Salad. Egg whites. Fruits. Veggies. Lean meats. This is what people think of when it comes to a healthy diet. True, a healthy diet does consist of all of these items, however even if this is all your diet consisted of, it doesn’t guarantee weight loss. I know, you probably want to throw something at me right now…
Many people struggle with weight loss and don’t understand what they are doing wrong. They’re eating all of the right things, cutting out all of the junk, exercising… and still no results. Well first of all, congratulations for establishing healthy habits, and secondly, don’t give up, this could be a simple fix.
Let’s say for example you start your day with some fruit and plain non-fat yogurt, a salad for lunch, and chicken, broccoli and rice for dinner. Sounds pretty good, right? Well it is, however, it doesn’t sound like much, does it? If this sounds something like you, you’re probably not eating enough.
It’s common to think that less calories = more weight loss. Unfortunately, our body is a fickle beast and you have to find the right balance of eating less but not too much less. As I have mentioned in other posts, your body is designed for survival, not to look nice. So if you are not feeding it the proper nutrients, it is going to hold on to what it needs to in order to survive. Simply put, we are playing Goldilocks with nutrition.
So what’s the trick? You need to keep your body in an anabolic state (muscle building). I’ve frequently mentioned before that the more lean muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism will be. In order to maintain that muscle mass, you need to prevent your body from entering a catabolic (muscle breakdown) state which requires an adequate amount of protein in the diet.
An “adequate” amount of protein is going to be different for everyone, depending on your size and body composition. However, a general rule of thumb is to make sure you consume around 20 grams of protein with each meal, and to eat consistently throughout the day; about every 2-3 hours.
Forget about intermittent fasting, macros, or calorie counting for a second. These are all tricks that can be helpful to your weight loss, but having a solid understanding of basic healthy eating principles is necessary to have before introducing anything else. You wouldn’t start furnishing a house without a solid structure would you?
If you make sure that you eat about every 2-3 hours, with proper portion sizes and balanced meals, you will begin to see results. Protein should be your first area of concern. Think of it as the basement to a house. Once that is done you can build upon it. So you’ve decided on your protein source, then choose your carbs, add a non-starchy vegetable, and a small serving of healthy fats and you are good to go.
I’ve mentioned this meal breakdown before, so if you’re new here you can read my post about losing weight without measuring all of your foods here. Although, if you are a beginner I do recommend weighing and measuring your foods, especially fats. Fasts are so calorically dense it’s easy to misjudge portions and sky rocket your calorie consumption.
If you are eyeballing portion sizes, for each of your meals you want approximately a palm sized portion of protein, a closed fist size of starch (carbs) and a closed fist size of non starchy vegetables. You want to do this for every meal. The exception to this rule is the very last meal of the day. If you find that you are getting hungry late at night try eliminating carbs from your last meal; stick to protein and veggies. You could easily make your last meal a protein shake and call it a day. Blend it with some almond milk and ice and it’s like dessert. Note: if you choose a protein shake as your last meal, try to stay away from whey protein isolates which are fast digesting; look for something like this whey/casein blend* that digests more slowly and will continue to provide you with nutrients throughout the night.
There’s a lot of information on the internet and it can be overwhelming. Keeping things simple will make it easier for you to stick to this lifestyle and develop healthy habits. As you advance in your journey you can add some tricks along the way and see how your body responds. Don’t get discouraged with plateaus, there’s always something you can change!
Are you eating enough?
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