Before we get to our 3 simple steps, a quick review: in last week’s post, we discussed some of the limitations of exercise for fat loss. The bottom line was that unless you have multiple hours per day to dedicate to movement and exercise, you simply won’t burn enough calories to be effective. One last word on the subject – the more you perform a certain exercise, the more efficient you become at it. Efficiency means you expend less energy to do the same work. In other words, exercise isn’t great for fat loss to begin with, and it becomes worse for it over time.
So, moving on, what then, is the solution? NUTRITION! Changing what we put IN to our bodies is easier to adjust than trying to burn more. The most challenging part of it is when we try to cut foods out of our diets and restrict our intake. For many of us, as soon as we tell ourselves that we CAN’T have something, we crave it. This makes compliance difficult.
Instead, we need to focus on adding foods IN to our diet. Here’s 3 simple steps to follow with every meal:
- Eat the rainbow! What does this mean? Add in some colored vegetables or fruits. Leafy greens are great but might not be appealing for breakfast. Fruits and other vegetables (like peppers and tomatoes) are good options here.
- Add a protein source! Whether it’s eggs, meat, poultry, fish, a protein shake, or a vegan/vegetarian option like lentils or quinoa, make sure you have some kind of protein with each meal.
- Drink water! This should be done throughout the day, but mealtime is a great time to get in at least a glass. Your daily goal to start should be ½ of your bodyweight in ounces. If you weight 200 lbs, your goal is 100 oz of water per day.
If you focus on veggies, protein, and water, there’s a good chance your hunger will be sated. You’ll be less hungry for junk food and treats, filling up on more nutritious food first. If you want to finish a meal with a little dessert, that’s fine. But you’re less likely to eat a massive quantity.
Once you master these 3 simple steps, you can get a little more advanced. If you want to try to adhere to macros, or practice intermittent fasting, or use some other dietary practice, so be it. But, those strategies are advanced and should not be your focus until you’ve got veggies, protein, and water down pat.
Why does this method work? You’re likely to cut down on calorically dense food as a byproduct, because you’ll already be full. In other words, you’ll eat the same VOLUME of food, so your stomach will still be full. However, there will be fewer calories in that food. Additionally, last week we mentioned the thermic effect of food last week. Eating more protein means using more calories to break down that protein, so your net caloric absorption is less. Also, veggies have lots of nutrients, but not a lot of calories. Water can fill you up but contains no calories. So, in addition to consuming fewer calorically dense foods, you’re also consuming more low calorie foods. It’s a twofer! These practices can result in significant decreases to caloric intake, which is the primary driver of fat loss. Again, master the basics first, and then you can play with other dietary strategies. Keep up the exercise for other health benefits, but don’t conflate it with fat burning technique.
Need help with your nutrition? You’re in luck! We’re starting our “Moving Beyond Macros” nutrition challenge in just a few weeks! You can sign up for it here!