you to live a healthier lifestyle. Right now my clients always ask me which ones are the best? I always go with lifting weights 3-5 times a week and incorporate some walking or maybe you like running and fitness classes so incorporate them once or twice a week. But starting off you always go with the bare minimum and work with that. Slowly but surely increase your training each week until you're at a maximum you can maintain for pretty much the rest of your life. Here is what training can do for your health
Maintain a healthy body weight
Decrease depressive symptoms
Help prevent certain illnesses and diseases such as; heart disease and obesity.
Improve energy levels
Improve strength and decrease the risk of osteporosis in aging adults
Maintain muscle during a calorie deficit with the right programming
Damn! just writing that makes me want to workout. But, keep in mind, slow and steady will get you to where you've always wanted to be. Give yourself a goal of walking at least 3 days a week and one day of working out and then increase that over time. This mostly applies to those who are only starting out in their fitness journey.
Indulge in something you feared was bad for you. This is something I do for my clients who have shared that they think ice-cream or pizza is bad. I tell them to go and enjoy some ice-cream and a couple slices of pizza but don't feel guilty for it, don't see it as cheating, just see it as a treat for all your hard work you've done thus far. This is creating a healthier relationship with food. It's important to know that you can have the foods you used to fear once a week and is completely fine as long as it's not every single day, and it will help you achieve fat loss forever because it stops restriction of foods. Nutrition is a lifestyle. We all live differently and enjoy different foods. So, it's important to choose a diet that is suitable to you and your way of living and that you can stick to it for along period of time.
I try to teach my clients that weight loss is not linear. You are going to see fluctuations on the scales all the time due to increased sodium, hormonal fluctuations (especially in women), a night out, stress (as this retains water), increase in exercise and the list goes on. So don't worry if one day you weighed yourself and you're 140lbs and then the next day you are 144lbs, that's going to happen, and trust me it's 100% not fat, unless you ate 15,000 calories (which is the equivalent of 16 12" pepperoni pizzas) the day before, because thats how much you would have to eat to gain 4 lbs of fat, so relax. If you went on a bender one night that's fine, you're human, just get straight back to the plan the next day and all is good :)
So, that is just a little summary of what you can do to help you achieve fat loss, but more importantly a healthier more sustainable lifestyle with food. It takes time! Give yourself that time to incorporate the things that matter most like I just mentioned. Give yourself little goals that are easy to achieve each week and do them often until they become habits. Do not shoot for the stars immediately and find yourself being disappointed all the time. Once you accomplish your little goals weight loss will just come, you don't even have to focus on it as much as you thought you did. The biggest challenge you are going to face is patience and consistency. But, the more patient and consistent you are the greater your weight loss will be over time. How great would it be to lose weight and never worry about putting it back on? That's what it's all about, we need to stop 'dieting' and start choosing healthier lifestyle habits.