Less glamorous than its strength-training counterpart, yet significantly MORE IMPORTANT to fat loss is nutrition. You can be a die hard gym-fanatic, but if your diet is full of processed foods, bad fats, or just too many calories, then no amount of gym time will be enough to transform your body.
So, for those of you who are not only trying to lose weight, but keep it off for good, then you what you really need is a solid nutrition plan to follow.
And so the first order of business is to determine just how many daily calories your body needs. Once you have that figured out, then you’ll need to set up some guidelines for determining your meal plan, shopping needs, and ways that you can eat better for fat loss.
Remember, fat loss isn’t easy, but by following these 12 proven methods for improving your diet, your fat loss journey will soon appear a lot less difficult.
1. Prepare a weekly menu. Outline each meal and snack for every day of the upcoming week. Take into account the possibilities that you might work late or get invited out to lunch. The more options you have and preparations you make, the better you will be able to stick to your fat loss plan.
2. From your menu plan, make your grocery list and stick to it. Grocery shopping is your first opportunity to break some bad nutritional habits. You can’t eat chips, cookies, or cakes if you don’t have them in the house – so don’t buy them and you’ll avoid any future temptation.
3. Prepare the meals or the ingredients ahead of time so that making the actual meal doesn’t take a lot of time. Like shopping, it’s best to do all of these preparations at one time (such as on a Sunday or another day off).
4. Use Fitday.com or another similar website to record your food and calorie intake for 7-10 days. Do this until you get a good grasp of how many calories are in typical servings. Once you can eyeball your calorie needs – and after you’ve improved the quality of your diet – you won’t need to count calories ever again. Seriously!
5. However, continue using a food journal just to record your meals. According to Men’s Health (Feb 2009, p 38), keeping a food log helped subjects lose 3.5 more pounds than subjects that didn’t keep the log.
6. Eat at least 10 servings (combined) of fruits and vegetables per day. Stick to high-fiber fruits such as apples or grapefruit, antioxidant rich berries, leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables. Try one new fruit and vegetable every week.
7. Use fluids to keep you healthy and full. Drink 12 cups of water per day and eat vegetable soups before meals to help you eat less.
8. Use less meat to get your protein needs. Try one vegetarian day per week. Already doing that? Try one vegan day per week.
9. Remove all added sugar and trans-fats from your diet. Avoid foods from bags or boxes, but if you do eat anything with a label, make sure to avoid the following ingredients: High-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
10. Have a reward meal once per week. Follow Dr. John Berardi’s 90% rule – if you eat according to the guidelines 90% of the time, you can cheat 10% of the time and still make incredible body changes.
11. Take 3 minutes and write down every nutrition obstacle in your way this week. Then take another 3 minutes and write down 2 solutions for every obstacle. Problems solved, and now you’ll be able to stick to your plan with ease.
12. If you fall “off the wagon” cut your losses, don’t worry about it, and get right back on track – Immediately! It’s minor damage that can be dealt with. Stay STRONG!
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training