As a young girl dreaming of being the flyer in cheerleading, I wanted to lose weight so other people could lift me.
I was always active as a kid and for the most part, I had the exercise part down. However as a sweet tooth fanatic I didn’t have the diet aspect figured out.
At age 16 I began working at a healthy snack shop called Life Cafe located inside Lifetime Fitness. The three years I worked there largely impacted my perspective on nutrition.
My eyes were opened to see the important nutritional side of fat loss and realize exercise was not the best way or only way to lose weight.
Unfortunately, not only was I inundated everyday with good and bad information via personal trainers, bodybuilders, stay-at-home moms and plastic surgeons who frequented the Life Cafe, but Lifetime Fitness as a company saw to it that the employees were educated on various nutrition “things” in order to sell supplement products.
I was taking everything little bit of nutrition information literally and feeling very overwhelmed as a teen who was trying to get leaner.
And what’s worse is that with all the popular weight loss articles in magazines my confusion only grew during college.
I want to talk you through six diet/nutrition things that I have taken too literally and stressed about too often. I will then explain why I no longer stress about them and give you some examples of how you can approach these things in your diet.
Disclaimer: I am giving you these tips based on a fat loss perspective. My old worries came from stress of wanting to lose weight and thinking each of these six topics were the RULE for fat loss at one point or another.
Today we will talk through the first three and on Monday I will go through the next three in Part II.
The first three diet things I stopped stressing about are sugar, sodium and carb intake.
I am getting pretty real and opening up 100% in these videos to candidly share dieting woes from my past. I hope to show you that we all have similar questions when it comes to nutrition.
Watch the videos below and learn what used to stress me out and why I stopped.
- Sugar from fruit is not going to kill your progress or inhibit you so long as you are also getting ample protein.
- While eating candy from sugar is no help in making you feel full, eating it on occasion will not hurt you so long as you understand the total amount of calories you are consuming.
- Own your decisions! If you decide to indulge on a brownie one day and eat slightly more than normal, it is OK! Move on and eat normally again the next day. It’s when we feel bad about eating the brownie and then self-sabotage (aka eat the entire sheet of brownies) that inhibits progress.
- On nutrition label you should look at total calories and protein. If the protein is high and calories fit into your daily intake then you can feel great about your decision.
- Salt is a mineral (and not a calorie providing the body with energy that it must process/digest) therefore it has no bearing on energy intake or expenditure and cannot cause one to gain fat or lose fat.
- Excess sodium will lead to swelling and it can cause high blood pressure. It has even been linked indirectly to obesity because high sodium intake is only achievable with processed foods; and we know that increased intake of high calorie, sugary, packaged foods can lead to obesity. To read more about salt, check out this article from Precision Nutrition.
- Adding salt at the table is OK. Having 2,300 mg of sodium a day is recommended by experts, however the average American consumes 3,400 mg/ day. We can survive on 500 mg.
- Salt intake will not make you fat unless your daily intake of calories is in a surplus of what you need.
- Protein intake is crucial for fat loss because it helps you feel more full on less calories. If your caloric intake is less than what you need to maintain your weight (a deficit) so long as you consume protein, there is no magical number of carbs you should consume.
- For every 1 gram of carb your body holds onto 3-4 gams of water. So an increase in carbs can affect your weight on the scale in the short term due to water retention but this has nothing to do with actual fat storage.
- If certain carbs trigger you to overeat and create a caloric surplus, than limiting those is beneficial for fat loss.
- Check out my article “What is the best carb for fat loss?” here.
As you can see trying to lose weight at an impressional teenager was hard because there were so many outside forces motivating me, confusing me and leading me to believe crazy things about how to lose weight.
I was choosing to work on one thing at a time, hoping that changing that one thing would help me lose weight when in reality all I needed to do was work on how many total calories I consumed each day.
There is no single measure of sugar one should eat to lose weight quickly. Generally speaking when people cut out added sugary sodas, sugars on top of cereals, or candy it is easy to lose weight because those types of added sugars were not contributing to a satiety feeling, so without them, most people don’t feel crazy-hungry right away.
Many of my clients come to me not with the problem of eating too much candy however, but with a fear or eating too much fruit or too much sugar. They have spent months trying to eliminate sugar completely with almost regular binges that make them feel guilty. They think they “just need way more will power to stop eating sugar or stop binging” but really they need to help finding a realistic balance. If you can relate, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, let’s chat about it.
Salt is not something that will make you gain weight. A surplus in calories is the only way to gain weight. It can affect the number on the scale in the short term, but it won’t make you store fat.
There is no secret amount of carbs one should aim for to see fat loss.
On some days I feel better energy wise with slightly more carbs, and the better I feel the less likely I am to stay on track and not eat more than I need. Sometimes higher fat makes me feel better. Overall it isn’t some certain amount or lack of amount of carbs that make or break me.
I hope this article helped you better understand who I am, where I’ve come from with my dieting past and why calories in is the best way to really make stride when it comes to fat loss.