Nutrition and Fat Loss, Where to Start?
So it’s the new year, and one of your resolutions is to get in the gym, lose some weight, and get that body you’ve always wanted. Or maybe the holidays haven’t been so forgiving, and your pants are a little more snug than you remember? Hey we’ve all been there, yes even me. So what’s next? Surely one of those diets everyone is doing will be the answer you’ve been looking for right? Low carb high fat, high protein low carb, fasting, no processed foods? Well which is best? In a future post I’ll delve deeper into those, but before then I think it’s important to lay a foundation for proper nutrition that can address some of the issues you may be having. I’ll be outlining some common mistakes people make, and what you can do to correct them. These are easy things you can implement TODAY, that can help you get on track to a healthier body, and one that you are happy with.
Below I posted my newest Vlog, which is also on the topic of diet and fat loss in case you’d rather watch, than read.
The amount of different diets, that have surfaced over the years can be dizzying. Keto, paleo, veganism, carnivorism, which is best!? Theoretically, none are superior in terms of weight loss if you equate the calories consumed in each. This is because in order to lose body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit. Your BMR or basal metabolic rate, is the amount of energy or calories your body needs daily to maintain normal function. For weight loss to occur, you must consume less calories than that amount. Personally I believe there are many other factors involved in weight loss, than just calories in vs. calories out, but that’s a good starting point. Start with a SMALL deficit at first, and you can increase that deficit over time. Using an app like myfitnesspal is a great way to track how much you’re eating, and what those meals consist of in terms of your macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates).
More veggies and protein
Firstly, BMR or metabolism is directly correlated to lean body mass, i.e how much muscle you have. Protein is often lacking in people’s diets, you should aim for 0.5 grams-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This is usually around 20-30 grams per meal, depending on your frequency of eating.
Even if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important that protein consumption still remains relatively high. In order for your body to maintain it’s muscle tissue, a lot of energy is needed. And thus, lean muscle is usually the first to go when we subtract calories. However, some studies have shown that while in a calorie deficit, consuming higher amounts of protein than normal can help spare your precious muscle tissue.
Eating more vegetables should be self-explanatory. They are full of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that our body needs. They also have fiber which is beneficial for digestion, and colon health. AND they also make you feel fuller! When’s the last time you overate on broccoli or asparagus? Probably never. These foods are also very low calorie, and nutrient dense, it’s a win win! Now you don’t have to eat a specific vegetable if you don’t like it. I hate tomatoes and avocados (I know technically they’re fruits and I know you probably think I’m crazy for not liking them) so I don’t eat them. Simple.
Why do we snack? Often times it’s because we’re bored. We’re sitting in an office, just waiting until it’s lunch time. And the more you think about it, the more hungry you become so you say “oh some nuts won’t hurt” or “I’ll have some fruit or chips that’ll keep me satisfied until then.” But the fact is, you shouldn’t really be so hungry that you need to eat in between meals. If you are, that means something is probably lacking within those meals. Are you lacking greens? Protein? Fat?
In addition, by restraining yourself to eating only during certain periods of time you gain the benefit of a quasi-intermittent fasting effect. The spike in protein synthesis is much greater after 3-5 hours of not having eaten, as opposed to eating food every hour or two. Also, continuously spiking your insulin by eating food constantly probably isn’t the best thing. I’m not by any means saying don’t eat fruit or nuts, I’m just saying eat them as part of your meal to receive a better benefit. Besides, the more you eat in between meals means that you’re just taking in more calories.
Slow down and chew your food!
Now I’m not aware of any specific studies or research correlating how many times you chew your food, to bodyweight. BUT, how about you run an experiment on yourself? The next time you’re eating a big meal, count how many times you chew a spoonful of your food. If it takes you 10-20 chews for one bite, chances are you finish your meal pretty quickly. And I’m willing to wager that you probably aren’t full by the time you finish. So try this, aim for 40 or more chews PER BITE, your food should be the texture of mashed potatoes by the time you’re swallowing. Personally I take foreverrrr and a half to eat large meals. This could be a reason why it’s so hard for me to gain weight, again no data just an observation.
If you’re still on the fence about this, consider the benefits. For one you’ll savor your meals more. Eating shouldn’t be a race, take time to appreciate what you’re eating and the nutrients you’re consuming. Eating will take longer, and thus you’re less likely to overeat.
Another thing to consider is the types of foods you’re eating, foods high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients usually take longer to chew and breakdown. Try eating a steak and compare it to how long it takes you to eat a plate of pasta. Just something to consider.
Increase fat intake.
Now, our beloved fats. Fats are crucial for, well living. Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, ghee and even grass fed butter do wonders for the body.
They are extremely important for hormone function and production, energy metabolism, nutrient absorption, and nervous system function, Most the cell membranes in our body contain fat, and our brains, are the most fat dense organ in our body! How is it then that it has become so vilified? Without going too far down a rabbit hole, lets just say, back in the 70’s the sugar industry “influenced” (with their checkbooks) what certain research had to say about the link between sugar, fat, and heart disease. No I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and no I didn’t make that up. Here’s a link to an article highlighting the issue, but just google “sugar industry, harvard scientists” to find dozens of articles bringing this corruption to light.
But I digress..Bottom line, fats slow digestion, are necessary for our body, and they keep you full longer. Carbs tend to make us feel unsatisfied so we consume more of them. Eat more carbs around when you workout, and less so at other times of the day. Before and after your workout is the ideal time. This doesn’t mean throw common sense out the window and overindulge in fats, but again they have a place in most diets, and more often than not it’s appropriate to eat them.
Catch your Z’s
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about how important sleep is. But the fact of the matter is that it is probably even more important than we know. I could write a book about how important sleep is, oh wait there are tons of books researching the importance of sleep!
Getting restful sleep is crucial for the body, and has MAJOR effects on weight loss, and metabolism. So I’ll just leave this here.
“Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: 1. alterations in glucose metabolism; 2. upregulation of appetite; 3. decreased energy expenditure” (Sleep Medicine Reviews Journal).
This means your body will alter the way it uses sugar, potentially through insulin desensitization. Isn’t diabetes when your body is desensitized to insulin? Hmm.. Also appetite will also increase, which can potentially lead to overeating. And what’s worse, a decreased energy expenditure means even if you have an intense workout, you’ll burn less calories than you would have while getting enough sleep.
The Almighty: Exercise
Let me be clear, exercise is not an option. It’s not a matter of wanting to lose weight or not, that’s just an added benefit. However if you want to live a healthy life now, and in the future, exercise should be a priority. Exercise daily for a minimum of 20 minutes. And a few days a week I would ideally increase the exercise to 45 minutes or an hour. Resistance exercise like lifting weights and high intensity intervals is ideal for fat burning and will also reap a plethora of benefits. Some of these benefits include: neurogenesis, better learning, better body composition, better mood, better sleep, increased longevity, increased libido, need I go on?
Try this: Tabata sets are performed by doing an exercise for 20 seconds all out, resting for 20 seconds, then repeating 6-8 times. It could be a simple exercise like a squat, or a burpee, pick your poison.
Checkout my youtube page if you haven’t already, for free workouts I’ll be posting!
Key takeaways: Think of your diet as fuel for your body. No matter your profession, you’re all athletes, and you need to eat to perform. Whether it’s on a stage, on a court, or in an office, wherever your domain is, give yourself a leg up and give your body what it needs. Does this mean that you can’t eat anything that doesn’t fall within the parameters of nutrient dense, low calorie, vegan, keto, paleo, or “clean” foods? Hell no! Live your life, remember eat what you want, but first what you need.