I’m pretty sure at one point in your life you’re going to want to lose some weight, whether you’re getting ready for the warmer seasons (i.e. Spring, Summer), have a wedding to look good in, health reasons, or just about any other reason to look your best and not carry around extra fat.
I want to share with you some simple nutrition tips that will help you get on your way to “healthy” fat loss, not quick weight loss, but the weight you do lose is fat instead of overall weight. When you step on the scale, you’re measuring total body mass, and that’s it. If you want to see the scale drop a few pounds I can easily tell you to minimize your water intake as well as your food intake and exercise. Both liquids and solids weight something, exercise will burn calories and make you sweat and your overall body mass will go down but does this help you lose fat? Does this help you maintain or increase muscle (lean body mass)? Will this method allow you to continue on a consistent path towards your goal? Maybe…but most likely not.
Every time I get a new personal training client or boot camp member I ask them what their goals are. Nine times out of ten their goals are to “lose weight.” I then ask them, “how much weight would you like to lose, or what weight do you want to get to?” Usually it’s 20-40lbs. Then I ask, “Of those 20-40lbs you want to lose, do you want to lose them from fat? Or overall weight?” They all say, “From fat.” See, if their goal was to lose weight and have it show on the scale, then I would have them eat and train to lose weight. Since their goal is to lose fat mass, then I’m going to have them eat a certain way to support their training/cardio days, their off days, how they train, as well as how much sleep they get and how they manage stress.
Healthy Fat Loss Nutrition Tips (in no particular order):
- Manage your calorie intake – It’s going to be in your best interest to be in a calorie deficit when losing fat. You don’t want to be in a surplus of calories and be storing extra calories as fat (in adipose tissue).
- Eat protein in every meal – This will help your body stay in what’s called a “positive nitrogen balance” or “positive protein balance”. Because your body is always burning calories and using various energy sources, you want to make sure your body doesn’t start breaking down your muscle for energy. This process is called, gluconeogenesis (gluco = glucose, neo = new, genesis = birth or creation). This is the process when our bodies breakdown our protein into amino acids, and converts the amino acids into glucose for energy. By consuming protein in every meal you allow for plenty of protein to be provided for protein synthesis.
- Choose your carbohydrate sources wisely – On your resistance training (weight lifting) days, consume starchy carbohydrates such as: gluten free brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams, etc., around your workout time(s). This will provide your body the necessary glycogen stores in your muscles and liver for your intense resistance training workouts. If you workout early in the day, then start tapering your carbohydrates down to just fruits and vegetables towards the end of the day. This will ensure that you’re not storing excess starchy carbohydrates as fat and keeping your insulin levels low and in a steady state. During your off days or cardio days, just consume fruits and vegetables. Do your best to eliminate starchy carbohydrates such as: grains, wheat, legumes, etc. Fruits and vegetables will keep your insulin levels low and in a steady state throughout the day, and allow your body to utilize stored body fat as its main energy source.
- Pre-workout meal – A pre-workout meal will provide your body with the necessary energy and macronutrient sources for an intense and effective workout. This meal will also make sure that you’re in an anabolic state (a build up state) instead of a catabolic state (breakdown). Being in an anabolic state vs. a catabolic state before/during a workout ensures that your body will be utilizing the pre-workout meal as its fuel instead of potential muscle breakdown for energy. You’ll have more energy and be able to push through extra reps and/or more weight, and decrease your risk of breaking down important muscle.
- Post-workout meal – Right after your intense workout your body is depleted of its energy sources/stores such as glycogen, and muscle fibers are broken down. This is when your body is like a sponge and will soak up nutrients quickly to help replenish your glycogen stores and begin protein synthesis (generation of new muscle). Research shows that a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein will ensure that your body is getting adequate nutrients to maximize glycogen replenishment and begin protein synthesis. An example would be: 45g of carbohydrates to 15g of protein (3:1 ratio).
- Consuming essential fats – Essential fats such as: fish oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), seeds, nut butters (old fashion peanut butter, almond butter), etc., are great sources of omega-3s and are anti-inflammatory. These are important for overall health and longevity. Consuming essential fats along with your protein and fruits and/or vegetables (when insulin levels are low and steady) will provide you with great energy and replace the calories that are missing from the starchy carbohydrates. Eat them on your off/cardio days and when you start tapering off your starchy carbohydrates (avoiding the high insulin levels and potential storing of fat).
Above are 6 helpful nutrition tips for successful, healthy fat loss. Look out for Nutrition Tips to Healthy “Fat” Loss (Pt. 2), as well as the Fitness and General Health Tips coming soon. Feel free to leave your comments below, and share this article with others.