A very, very important factor in fat loss is diet. In fact, it might be the MOST important. You cannot out train, or out exercise, a bad diet. These are my top tips for cleaning up your diet to maximize fat loss.
Is Diet or Exercise More Important for Fat Loss?
In my opinion..it’s 60/40. 60% of fat loss is from diet while 40% is from exercise. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is still a very important aspect of fat loss, but it is not AS important. Without exercise, you cannot build muscle. And if you don’t build muscle your body won’t increase muscle mass and therefore you are not optimizing the amount of calories you could burn at rest.
On the other hand, you cannot eat whatever/whenever/however much food you want to and expect to lose weight, even if you exercise for hours a day. The body will plateau, because it can only burn so many calories before your anabolic threshold begins to rise, and in turn you will stop burning fat. Not to mention your metabolism will begin to slow down and you’re body won’t be able to keep up. And then internal stress and hormones come into play and it all gets messy.
The important thing I tell people that are first starting a fat loss journey, is to start with diet. Start making daily changes in what you eat before you throw exercise into the mix. If you try to do too much at once it won’t be a lifestyle change; instead you’ll get overwhelming and give up a lot earlier. The balance between diet and exercise is a vicious cycle and it is important to find the right variables and balance for you.
Do I Focus on What Kind of Food or How Much Food for Fat Loss?
Again, both are very important, it just depends on your personality and which route you want to take.
If you were looking more at how much food you should consume, most people would say to look at calories in vs calories out. If you are consuming less calories in a day than you are burning off (from daily body functions and exercise) you are likely to lose weight. But at some point this will cause a plateau because your metabolism will slow down and you will not be able to cut enough calories to still successfully lose weight.
If you are looking at what kinds of food, nutrient dense foods are going to allow you to burn fat over sugary/fake foods. If you eat the same amount of calories in two different days..yet one day you eat all whole foods (fruits/vegetables/meat/oils etc) and another day you eat all processed foods, your body is going to work better on whole foods.
Starting out on a fat loss journey I would first look at how much food you eat. If you are consuming A LOT of food (upwards of 500kcals over what you burn, I would first start out by lowering your intake. Take a meal out, or decrease the size of the meals. If you are eating too little (upwards of 500kcals less than what you burn), I would start adding in a meal or shrinking your meals and eating more frequently.
Once those are balanced I would start looking into the kinds of food you eat. Slowly eliminate foods your body does not crave, or thrive, off of. The body is meant to process whole/nutrient dense foods. So if you begin to take out the cookies, pasta, pizza, soda etc, your body will slowly start to reward you by dropping excess body fat. These days our food is so over-processed to taste good that it has very little nutritional value. And if we are constantly eating foods with little nutritional value, our insides/bodies start to slow down and become sluggish because we aren’t getting the proper nutrients we need to fully function.
Again, it all comes down to slow/small changes. You cannot do it all at once. Everything needs to be broken down. So first it’s a balance of how much food, then what kind of food, and then how much exercise, and then what kind of exercise. It’s a puzzle, a strategic game. Won only by those who figure out the balance of key components.
The What, When, How Much in Terms of Diet for Fat Loss
WHAT: Foods to eliminate
When looking to lose body fat, you need to dive deeper into what kinds of foods to eat. It is also important to look at what your body best runs on, carbs or fats? This can be determined by lowering one and raising the other and keeping track of day to day weight/feelings/images. Everyone is different when it comes to this, so just because Joe Shmoe lost weight on a low-carb diet doesn’t necessarily mean you will!
My biggest advice is to eat whole, healthy foods. Here is a list of foods to try and eliminate from your diet for best results (and well being):
—Fake sweeteners/fillers (anything you can’t pronounce)
—Juice (with added sugars)
—Anything with “food” or “product” on it
—Refined sugars (donuts, cakes, pies etc)
—Refined grains (cereals, pastas, crackers, chips, pizza etc)
—Be careful of grains, as they are now processed differently and our bodies have a hard time using them
—Farmed/grain raised fish/animals
—Fat-free and low-fat dairy
—Canned foods with added sugar/salt/coloring/chemicals
—“Protein” bars with 2398429 ingredients
—“Low calorie” or “low carb” foods, most likely to have added chemicals/flavors
—Roasted nuts (you want RAW because the roasting process can take out the nutrients
There is more where that came from! I know it seems like a lot, but you don’t have to do it all tomorrow. And you don’t have to NEVER have it again. It is just a good place to start and slowly work towards removing. Always think whole foods and be VERY mindful of ingredients!
Yes, you can in fact eat past 8pm. But only if you didn’t start eating at 4am….joking.
There is a lot of questions and concerns around what time you can eat. My advice, eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat every 3 hours because google said to. And don’t starve yourself if it’s past 8pm because google said you get fat late at night.
Weight gain is only caused by eating after 8pm because of the TYPE of food. Those who late night snack aren’t grabbing celery and eggs. They are grabbing cookies, ice cream, fruits; foods that are high in calories/sugar. If you ate those at 8am, it could also cause weight gain.
Everyone is different when it comes to timing of your meals, it’s all based on personal preference.
If you stay up late and find yourself hungry in the evenings, I would recommend waiting to eat your first morning meal and then eating closer to bedtime. I don’t typically like to eat 2 hours before bed because it tends to keep me awake, but not everyone is like that.
You may want to maximize your workouts and lifts by eating the bulk of your carbs before and after your workout! This can help to refeed the muscle glycogen you broke down during training.
You may night like to eat late at night, so I would eat earlier in the day to make sure you aren’t under-eating due to lack of calories consumed later in the day.
I like to eat within a 12 hour (or shorter) time frame. This is best for me because I then don’t feel like I am eating all day or on a schedule, and it doesn’t cut me off early. Researchers have said our metabolism enzymes are only active for a certain number of hours eat day, so if we eat outside that time period we could be storing extra calories as fat.
So my advice: eat within 12 hour window, bulk your carbs around your workout, eat when you’re hungry, late night snack on healthier options and drink a lot of water!
HOW MUCH: Portion Control
Dun. Dun. Duuuuuuuun. This seems to be a big problem for a lot of people. Whether it’s because we:
Fill up our plate too much..
Don’t know how to listen to satiety cues.
Don’t want to waste food.
It tastes so good we can’t make ourselves stop.
There are A LOT of reasons we tend to overeat, so let’s talk correct portions.
If you don’t know how to stop eating with food on your plate, try using a smaller plate. We are visual people, and usually our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. So if we use a smaller plate, or don’t fill it up as much, we are likely to eat less and not go up for seconds.
It can be difficult to know when you are full. So slow yourself down and take breaks. If you are getting to the point of discomfort, you have gone too far. You only want to eat until you are content, and not beyond that.
We cannot waste food if we don’t put it on our plate. And if we are at a restaurant we can always take it to go. Don’t stuff yourself full because you want to be part of the “clean plate club”.
This one takes a lot to work on. Yes, it tastes AMAZING and we want to eat it all. But if we eat it all we regret it later when we need to be rolled out the door. It isn’t until we have learned that we would rather FEEL good than TASTE good. Go by feelings and fuel, not by taste and emotions!
Proper portions of your plate: ½ veggies, ¼ protein, ¼ healthy fats/grains.
4oz of protein is the size of your palm.
1 cup of is about the size of your fist; for veggies/fruits
1tbsp is the size of the tip of your thumb; for nut butters/cheese
1tsp is the size of your fingertip; for butter/oil
1oz is a small cupped handful; for nuts/fruits
Fat loss can only be obtained through a healthy diet and exercise. Don’t try to do too much at once; narrow things down and focus on small changes adding up to big results. You want things to be a sustainable, lifestyle change. If you start with simplifying your diet and work towards exercise, you will have the best results! Think about what, when and how much when it comes to food…and then add in exercise once you have mastered those! If you are looking for more information about macronutrients, or fat loss you can visit our blog here! And don’t forget, just 7 more days to sign up for my January JumpStart Fitness Challenge. Giving you workouts, nutrition guidelines and much more to help you start the New Year on the right track!