Inevitably we will all diet or exercise at least once in our lives, whether or not we are successful on losing those unwanted pounds and trimming up (outside of genetic superiority) will depend heavily on the following factors;
Most attempts at fat loss and fitness fail because there isn’t a clear and concise goal established. When you have a nutritionist, trainer and coach; you have certain permissible reluctances in goal setting because the support group fills in the motivational and directional gaps, however most of us embark on weight loss as an individual and not a starting quarter back. Clearly and realistically define your weight loss goal; for example “I will lose 1 lb of body fat every week for the next 5 weeks”. This may sound silly, but write your goal down, post it on the fridge if need be, read it every day, remind yourself what you set out to do, and remember when it comes to weight loss, long term diligence is always better than single day efforts.
We all grew up with the mentality three square meals a day is how it should be. If you are happy with your current weight, you are healthy, and this is working for you, by all means keep it up. However, if fat loss is your goal you need to increase the number of meals you eat in a day. By now most people have heard or read that we need to eat fewer calories than we burn in order to lose weight, this still holds true with more meals, each meal simply has less calories. Try to aim for 5 to 6 meals per day. This can be daunting at first, but the trick is to prepare ahead of time. Cook enough lean protein, vegetables and good quality carbohydrates in bulk and separate them into individual meals for the next 3 days. The science behind multiple meals is straight forward, and many great gurus have the market covered. Do your research and convince yourself that eating more frequently is the key to jump starting your metabolism.
Eating fewer calories is a start, eating the right kind of calories is the trick. Every meal should contain a portion of lean protein; otherwise you risk cannibalizing lean muscle for the sake of being skinny. If you recall in the goal setting section, the example goal was NOT to lose 1 lb a week for the next 5 weeks, but 1 lb of fat for the next five weeks. This is a critical point; most people get hung up on what the bathroom scale says, learn to measure your fat percentage instead of your overall weight. Newer scales, fat calipers with an index or even professional assessment are all options for measuring your body fat. Lean protein is required for maintaining lean muscle. On a calorie reduced diet there is very little chance you will gain lean muscle, however you want to maintain whatever lean muscle you have. Additionally, lean muscle burns calories, the more you have the more you burn. Don’t forget to vary your foods to get all the different vitamins and minerals your body needs. Those same gurus who talk about meal frequency will also tell you about the proportion of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to eat. Start out with 30% – 50% – 20%, you may need to vary it up depending on how your individual body reacts. There is no one magic ratio, everyone is unique. The most important advice any nutritionist will give you whether it be for fat loss, muscle building or just maintaining is DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
There are many supplements, and just as many advertisements for supplements. Some are effective at helping you burn fat and some are not. The ones that work generally have stimulants such as caffeine as their active ingredients. For short term use this may be helpful, however for long term health you want to avoid extensive use of stimulants of any kind. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your morning cup of coffee or tea. The trend to supplement diets with essential fatty acids is a good one. Try to introduce foods with naturally occurring Omega 3, 6 and 9 such as olive oil, seeds and nuts. Many good products are also available that provide a good ratio of essential fatty acids in a ready serving.
Something, anything, just do it. To burn calories by just sitting around is not the most effective way of loosing fat. Jog, stretch, walk, lift weights, and clean the house, anything to keep you active. Ideally you want to warm up to burn all those calories stuck in your muscle in the form of glycogen, then kick it up a notch for 20 to 30 minutes every day to start digging into your fat stores for energy. Lifting weights is extremely beneficial, remember lean muscle burns calories.
This may sound redundant, measure your body fat on a regular weekly frequency and write it down. In effect; the date, your body weight and the percentage of body fat should be the variables you record.
Change it up
Okay, so you’ve been maintaining your high meal frequency, counting your calories, going for your morning jog and afternoon cardio session and all of a sudden you aren’t getting any more results. This is absolutely normal, and usually the point when people get frustrated and give up. The solution isn’t to give up, but change it up. The human body is an incredible creation; it is not a linearly functioning machine but a highly sensitive dynamically adaptive organism. Your body recognizes that you are using more calories than you are eating so it naturally slows your metabolism to help you survive that long winter of scarceness. Since we aren’t living in the stone ages, and we don’t want our body to conserve fat, we can trick our body by increasing our caloric intake from time to time. Every 3 to 5 days eat 10% more calories than you need in a day, so your body doesn’t think its starving. It also doesn’t hurt to add another cardio session here and there.
So remember, set a realistic goal with a time frame and numbers in mind, increase your meal frequency, eat those lean proteins, drink plenty of water, exercise and don’t let your body think its starving and you will improve your weight loss success. Good luck and stay healthy.