6 Point Strategy to Improve Your Weight Loss Diet Plan
In fact, most people need to eat more of certain foods in order lose fat.
If you're a gym rat with some years under your belt in the iron game, you understand that you need more high-quality protein during a calorie deficit to retain lean muscle mass. You also know that employing an appropriate calorie deficit while tracking your macros is a a darn near fail-proof way to burn fat without turning into a malnourished kitten along the way.
Related: 9 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Fat
It wouldn't surprise me either if you have back pocket full of swaps and alternatives to bump up total food volume to keep you sated. It's likely that you have your snacking under control and you have some type of social support keeping you on track.
However, for the newbie or chronically frustrated, these things aren't commonplace. If that sounds like you, you've come to the right place.
We're going to teach you six strategies that the people with the best bodies use all the time.
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How to Improve Your Weight Loss Diet Plan
1. Understanding calorie deficitsCutting your calories faster than someone running like they just escaped from prison can work. It'll send you into a severe deficit and yes, you'll lose weight. But it comes with a cost.
Muscle loss is inevitable during a fat loss phase. However, when the calorie deficit is too aggressive and employed too quickly, you lose more muscle then you have to.
The problem is that all to often people just pick an arbitrary number to cut their calories by (or dip to a maximum number of calories they can eat per day). For example, you might hear someone say, "I'm going to cut my calories by 500 per day," or "I'm only going to eat 1,800 calories per day."
But what are these numbers based on? Unfortunately, the approach is like picking lotto numbers.
Rather than shooting in the dark about your calorie deficit, use a sliding percentage scale of conservative, moderate and aggressive to arrive at a deficit.
Before you employ a calorie deficit, it's important to identify your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Once you find your TDEE, the second step is to make sure you've been eating at or above your TDEE for quite some time. If you have qualified, your hormones and metabolism are primed for a fat loss phase.
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If you've been under-eating, or dieting for as long as you can remember, you must reverse diet your way bak up to TDEE before you employ further calorie deficit. Instead of using arbitrary numbers to determine your diet, here is the scale you can use: ;
- 15-20% below maintenance calories = conservative
- 20-25% below maintenance calories = moderate deficit
- 25-30% below maintenance calories = aggressive deficit
- 31-40% below maintenance calories = very aggressive deficit
- 50+ below maintenance calories = harmful
If you're TDEE is 3,200 per day, and you've been eating at or above that level, a moderate deficit would put you at 2,600 per day (3,200 x 25% = 800 calories. 3,200 - 800= 2,600 calories per day).
2. Master your macrosWhen the word macros gets tossed around, it refers to proteins, carbs and fats. Understanding your calorie deficit is step one - the next step is figuring out what makes up that total intake.
Knowing how much protein, carbs and fats you need per day that total your calorie target is the next step to mastering the game of fat loss. Tracking your calories and macros is time-consuming and tedious - at times it feels as dull as dish water.
But, this practice equips you with the power to control your diet. It takes the guesswork out of dieting. Therefore, I always suggest that you count and track your macros - even if it's just for a season. By doing so, identifying protein, carbs and fats and eyeballing portion sizes will become second nature.
Every diet should be personal. But everyone has to start somewhere. Think of macronutrient ratios like sailing a ship. You start from the harbor and depending on conditions, you steer the ship dynamically - adjusting as needed to ensure you arrive at the end destination.
The general starting point for fat loss when it comes to macros is a 50/20/30 split. Meaning, 50% of your total daily intake will come from protein, 20% of your total daily intake will come from carbs and 30% of your total daily intake will come fats.
Using the same example from above, we'll use a total daily intake of 2,600 per day at a moderate deficit.
- Total daily intake = 2,600 per day
- Protein 2,600 x 50% = 1,300/4 (4 calories per gram of protein) = 325g
- Carbs 2,600 x 20% = 520/4 (4 calories per gram of protein) = 130g
- Fats 2,600 x 30% = 780/9 (9 calories per gram of fat) = 87g
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3. Identify alternativesIn a fat loss phase, a reduction of overall intake is critical. However, for most people the biggest struggle is consuming less carbohydrates.
It's important to note that I said consuming less and not eliminating. You don't have to cut out carbs to lose fat. But, you certainly won't be slamming down bear-claw apple critters like it's your job anymore.
In order to be successful with a fat loss diet, reducing intake of certain foods is only half the battle. The back-side is where the success lies - having a handful of alternatives to replace the foods your are reducing is where you win the battle.
This is beneficial on two accounts.
First, it allows you to increase food volume which helps you feel fuller and takes the edge of psychologically. Second, it bumps up your fiber intake - a critical ingredient during a fat loss phase.
Here are a few examples:
- Swap rice for cauliflower rice.
- Swap mash potatoes for mashed butternut squash.
- Swap pasta for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
- Swap table sugar with Stevia.
- Swap mayo with hummus or mashed avocado.
- Swap taco shells with leafy greens.
- Swap hamburger buns with portobello mushrooms.
4. Watch out for the mindless marginsI get it, you're busy.
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But we all are. And some people make fat loss work for them despite living at 100 mph. Therefore, we can't blame busyness.
The 1,000 calorie bombs are obvious - eating a whole pizza or polishing off a pint of ice cream in one attempt are things we all know are detrimental to fat loss. But it's in the mindless margins where we get pummeled.
The six hershey kisses in between meetings during the weekdays. The one-arm snacking while you hold the baby. The two cocktails you have during your business dinners. Your wife never finishes her food, so you clean up.
These things add up - but they're sneaky and we hardly ever notice them.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 37 percent of Americans' total daily calories come from sugar pumped drinks - juices, sports drinks, fancy coffee drinks. While these food items pack a lot of calories, they aren't nutrient dense and have little impact on your satiation. Therefore, you overeat.
Be mindful of the mindless margins. Take one week and track where you snack mindlessly - the extra glass of wine here, the snack-pack of Oreos there and the seemingly insignificant (the non-sugar free versions) energy drink you have everyday at 3 P.M all add up to stagnant fat loss progress. Or, worse yet, fat gain.
5. Get Social SupportYou wouldn't enter a completely new career without getting training about the job and position would you? Think of a first-time barista. He wouldn't walk into Starbucks on his first day and whip up every drink they had on the menu.
He would have a trainer take him threw the process of learning how to be a great barista. With time, guidance and his commitment to learning, he would grow into a barista with the skills to fly on his own.
Fat loss looks similar. However, newbies to the fat loss circus usually try to march alone. They enter the ring with no prior experience, tools or knowledge on where to start or how to proceed.
So they guess. To be fair, they do their best - but often, it's painfully wrong.
Have you ever tried to tackle a big fat loss gaol with no help only to look in the rear view mirror 16 weeks later and realize you've wasted a lot of time, effort and resources?
You're not alone. I've been there too.
This is exactly why getting help is important. A mentor or coach will provide the social support you need in order succeed at the fat loss game for three reasons:
- They will help you stay on track with workouts
- They keep you accountable on your diet
- They expedite the learning curve for you on how to lose fat
Avoid those potential drawbacks and leverage social support in your fat loss journey.
MTS Nutrition CEO Marc Lobliner discusses fasted cardio and fat loss.
6. Five Hour RuleI've seen a lot over the last 10 years in the fitness industry. From hands on training with clients to my own personal fitness journey, there isn't a shortage of how to advice on how to lose fat.
But the interesting thing is this: There isn't much of anything new in regards to fat loss. There is simply a handful of strategies and tactics that work every time.
One of those things is exercising. Now, it doesn't matter if you need to lose 11 pounds or 40 pounds, exercising is going to be in your approach.
Now, there are entire books written on strength training for fat loss - pigeon holing you into one or a few methodologies would be restrictive. Finding what type or style of training is up to you.
But regardless, you need to get moving - there's no room for negotiation there.
The back-side of this truth offers some usable, but often overlooked advice. You know strength training is the best tool for re-shaping your body, but how much do you need to do in order to be happy with your body?
Five hours per week seems to be the sweet spot.
A study done at the University of Wyoming showcased 1,500 people who exercised regularly. This group accumulated a minimum of five hours of exercise per week. This groups reported that they were far happier with their body composition in comparison to those who exercised less than five hours per week.
If you desire to train more than five hours, that's your choice. But start by building up to five hours per week of exercising and then adjust from there.
Wrapping UpThe fat loss process can be extremely rewarding. It's one of those things that you can see the fruit of your labor right before your eyes. When you set yourself up for fat loss success, the process becomes simple.
Instead of spending tons of emotional and psychological energy wondering if you're doing things right, set the six points strategies went over in motion.
By taking a pragmatic approach to fat loss instead of shooting in the dark, you put the power in your hands to control your progress - it puts you in the drivers seat.
It's not a matter of desire - it's a matter of process improvement. People want to lose fat, but their fat loss process is broken.
If that sounds like you, you now have a solid plan to change the trajectory of your progress. Now, all you gotta do is the work.
References1) Berardi, John. "How To Workout - Your Exercise Plan. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2016.
2) Wansink, Brian. Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. N.p., 2014. Print.