Our coaching process with nutrition for our clients starts with a 3 Day Dietary Record, so we can gain insight into your habits and see everything that you put into your body. Then we look at how to start making changes. We borrow many resources from Precision Nutrition, and take no credit for them.
Fat Loss Mistakes:
- Following strict and extreme diets that cut out whole food groups or excessively restrict calories are not great for long term adherence or promoting lifestyle changes. These often “cool” or “trendy” diets come and go, because they are fads.
- Relying only on willpower. Your environment will always trump your willpower. If you come home at the end of a long day of work, and there is nothing good in the fridge, you are set up for failure.
- Believing that fat loss is impossible or that there is “stubborn fat” . Fat will stay around as long as you feed it. If you eat too much food or excessive carbs and added sugars, you’re going to feed the fat.
- Getting distracted by different methods. Is 6 meals a day better than 3? Should I avoid food after dinner? There is no perfect recipe for fat loss. What matters most is quantity and quality of the foods you eat.
Fat Loss Made Easy:
- You need to make one small, easy change at a time with your food for long term results. If you can master one change at a time, there is an 80% chance that you will maintain that for a year or longer. If you try two or more changes at a time, the likelihood of maintaining those changes drops to only 35%.
- You need to do resistance training. Resistance training makes you stronger, if you are stronger, you have more muscle, if you have more muscle, you raise your metabolism and burn more fat at rest. Traditional cardio has its place as well, helping you create a negative energy balance, but that won’t build lean muscle.
- Have a plan:
- Shop ahead of time.
- Prepare food ahead of time.
- Eat that food and skip the drive-thru!
- Quantity of food matters. Portion out your food according to the hand method. If you overeat, you will be sluggish and it can ruin your workout.
- Quality of food matters. Eat whole foods over packaged foods. Eat lean proteins over fattier proteins. Hot dogs are not lean sources of protein.
- Eat mindfully. Be more aware of your habits. Ask yourself if you are eating because you are actually hungry, or if you are eating out of boredom or emotionally eating?
- Eat slowly. If you eat too fast, the signals from your stomach that tell your brain that you are full act slowly through hormone signals. They aren’t instantaneous like nerve impulses.
- Drink lots of water. Sometimes you feel hungry because you are actually dehydrated. Water is also essential to many processes in the body and is a leading culprit of muscle cramps.
We like to take a simple approach with our clients when it comes to nutrition. Counting calories and logging your food are not long-term habits. Those methods are great for awareness and insight into your nutrition habits, but for lasting lifestyle changes, the more simple, the better.
We like to use the hand method that you can take with you where ever you go. Here are two charts, one for women, and one for men. It’s easy to learn and memorize.
The hand method is only a starting point, everyone is different. If you still feel hungry after a meal, you may need to increase your portion of protein, fat, or carbohydrates. Most people will feel more full if they increase the amount of protein they eat. If that doesn’t do the trick, ask yourself:
- Do I feel more full when I eat a meal that is mostly carbs?
- Do I feel more full when I eat a meal that is mostly fats?
- Do I feel more full when I eat a meal that is mostly balanced?
You may need to increase your intake of carbs, fats, or a little bit more food from each category.
Once you know how to use the hand method, here is a chart with examples of protein, carbohydrate, and fat dense foods that you can plug and play into your plan.
|Food type||Protein dense foods|
|Food timing||Eaten with each meal|
|Food amount||1 serving for women (size of palm)
2 servings for men (size of two palms)
|Food type||Saturated Fat||Monounsaturated Fat||Polyunsaturated Fat|
|Food timing||No specific timing*||No specific timing*||No specific timing*|
|Food amount||⅓ of fat intake||⅓ of fat intake||⅓ of fat intake|
|Examples||Animal fats (in eggs, dairy, meats, butter, cheeses, etc.)
|Macadamia, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, tahini, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, olives, olive oil, avocado||Fish oil, hemp seeds, algae oils, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts, canola oil, soy nuts, walnuts, flax seeds, flax oil, chia seeds, Brazil nuts|
* Meals higher in carbohydrate should be lower in fat, and vise versa. Therefore if eating a higher carbohydrate post-exercise meal, fat intake should be lower. Conversely, with a higher-fat meal outside of the “exercise window”, carbohydrate portion should be relatively smaller.
For those consuming less food overall and/or consuming a plant-based diet, getting more fat from whole food sources (like olives, nuts, seeds) instead of refined sources (olive oil, nut oil, seed oil) will provide more protein and fiber.
Carbohydrate Chart for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain
|Food type||Exercise recovery drink||Simple sugars and highly processed starches||Whole-food, minimally processed starchy carbohydrates||Fruits and vegetables|
(for muscle gain)
|During and after exercise||Immediately after exercise (if at all)**||Eat soon (within 3 hours) after exercise***||Eaten with each meal|
(for fat loss)
|During exercise only*||Minimize intake||Eat soon (within 1-2 hours) after exercise||Eaten with each meal (with emphasis on veggies)|
|Examples||Sugary, protein-rich recovery drinks||Sugary sports drinks
Other carb rich snacks
|Bread (sprouted grain or whole grain)
Pasta (whole grain or flax)
Rice (whole grain, unprocessed)
Cereal grains (wheat, rye, barley etc.)
*If you tolerate carbohydrates well, you can include such a drink during exercise. If you don’t, you should probably stick with water or a branched-chain amino acid workout drink.
**These food choices should be minimized yet are permissible after exercise for those with good carbohydrate tolerance and the goal of weight gain
***If you have good carbohydrate tolerance and a hard time gaining weight, you can include these foods throughout the rest of the day as well.
If you would like a print out version of this table, click on the link below.
When it comes to supplements, there are so many choices and not a lot of regulation. It’s always a smart idea to look for stamps on a label such as “GMP” or “NSF”. This will at least tell you that what the label says it is, is in the packaging, and that it was manufactured in a facility that meets good manufacturing practices.
Another thing to keep in mind with supplements is knowing what the research about it says and if it will actually help you. The supplements that I recommend and personally use are:
Juice Plus+ (or other powdered vegetables and fruit blends)
– Many health benefits from the plant nutrients they contain. Consider it an insurance policy to get enough nutrients that you might otherwise not get.
– Increasing your protein intake will help you spare your muscle when trying to lose weight, so that weight loss happens from fat loss, not muscle loss. It also helps you to build lean muscle.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
– It is recommended that we eat fish at least once a week, if you don’t, here’s a good way to get in the good fats you’re missing. There are many health benefits to taking this.
There are a lot of gimmicks out there, with wild claims of weight loss. If you read the fine print on the box or the part when the person in the radio ad starts talking really fast, you will find out that you have to eat right and exercise to see results. There is no magic pill.