Diets are simply not going to give you WHAT YOU WANT over the long term. You know that, you've probably tried multiple diets over the years, and still don't have the desired result.
I get it. There's been a lot of crap published that promises the world, and does not deliver.
Zone - Atkins - Paleo - Clean - Dr Phil - Low Carb - Low Fat
Are any of these sounding familiar? I'll bet big money that you've tried some or all, have probably had some SHORT TERM success, but then slipped and gone back to where you started, probably with some extra weight as a bonus.....
I don't blame you. You were just doing what you were told.
SO - what to do now?
Try this process on for size - it's slow, it's sustainable, and most of all it's designed to work because we are looking at moving along at a reasonable pace....
BEFORE YOU READ ON - please keep in mind that this is a PROCESS not a DIET. A process requires work and time. You'll have to read the following stuff, and pick your highest impact area to work on, and focus ONLY on that one thing for starters....
Work through the areas in bold below, and pick the ONE that is most relevant to you. ONLY ONE - in my 20 years in health and fitness, I've seen many people succeed using the slow and steady approach. I think mostly it's because the area worked on becomes a sustainable habit, rather than a short term painful thing to do. It's possible that our metabolic rate will adjust too if we try and work on too many things at once, as our brain is very adept at keeping us alive and if too much change is detected, survival mode kicks in, hormones change, and weight loss stops.
Here is my list of HIGH IMPACT areas to focus on. Work on just ONE, then repeat the process using the next area. Spend at least a month on each area, so you experience highs and lows, challenges, success and failure - but by the end of that month you'll have that area under control. These topics are the ones that come up again and again in my nutrition coaching.
No surprises here. You've probably heard all about it, and have made some changes already. There is obvious stuff like soft drinks and sweets etc - once you have eliminated the obvious stuff, move onto at least a week of using My Fitness Pal or a similar online service to find out where the sugar in your diet is.
- Eliminate the obvious stuff first. Eg soft drinks and sweets
- Then spend a week using My Fitness Pal to find where the sugar is in your diet
- Pick 2-4 foods that are your highest sugar contributors, then delete them or replace them in your diet with a lower sugar option.
- Spend at least a month doing this, and repeat the My Fitness Pal step to re-analyse your diet.
I find that despite all the information out there, people are still getting the training a bit mixed up. Spend at least a month working on:
- Consistency. Your first point of action is to get training as often as possible, in some way. Aim for at least 6 days per week, make it a habit. Don't worry about what it is, just get up to 6 days minimum.
- Strength. Once you have the number of days per week up, work on building in strength work. You'll need to do strength work at least twice per week if you want optimal results.
- Intervals. Once you are training regularly, and including some strength, you'll need to include some form of interval training in your week, at least once. Think hill sprints, efforts on the treadmill, efforts on the rower.
- Once you have all of that bedded down, work on your daily step count. Use your iphone or a fitness tracking device, but get up to 10,000 steps per day as soon as possible.
- Don't overdo any ONE type of training. I've worked with many runners who simply hammer the mileage and get better results once we re-work their routine to include strength and some shorter days.
This is an easy win for a dietitian such as myself. Look at your daily food intake, and if you DON'T have a significant protein source at each meal, solve that problem and get some protein in. Protein is well proven to be crucial for fat loss success, it's great for helping us feel full, helps manage blood sugar levels, and helps us keep an active metabolism. It simply works, so get that protein in .
Aim for at least 30 grams at each meal.
I've seen people lose significant body fat JUST focussing on increasing their protein. It's a game changer. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable (which protein helps with) is helpful for avoiding snacking, helping keep insulin levels stable, which in turn helps the body access fat stores and lose body fat. Get that protein in. Google new recipes and ideas so that MOST IMPORTANTLY you get protein in at breakfast time.
Stack in the vegetables too - a diet higher in protein and vegetables is incredibly effective at helping stay a healthy weight, and is easy to implement as well.
Yep, quite simply eating too much, of good food or bad, can be your undoing. Boredom eating, stressful eating, eating out of habit, not knowing when you are empty versus hungry. All of these things can push you into simply EATING TOO MUCH.
Again, running your dietary intake through a tool like My Fitness Pal can solve this problem on two fronts:
- Simply recording your food intake is great for raising awareness of what you actually eat in a day.
- The calorie calculation will be very useful. If you are a person that requires 2000 calories per day, and you consistently eat 2500, guess what? You'll gain weight over time.
Learn other strategies for when you are bored, stressed, or seem to be eating for non-hunger reasons. Be mindful, record things, plan things. Working on your food quantity might take more than a month, so be patient, do the work, and yield the benefits.
Game changer right here folks.
Truly - I have had multiple clients work on sleep ONLY, and shift from weight gain to weight loss with not another single change to diet or training. It's that important.
For many years I just didn't buy into the sleep story, until it became a focal point with a few clients who seemed to have everything under control but couldn't shift weight. Getting your sleep right (long, peaceful, unbroken) helps the body get into the right hormonal state.
Quick tip: If you are waking up feeling anything but fresh and awesome, you can improve your sleep quality. Get a solid routine in place, don't eat too late, get off the screens, and get to bed early. Get that room nice and dark, and not too hot. DO NOT look at ipads or smartfones in bed, only look at books or your pillow.
People seem to forget that alcohol itself, the chemical, is a very calorie dense nutrient and because it's toxic, the body has to burn it up first. A weekly diet that includes more than 5 drinks for women, or 7 drinks for men, will in my experience greatly hinder fat loss attempts. Work on it, find other ways to socialise. Get that weekly number down.
Partner up with a friend - go alcohol free for a few days per week. Work on it. Fat loss is so so much easier when alcohol intake is low.
HIGH CARB LOW FAT DIET
If you are still using this outdated eating model, I'm very sorry, we got it wrong, change now and enjoy the benefits. Work on it slowly over a month, increase your fat intake slowly, bring your carbohydrate intake down slowly, and you'll reach a point where the fat loss kicks in. Your body does not like low fat diets, in fact it'll hang onto body fat if you aren't eating dietary fat.
High carb diets don't give your body a chance to shift into fat burning as the pancreas is busy pumping out insulin to help manage the blood sugar from the carbohydrate intake, which also stops fat burning. So - again - some time on My Fitness Pal might help.
Pick your area - work on it for a month - see what happens - work on the next area
You'll get better results if you approach long term change in this way. Don't take on too much change at once, you are simply setting yourself up for failure, and who wants that?
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