Discalimer: I am not a medical doctor. If you have a pre-existing medical condition pertaining to your diet and health, consult a doctor prior to attempting the steps outlined in this article.
Hours upon hours spent in the gym on cardio, weight lifting, aerobics, etc. and yet still no weight loss! Sound familiar? While exercise is an important part to the weight loss journey, many forget to properly account for the diet side of things. The latter amounts for 60+% of any body composition related goals and the success therein.
Before we get into the method, let’s set down a couple ground rules that will maximize how well this works for you.
- Be honest with yourself – if you snack on nuts, for example, during the day and don’t count them towards your caloric total because “it’s not that much”, or “it’s not a full meal”, you’re really just cheating yourself.
- Stay active – just because you are going to be eating less than normal doesn’t mean you can slack off at or outside of the gym. If you normally walk to work, and then you start driving everywhere instead, your daily burn will obviously be lower.
- Know how to be flexible – many times, I will see diets fail as a result of one small slip up that quickly snowballs. You went out for lunch and ate more food than usual… big deal! Eat less for the rest of the day; which brings me to my next point.
- USE COMMON SENSE. Eating a salad at some point during the week will not automatically void the rest of the food you’ve eaten. At the end of the day, your body compares how much energy (calories) go in vs. how much go out (expended in day to day life as well as in the gym) – you can’t cheat your body.
With that being said, the first step to the method is possible the hardest one for most people to adhere to.
- Sign up for an online diet tracker/calorie counter – free sites such as MyFitnessPal, MyNetDiary, and SparkPeople all have apps for Android and iOs as well as websites if you prefer to use your desktop. Having access to a food diary at all times makes it very easy to stay on track.
- Track all of the food that you eat and drink – for the next 3 consecutive days, input everything that you consume (yes, alcohol too) into your food diary. Can’t find an exact food when you’re eating out? Not a worry; simply break the food down. A burger is just a bun, condiments (mayo, ketchup, etc), lettuce, tomato, and ground beef.
- Know your numbers – once you’ve logged and have your data, it’s time to create some averages. The 4 items you need to pay attention to are (in order of importance) calories, protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Calculate your 3 day averages for each of those data points. Once you have these in place, it’s time to analyze.
- Analysis – have you maintained your weight on what your day to day diet looks like? Are you slowly gaining weight? This should be your first set of questions. If you have been maintaining your weight on your current diet, simply take 500 calories off the top (if you were eating 2500, then your new diet is now at 2000 calories per day) for 1lb a week of weight loss. Everything after this point is completely optional but will generally lead to safer and more successful weight loss.
- Proteins and Fats – minimums for athletic individuals (that’s you), for protein is about 0.8g/lb of BW, and 0.45g/lb of BW for fats. These are the two most important macronutrients because they will ensure that you lose exclusively fat by holding on to your lean mass, and maintain a healthy hormonal profile, respectively.
Tips and Tricks
- Sticking to whole foods (whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, etc) will generally help with making sure you don’t go hungry – a 6oz steak and a poptart have the same calories. This also helps with staying healthy by giving you a multitude of vitamins and minerals to work with.
- measuring portions can be difficult without a scale, so learning to eyeball is an invaluable skill. Portion measuring tips can be found here.
- If you are following all of the above rules, and still not losing weight after a week or two, reduce calories a further 300 calories per day.
- Don’t be afraid
So that’s it! A simple, yet effective guide on how to go about losing weight. Remember to combine your diet with an exercise program fitted to your needs, and stay patient – results don’t happen overnight! My clients that have had the biggest successes are the ones I’ve worked with for the longest.