Friday Fitness Tip – Get Your Diet on Track!

Get Your Diet on Track!

People are always asking me for “simple tips” to get their diet on track so they can lose anywhere from 2 to 50lbs. I thought I would use today’s post as a chance to put together a few tips that will help you be successful in your fat loss quest.

1) Decide on a REASONABLE and MEASURABLE goal. This should always be the first step when making a plan because obviously you need to know where you are trying to go, and how you are going to determine if you’ve made it there. You could set a goal of losing a certain amount of body weight per week, or changing your body fat percentage by a certain amount every month – whatever you choose it needs to be something you are able to actually measure. The “reasonable” part is very important, because if you make your goals unrealistic you are just going to get frustrated. If you decide you want to lose 50lbs – don’t make that your immediate goal because you will just be overwhelmed, start with a goal of 5lbs – then once you achieve that work on another 5… and so on.

2) Eat frequent, smaller meals and make sure they contain protein!! Let me give you an example of a typical conversation I have about diet:

Person: “I need to lose 50lbs, but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong ‘cuz I eat really healthy.”

Me: “What does your diet look like?”

Person: “I wake up at 7, then I have a cup of coffee. Around noon I have a salad and some toast with butter. For a snack I have an apple, then for dinner I eat another salad with chicken and maybe have a bagel.”

Okay… can anyone point out what is wrong with that plan? It should be fairly easy because just about everything in that “diet” is wrong! First thing is that the body is “programmed” to hold onto body fat when it perceives a shortage of food, and to allow body fat to be burned when it perceives a surplus. In the above diet the body is going to be getting significantly less than it needs in terms of calories – so it is going to certainly be slowing down the metabolism and going into “Oh crap we’re starving” mode to hold on to as much body fat as possible. So the first problem is NOT ENOUGH FOOD. The second problem is not spacing the actual food out throughout the day. I personally prefer eating a meal every 3 hours or so – in the “old days” it was thought that this would “speed up” the metabolism, research has shown that it doesn’t really happen but it still makes sense to feed yourself nutrients frequently throughout the day.  This is something many people struggle with because after eating only 1-3 real meals in a day it is hard to get your brain wrapped around the idea of eating “so much” – honestly this is only hard for the first week. If you stick with it, you will find that you will be ready to eat every few hours. The final problem with this person (and this was a real conversation) is that there is virtually NO PROTEIN in the diet! Studies have support the fact that increased protein intake helps is beneficial for weight loss. The reason being that protein is harder for your body to break down to store as fat, and it also uses more energy to digest – which ultimately helps to get your body lean. EVERY meal you take in should contain some direct source of protein.

3) Make small changes, don’t change everything at once. For most people jumping from a 2 meal a day no protein all carb and fat diet plan into a high protein, 6 meal a day plan is going to be overwhelming. Start out by making small changes. Start by adding in 1-2 “snacks” between your meals – make it something with protein that is not very high in calories. Once you get used to that, start making your “meal” times smaller and your “snack times” bigger – until eventually you have roughly the same size meal at each time. Also start swapping out things like potato chips with some sort of vegetable you like – there are a lot of options, you’ll find one if you try. Before you know it you will be losing weight and feeling great.

4) Don’t skip meals! Once you start on a “frequent smaller meal” plan – don’t skip meals! You will find that you get hungry every 3 hours, as I mentioned earlier, and if you ignore that and just keep on going to your next meal time you are setting yourself up for trouble. I don’t mean that you are going to suddenly become a fatty boombalatty – but when it comes time for your next meal you will almost certainly end up overeating.

5) Eat something if you are hungry. If your meal schedule is “every 3 hours” and you find yourself hungry at 2 and a half hours – eat your next meal! You shouldn’t have to feel like you are starving to lose weight. You are not going to ruin your plan if you have a meal 30-45 minutes ahead of schedule – just adjust the timing of the next meals and you’ll be fine. If you are “starving” and it has only been an hour – have a small protein rich snack (some beef jerky, a small protein shake, a small piece of chicken, etc) and then stick to your normal schedule. If that is happening regularly – you need to change your diet plan because there is no reason you should be sitting around feeling hungry all day long.

6) Don’t weigh yourself every day!! A HUGE mistake people make when dieting is becoming obsessed with the numbers on the scale – this leads to them weighing in every day or every other day, then getting disappointed when they aren’t seeing big changes. The big problem there is that fat loss is a slow process – you SHOULDN’T see more than 2-4 lbs per week coming off if you are following a sensible diet. If you are weighing yourself every day you are going to be very disappointed very quickly because you won’t see big changes. If you weigh in once a week at the same time of day you will have a much better gauge of your progress. I personally weigh in on Sunday mornings before I take a shower or eat any food. That keeps things consistent and it allows enough time between weigh ins for a change to actually happen.

Alright… there you go – a few diet ideas that hopefully will help get you on track with your diet and fitness plan.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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