Researching for this article I scrolled through dozens of articles titled something similar to, “the best diet of 2022, expert recommended”. Who are these experts? No one knows…🤪
Anyway, they list an exorbitant amount of diets. We have the Mediterranean diet, Noom, Weight Watchers, Vegan, the Dash diet, ornish diet, vegetarian diet, Mind diet, Nordic Diet, Flexitarian diet, Volumetrics diet, Intermittent Fasting, Keto diet, Mayo Clinic diet, Pescatarian diet, Paleo diet, Low Carb diet, the MIND diet.
I didn’t even realize HOW many diet options are out there! The crazy thing is that I know there’s more out there but my fingers got too tired of typing.
It’s no wonder that SO many women (and people) are confused about WHAT they should be eating in order to lose body fat or just to be healthy.
It does not need to be so confusing and complicated!
The ideal “diet” is something that YOU can do consistently.
With any “diet”, ask yourself, “will I realistically be able to sustain for the long term?”
If the answer is no, you need to rethink it.
In this article, I’m going to discuss some essential things when it comes to “dieting” for fat loss:
A calorie is a unit of measure. Everything you consume is made of calories. You can replace the word calorie with energy.
If you want to lose fat, you need to be in an energy or calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit is when you’re burning more energy (calories) than you’re taking in on a daily basis.
How do you create a calorie deficit?
You create the deficit by 1) decreasing your food intake and/or 2) increasing your cardiovascular activity.
We’re going to focus on options 1: Decreasing your food intake.
There are a few different ways you can go about it:
- You can track your calories for 3-5 days so you have an idea of how many calories you’re currently consuming. Start by dropping 250-500 calories from the average daily calories.
- Another options is to use an online calculator to determine your TDEE. (just google it) This will give you you’re maintenance calories based on your activity level, age, height, gender, and weight. You can subtract 250-500 from your maintenance to create a calorie deficit.
- Third option is to multiply your goal weight by 12. For example, let’s say you currently weigh 150lbs and your goal weight is 135lbs. 135×12=1620 calories.
With any of these options, do it for a few weeks and evaluate and adjust from there.
Make sure you aren’t cutting your calories too drastically–this can be harder to sustain and can cause more anxiety and stress. That’s why it is important to track your current intake to see how much you’re typically eating daily.
So it seems simple. Consume less calories than your burning and you’ll lose fat. And it is pretty simple, but it can be hard.
The good news is, there are ways to make it easier for you.
In this next section we’re going to review macronutrients.
Let’s say you have a 2,000 daily calorie goal, technically you could eat 2,000 calories worth of junk food and still be in a deficit. However, you aren’t going to feel super great.
Those food choices most likely won’t help your fitness and muscle building goals.
I’m not a fan of eliminating food in order to lose fat. Obviously if there’s an allergy or something directed by your doctor, follow the advice of your doctor.
Eliminating or restricting food typically creates a bad relationship with eating food and the success rate is much lower.
If you love chocolate, you can still eat chocolate. We have pizza at my house every friday night and you bet that I’m stilling eating it even when I’m on a cut.
You can enjoy the foods you love while being in a calorie deficit.
The goal is to fill the majority of your calories with nutrient dense food and enjoy the less nutrient dense foods in moderation.
Macronutrients, or ‘macros’, consist of 3 categories:
Each macronutrient is important and serves a purpose in nourishing your body. I go into more detail in this article but I’m going to give you a brief overview.
Protein builds, sustains, and repairs your muscles. This is SUPER important for fat loss because the more muscle you have, the more efficiently your body will burn calories while at rest. Lean body mass will also make you look more toned and give your muscles a good shape. 💪🏼
Protein also has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF) which means that your body is burning more calories to process, absorb, and digest protein. That’s pretty cool!
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns. Protein helps build and sustains muscle. Protein is king. 👑
Fat is often demonized, especially when I was growing up in the 80s/90s. Everything was “low-fat” or “fat-free”.
However, eating dietary fat does not make you fat! (Eating too many calories does.)
Dietary fat helps regulate hormones, can help you feel full for longer, and let’s be honest, it makes food taste pretty good.
Carbohydrates also get a bad rap, but they are not bad, they are necessary. Carbs are a source of fuel.
If you want to build muscles and exercise and have energy, you need carbs.
How much of each macronutrient should you consume?
Everyone is different, but I personally like to track just calories, protein, and fiber. However, you can also track your fat and carbs if you’d like.
Here is a general guideline:
Protein: aim for .7-1.2 grams per pound of body weight. I like to keep it simple and just multiply my weight or goal weight by 1.
Fat: .3-.5 grams per pound of body weight
Carbohydrates: .5-2 grams per pound of body weight
If you don’t want to track macros or calories, try this:
- Eat 1 palm sized amount of protein with each meal
- Eat 2 handfuls of veggies with every meal
- Avoid super processed foods–choose nutrient dense foods most of the time
- Stop eating after 7pm or some predetermined time. A lot of the food we consume after this time is processed and more snacky type food. Your eating more out of habit as you watch tv, etc. rather than because you’re hungry.
- Don’t eat in front of the tv, computer or phone. Eliminate distractions so you can be more in tune with your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
Strength Training and Cardio
Strength training is important when it comes to fat loss.
Remember when we talked about how protein builds and maintains muscle? And the more muscle you have the more calories your body burns?
In order to build muscle, you need to strength train!
I have a whole article about strength training vs. cardio. Check it out here.
You can definitely burn more calories during a cardio workout compared to a strength training workout, but that’s only *during* the workout.
Strength training will have you burning more calories throughout the day.
The more muscle mass you have vs. fat, the faster your metabolism will be. Or the more calories your body will burn when at rest.
Strength training = increased lean muscle mass = higher metabolic rate = more calories burned.
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more you gain, the more calories you’ll burn – and the more likely you are to keep fat off. Dr Leigh Breen
If you’re trying to lose weight and be in a calorie deficit, this will help you out a lot!
Strength training also improves bone health, improves confidence, helps you get that toned look, and gets you stronger! 💪🏼
I recommend 3-4 days of strength training, hitting the major muscle groups twice a week. The quality of your strength training program is important as well.
It should be targeted towards accomplishing your specific goals and include progressive overload. This when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of reps.
“So wait, I don’t need to run everyday to lose fat??”
Absolutely not! I do recommend cardio for health reasons, but this isn’t the only thing you should be doing. And if you don’t like running, you don’t need to. You can walk, do the elliptical, bike, or swim. Go on a hike. There are other options out there.
A lot of the fad diets are short term. They aren’t something you can sustain longterm.
If you’re goal is to lose fat and keep it off long-term, the best way to achieving that goal is to do it in a gradual, consistent, and sustainable way.
That doesn’t sound glamorous or appealing to someone who just wants to lose weight FAST, but I think most people would want to keep the weight off long-term.
Consistency doesn’t mean perfection. In fact, I do not want you to be perfect.
Grab a calendar. For every day you hit your calorie/macro goals, but an ‘X’. For any day you don’t hit your goal, put an ‘O’. I want you to aim for 80% consistency.
In a month of 30 days, the goal would be to hit your goal for 24 of those days. That means you have 6 days where you don’t need to be *perfect*. I don’t recommend going on a binge those days, but it’s okay to eat slightly more than your deficit!
With that said, you aren’t meant to be in a calorie deficit forever. Eventually you’ll want to move into a maintenance phase.
The time your in a calorie deficit will change person to person based on the amount you’re trying to lose, how aggressive you are with it, etc.
It can be anywhere from 4 weeks to 12 weeks or more.
After 6 weeks, re-evaluate and decide if you want to keep going and make any adjustments if necessary.
A general guideline is to (1) figure out how many pounds you want to lose. (2) figure out how many pounds of fat you can lose per week on average without losing muscle. For most people this is between 0.5-1% of their body weight per week. (3) Divide the total number of pounds you need to lose by your weekly rate of weight loss. This will tell you how many week you should spend in a calorie deficit in order to reach your goal.
Susie wants to lose 10lbs. She currently weighs 150lbs and she’s losing 1lb/week.
10/1 = 10 weeks
Frank wants to lose 50lbs. He currently weighs 250lbs and he’s losing 2lbs/week.
These are just guidelines and they don’t account for burnout, how you’re doing emotionally/mentally, etc. so I do advise to evaluate every 4-6 weeks and adjust as needed based on your goals and situation.
For example, I’m currently in a “mini-cut”. This is a short term fat loss phase (4-6 weeks) when you want to drop little bit of body fat.
I’m not doing anything drastic. I’m going to eat in a calorie deficit, hit a daily protein and fiber goal, continue training as normal with a combination of strength training and cardio. I’m going to hit 10k steps a day and get to bed no later than 10.
After 4-6 weeks I’m going to re-evaluate and either continue on or go into a maintenance phase. I’m only trying to lose 7-8lbs.
In summary, there isn’t ONE diet that works for everyone. There are a lot of fad diets out there I’d watch out for. It doesn’t need to be so confusing and intimidating.
My recommendation is so steer clear of fad diets (especially juice cleanses 😝) and focus on eating in a calorie deficit, while tracking macros or filling your calories with mostly nutrient dense foods.
I truly hope this helps!
Email me or fill out the form below if you have any questions! I hope you have a great day!!
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