As humans we are designed to survive and to thrive.
To do this we must eat.
Besides eating for survival and to meet the daily demands of life, we eat out of habit.
In example, some of us wake up and walk straight to the kitchen because when we wake up it’s a habit to eat something.
Some of us skip breakfast because are habitually tired, we hit snooze and we barely have enough time to brush our teeth in order to make it to the office on time.
And, many of us habitually get bored, or I mean, want a snack at 10:30 a.m because it’s a habit.
Another bad, (or good) habit? Eating when we watch TV.
You might not even have legit hunger pangs but as soon as your feet hit the ottoman you want to reach for a snack.
With that in mind, when it comes to fat loss sometimes switching up your habits is imperative.
Take me, for example.
Every Thursday night I teach two Barry’s Bootcamp classes.
When I get home about 9 pm I’m kind of hungry, really tired and I always eat a Quest Bar (or two) because I’am hungry, lazy and tired (and lazy).
However, during the bikini prep, I had to cut out that snacking habit because it would not fit into my nutrition plan.
If you are someone who wants to lose fat, cutting out some snacks habits is essential for fat loss, especially if they are in your day more out of habit than needs-based.
Cutting out some things can be done very easily– think omitting whipped cream on your latte— and sometimes it’s much more difficult than you anticipate because the habits are so ingrained in your being.
Which leads me to my next point: to lose fat you do not have to reinvent the wheel.
Here are three ways to tweak your nutrition to help you lose fat without completely overhauling your lifestyle:
1.Change the ingredients
Every new client I begin working with has a rough draft meal plan assignment as soon as they are given their calorie and protein guidelines.
They must create a meal plan wherein they hit the guidelines I recommend, based on what they like to eat and what fits their schedule.
The meal plan is by no means a plan they get married to for the next 12 weeks, but it’s a good exercise so that I can see what they like to eat, their knowledge base and so they can see what it takes to achieve the numbers.
Most people do a pretty great job; they surprise themselves.
If you don’t create a plan for success plan, you “plan to fail,” right?
Anyway, sometimes I get “rough draft meal plans” that look like a page torn out of cooking light magazine.
My first question is, “Do you always eat like this?”
The response is typically,”No, never.”
“Well why would you change everything so drastically?” I ask.
“Because I am on a diet now,” they say.
Don’t get me wrong, I work with clients to incorporate more vegetables, healthy choices, decrease booze etc. over time, and at a rate that suits the individual, (gradually throughout the 12 weeks).
However, initially trying to change everything is a plan to fail, in my opinion.
In 2014 I asked a client to do this exercise and she began to cry out of stress.
“Start with what you normally eat and we will go from there,” I said.
Here’s what she told me:
Breakfast: Special K or a natural valley bar and orange juice
Snack: Nature Valley bar
Lunch: PB&J and Cheetos, Fritos or Dortios
Snack: Trix yogurt or other yogurt with 18+ grams of sugar
Here’s how we tweaked the ingredients to make to increase protein, decrease calories and generally keep her lifestyle the same:
Breakfast: Special K (or other low cal cereal) with “Protein Milk” (protein powder and water shaken up) *or* a side of turkey bacon or egg whites.
Snack: Quest bar (21 grams of protein)
Lunch: (high cal day): ezekiel bread fold over sandwich with Nuts ‘n More nut butter (equal parts protein and fat) with regular jam and Quest protein chips on the side and some carrots and/or an apple
Snack: Greek yogurt with 1/2 scoop of chocolate peanut butter protein powder (her fave) or PB2
Dinner: We reviewed some healthier options from her favorite take-out places. Most options were double veggie dinners.
As you can see we did not reinvent the wheel, we simply exchanged some ingredients to take protein up and lower the calories.
She lost 13 pounds in 12 weeks!
2.Quantify what you’re doing
In the past six months I’d say 8 out of 10 clients that come to me have previously done the Whole 30.
I have personally never done it, however, I have no interest in trying the elimination type of diet becsaue I fully plan on having cake at birthday parties and wine with good meals for the rest of my life.
I believe in moderation.
The clients who come to me for help tell me all about the kale they eat, their disdain for sugar and their ability to spurn it, how grains are a thing of their past and that they just can’t seem to lose any weight.
Then I see their “rough draft meal plans”….
Most clients list that they plan to eat 1/2 to 1 whole avocado with lunch; nut butter twice a day and large serving of salmon and olive oil at dinner.
While the aforementioned are excellent sources of fats and proteins, what these clients don’t know how to do is quantify their intake.
They swear that as long as they eat “whole” they should be losing weight, because eating “clean” in the past helped them.
Perhaps they formerly at a high carb, high calorie diet and going “Paleo” or doing the “Whole 30” encouraged them to eat more protein, and less overall calories so they lost a little weight in the beginning stages.
But then their weight loss ceased and they aren’t sure how to not only keep making progress but do so by way of following such a stringent regime without sugar, grains, dairy, wine etc.
You see, when you eliminate major things like sugar and alcohol, you initially take out a ton of calories and you create a caloric deficit that may or may not be so sustainable.
Soon enough you want to eat your entire pantry, or at the very least all of your “Whole 30-approved” nut butter.
So how do you find a happy medium?
While prioritizing protein you work on finding what you can eat on a regular basis that is in such an amount that makes sense for your body.
You work on eating generally whole foods which are beneficial for health and overall wellness, but also work on understanding how much your body needs to live and to thrive.
When you know how much you need to maintain your current weight, then you can figure out how to fit in the things you love, in moderation, and even still lose fat!
Enter, flexible dieting.
Once you can quantify how much you need to eat to maintain, or to create a slight caloric deficit for fat loss, you can plan to fit-in your favorite treats like wine or cake, ever so often.
My #DaretoEat program is a flexible dieting program wherein I teach clients how to quanitfy how much they need to eat to either gain lean mass, lose fat or maintain their current weight, depending on their goals.
Once you find a good balance with your daily energy demands and how to fuel well for life activities you can figure out how to swap out a snack for a treat every now and then, and still stay on track.
3. Slow down
If you want to lose fat you have to create a caloric deficit.
And, you can do this with adding in exercise.
In example, if John Smith who always sits on the couch decides to start exercising one day after never before leaving the couch (and he keeps his diet the same as it always has been) he will begin to lose weight because he is expending more energy than before and not consuming any more.
However, when you create a calorie deficit based on nutrition and you continue to also create a deficit from exercise, chances are you will create a deficit that is much too steep.
You may keep up the intense routine for one day, one week or maybe even a few weeks, but sooner or later you feel ready to devour an entire pizza… and with that comes guilt and feelings of failure.
The first thing I tell my clients is to slow down.
Work on the nutrition part first.
Many of us feel we have to workout every single day or we will gain weight… but what if you have to travel? What if you get sick? What if you are injured?
You should not worry that your waistline is dependent on an hour of exercise everyday.
By exercising for fun, as a destressor, as a healthy hobby, you can control your nutrition at the same time.
When you cut back on exercise a bit (if you are someone who exercises for at least an hour a day) you will decrease your appetite slightly and be able to create a slight caloric deficit.
Unless you are a competitive athlete you don’t really need to train for over an hour every day.
And, with more rest, yo will be able to perform better in your workouts, which will lead to more athletic progresss.
Slowing down the physical activity and creating a very slight caloric deficit and then giving that plan TIME to work is what will help you see results.
Time is the secret ingredient.
Slow down, first. Control your nutrition. Then, as you add in more training, you can listen to your body and add additional carbs and protein in order to fuel for additional workouts.
Sometimes creating new habits can be very helpful when it comes to fat loss. However, trying to reinvent the wheel can not only be daunting, but disastrous.
Try to keep your routine the same but slightly tweak the ingredients you consume.
Make sure you can quantify what you are eating, and not solely rely on ensuring it is “clean” or un-processed.
Finally, slow down. Get your nutrition in check before you decide to turn up the exercise intensity. And, if you workout a lot, it will be easier to figure out how much you should be eating after taking a few more rest days.
YOU GOT THIS.