(And the Behaviors that Go Along With Them)
The basics of weight loss comes down to a simple concept. This concept is calories vs. calories out. You have to burn more calories through lifestyle and exercise, than you eat daily in order for your body to dig into your stored fat. Which will result in you losing weight (or at least inches), and looking great. As the warmer months of spring and summer approach people are going to be looking for ways to lose weight. And some of these people might not know where or how to kick off their Summer Body weight loss campaign. I’ll provide you with a few simple steps so that you’ll at least be pointed in the right direction.
- Cut Back on Sugars and Starches
Most people have nutritional habits that consist of eating meals with large amounts of processed foods, or foods that are high in sugar. If you reduce the amount of food choices that you’ll make that are comprised of these types of carbs, you’ll automatically reduce your calorie intake.
- Eat Protein, Fat, and Fibrous Veggies
For a lot of people, their food choices are made because of hunger. They eat certain foods, or the go long periods of time without eating. Which can lead to bad food choices. Proteins, fats, and fiber cause the stomach to empty at a slower rate. Which gives you better control of your hunger, as well as better control of your blood sugar levels due to feeling fuller (or more satiated), for a longer period of time.
- Work on Getting 6-8 Hours of Quality Sleep Every Night.
Getting quality sleep every night is the single behavior that you can change the will benefit your weight loss efforts. The amount of quality sleep every night has an effect on:
- Your Blood Sugar Levels
- Your Cortisol Levels (or other Stress Hormones)
- Hunger and Appetite Control
- Your Metabolism…
Most people fail to recognize that there is a difference between when you go to bed, and how much sleep you’re actually getting. There’s also a difference between sleeping through the night, and frequently getting up to change positions, go to the restroom… I speak about this subject in more detail here https://youtu.be/kSm1t9po3Sk
- Chew Your Food More Thoroughly
This breaks down the foods that you eat more and allows for better digestion. In addition to this, it gives the body time to realize that it’s full from that meal, and allows it time to send the signal that it’s time to stop eating.
- Drink Lots of Water
In addition to needing proper hydration to transport nutrients, and allowing muscle to perform properly, drinking water with your meals can also help you feel more full, or satiated.
Adding those simple steps to your program will be a good start for MOST people. But most of the people I come across don’t just want, or need to strip as much weight (not just fat) as possible. They also want to:
- Look Great Naked- (Which may include building up, adding shape, or improving lagging areas)
- Improve Performance
- Feel Better & Be Healthier
With that being said, the thing with the above mentioned strategies is that they (outside of quality sleep) are strategies within your program or strategy. They may not be the complete strategy. Let me explain. For people that don’t have large amounts of weight to lose, don’t want to mindlessly strip weight, also want to improve their health, build muscle… there’s usually a need to find some sort of balance with your fitness or nutrition program. For example, you can cut calories too much. And in some cases, when you cut calories too much, you can actually cause the body to hold on to body fat. The body works on these feedback loops that fight to maintain balance. If you take things too far in one direction, the body’s processes fight back by taking something away. For example, if you try to cut calories too much, the body eventually slows down your metabolism. Which makes it harder to create the calorie deficit that you need to lose weight. It can also increase sympathetic nervous system activity. Which may make it more difficult to achieve quality sleep.
For the group of people that fall into these earlier mentioned categories that:
- don’t have large amounts of weight to lose
- don’t want to mindlessly strip weight
- also want to improve their health, or build muscle
I’d like to propose a different list for these people. One that sets them up for success, also allows them to find balance and live a healthier life. One where the scale isn’t the only way to gauge success. Personal training is about designing PERSONALIZED fitness and nutrition programs, strategies… that don’t treat everyone the same. They account for how everyone is different, have different needs, and different goals.
These 4 steps below work well with the 5 strategies mentioned at the beginning of this blog:
- Get Your Weight & Body Fat (if possible). This also gives you a great starting point where you can measure future success against. Especially if you add some circumference measurements.
- Figure Out How Many Days You Are Willing to Train (At least 3 days/week)
- Set up your Calorie Intake. You’re going to need the previously mentioned steps to plug into a formula to get your maintenance calories. Everyone has different starting weight, body fat percentages… so you’ll plug this info into a Katch McArdle Equation Calculator. This will give you your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which would be the amount of calories you would burn if you slept 24 hours. Then you’ll take the values from the Activity Factors that you get based on the type of exercise that you perform, and multiply it times your BMR. This is your maintenance calorie intake, which should maintain your current weight. Now people that don’t have large amounts of weight to lose, may also need to build muscle with the fat loss their looking to attain… may want to use a smaller calorie deficit of maybe 10-15%. So you could just multiply your maintenance calorie intake by .9 or .85. If you have higher body fat levels, you can use 20-30%
- Set up Your Macros. This is where you can further individualize your nutrition program. Is your body fat high? Then protein intake might be at 1 g/lb. of lean body mass vs. 1 g/lb. of body weight. If your body fat is high, you may also need to have a higher fat/lower carb nutrition program depending on how much exercise you’re performing. Where you’re at, and where you want to go determines how you set up your macros.
- Get a Food Scale to Weigh & Measure Portions. And an app to track the foods that you eat.
Once you have your calorie deficit and macros set, then the first set of steps or strategies come into play. Outside of getting quality sleep, these steps are strategies that help allow you to make the foods that you have in your nutrition program more nutrient dense, which is high in nutrients, low in calories, vs. being more calorie dense. Being calorically dense is when you have foods that are higher in calories, but low in nutrients. You can also avoid cutting calories by too much when attempting to hit your calorie and macro targets.