The process of losing excess body fat is sometimes not easy. If you have lots of excess body fat, it usually comes off quite quickly at first with just a few changes to your diet and your lifestyle.
Once you get closer to your ideal weight however, it can get harder and harder and plateaus are common.
The best way to make something easier is to make it simple.
Basic nutrition for fat loss is simple, but unfortunately is not always easy.
At the end of this article are some basic tips for small changes you can make to your nutrition plan to help with fat loss if you’ve reached a plateau.
Remember that you have to have the basics in place first. The basics are:
- Stop eating processed foods-always choose ‘real’ foods that have not been processed. This includes avoiding all man-made snacks no matter how good the advertising is. No bars, no cakes, biscuits, slices etc. Even bread and pasta are man-made. Have small quantities of these foods once or twice per week maximum.
- Measure portion sizes-this is especially important for protein and fat sources and things like yoghurt that are very easy to overeat. You do not need to measure vegetables, but fruits are best consumed in smaller quantities on a fat loss plan
- Stop drinking your calories-this includes alcohol, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured water, fruit juices and of course, soft drinks including diet ones. Save alcohol for once per week and don’t overdo it. If you’re serious about fat loss, avoid all of these drinks including alcohol till you’ve reached your goals.
- Stop eating and drinking ‘diet’ products. Real, natural foods do not need to be labeled as such, so if it’s described as a diet food, you most likely shouldn’t be eating it anyway. Anything labelled low fat, nonfat, no fat, low carb etc, should probably be avoided
- Each meal or snack should include a protein source and some fruits or vegetables. Yes even snacks have to include fruits and/or veggies. This are the basis of your nutrition plan. In your first meal of the day, or your meal/snack closest to training, include a starchy carb source such as a slice of bread/potato/peas or corn.
- Eat every 2-3 hours. Although this is not essential, I have found it is the most effective way to approach your fat loss nutrition. Your blood sugar and therefore insulin and other hormone levels will be more stable and you’re less likely to be ‘starving’ and eat foods that are not on your plan
- Slow down! This one is overlooked but very, very important. A very common reason for lack of results is stress! Poor sleep quality or not enough sleep WILL CAUSE YOU TO GAIN WEIGHT AND STOP YOU FROM LOSING WEIGHT!! If you are always in a rush or if you don’t have time for relaxation. If you go to bed after 10pm and/or if you get less than 7 hours good quality sleep per night more than once or twice per week – THIS IS YOU. Excessive abdominal fat (a big tummy) is also an indicator that this is YOU.
Drink more water. At minimum have 2 litres per day plus another 750-1000ml during training.
What if you are doing all the above and your results have slowed down or plateaued? This is actually pretty rare and keeping a food diary will often point out that you’re actually not following the basics as consistently as you may think you are.
I’m happy to check over your food journal even if you’re not a client at FitterFaster any time. Email me to organise this at no cost with no obligation. Sometimes, simple changes can yield big results. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
If however, you have been following the basics consistently for at least a 4-6 weeks and you’ve stopped getting results, a few simple ‘tweaks’ can be employed:
These tweaks will only be successful if you have all of the above basics in place first. You cannot override the healthy habits above
- On non-training days eliminate your starchy carb serves
- If you eat a 6th meal of the day (usually supper) drop it. This will lower your overall calories for the day as well as increase the length of time you are fasting overnight.
- Take the starchy carb out of your pre/post workout meal or other meal sometimes, but don’t do this if you’re training 4 or more times per week.
- On the other hand, if you’ve been skipping your starchy carbs on a regular basis, you should add them back in.
- Do 3-4 minutes of high intensity exercise in the 10-15 minutes before or straight after your main meal of the day. For an extra boost you could do this twice a day. Try bodyweight squats, burpees, walking lunges etc. Anything that you can do without equipment and wherever you are will do. Simply get your heart rate up for a few minutes.
- Do the occasional protein-only day. Eat 5-6 meals or snacks during the day that consist of just a lean protein source. This will really lower your insulin level and force your body to burn more fat. Make sure you drink at least 4 litres of water during the day if you’re going to try this and limit it to once per 10-14 days maximum during an intense fat loss effort. THIS IS NOT A LONG TERM STRATEGY AND WILL BACKFIRE IF YOU DO IT FOR TOO LONG OR TOO OFTEN
- Try intermittent fasting. Taking a break from food can have many health benefits including controlling or losing body fat. Stop eating after your evening meal and don’t eat again till lunchtime the next day is the easiest way to do this. Try this strategy every 7-14 days. During the fast, drink only water or black tea/coffee. THIS IS A STRATEGY THAT IS ONLY SUCCESSFUL FOR THOSE THAT ARE ALREADY MAKING GOOD FOOD CHOICES AND ARE EATING 4-5 MEALS AND SNACKS EVERY DAY ON A REGULAR BASIS. Otherwise it just becomes ‘meal skipping’ and will result in slowing down of metabolism if you regularly eat insufficient calories to support your body properly
These are a few simple strategies you can use to make a difference to your fat loss results. As noted above though, you must have all the basics in place or you’re kidding yourself that any of these small tweaks are going to make a difference.
The best results will come by being consistent with your healthy eating and by training frequently and with an effective program that combines high intensity cardio and resistance training.
Even the BASICS list above has so many steps. How am I supposed to achieve all that?
The best way to end up being consistent with all the habits you need to achieve lasting fat loss and better health and fitness is to start slowly and building habits 1-2 at a time. Waiting until one thing becomes easy is essential before adding more and more.
I have developed a free 10 part email series that helps you to get your head in the right place to make lasting changes to your lifestyle habits. Imagine if everything above just came easy and was just part of your day without you even thinking about it.
Overcoming roadblocks (such “I don’t have time”, “I don’t like healthy food”. ‘Its too expensive”, “I’m hopeless and I always fail or give up”, etc) can be done. You just need to learn strategies to over come them.
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