Have you tried to lose body fat before and failed miserably? Contrary to whatever you may feel, the reason why most fat loss endeavors fail is because of bad nutrition. The most common mistake that people make is to jump in too hard, while your goal should be to start by making small changes in your diet, and improve gradually.
Your diet and nutrition should be a complete and sustainable lifestyle change.
There are so many nutrition-related variables that you can change in your diet. And all of them would impact your progress to lose body fat. But, where to start? So, in this article, I’m going to discuss 4 very basic, but very important points related to nutrition and losing body fat.
I’ll tell you how making these 4 changes in your lifestyle will affect your fat loss journey, and I hope that after reading this article, you would be more aware and more enthusiastic to make these changes for good.
Check your macros, but don’t micromanage
Yes, calculating macros is important, but when you’re just starting out your journey to lose body fat, getting an idea of it is enough. You dont have to go into too much details and micromanagement. This, like I mentioned above, would be too overwhelming for you and could be the cause of your demotivation.
To keep it simple, just remember – protein, greens, and water.
Now, many of you would think this is absurd. Where are “complex” carbs and “good” fats? Well, they have their place in the diet, definitely. But here, we are talking about taking the first step, beginning the process. As the process continues, I’ll tell you where carbs and fats come into play. But for now, protein and veggies are your priority. And water, of course.
Don’t forget the water.
Breaking it down even further, protein and veggies both have a property that is very important for fat loss – they both keep you feeling fuller, while you actually eat less. Can you imagine a bowl full of green-salad has just about less then 100 calories, but it can keep you full for good 3-4 hours? Not just that, vegetables are packed with all kind of nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, the fiber content also keeps the digestive tract clean.
Coming to the protein part, and we’re talking about lean animal proteins, it helps in building muscles and building muscles burns more calories and lose body fat, so I’d say it’s a win win. Similar to the vegetables, protein is also slow to digest and keeps you feeling full. Plus, our body needs to burn a lot of energy to digest and absorb protein, hence it also has high thermic effect.
The third most important point is water. You’ll know that human body is 70% made up of water. So, what should be the most important nutrient for human body? Exactly, water! With all the hype around micronutrients, it’s pretty easy to forget water, but that would be a big mistake. Apart from all the benefits of keeping you hydrated, which I’m assuming you already know, it enhances performance, prevents dehydration and helps in quick recovery after workout. Now, how would you know that you’re dehydrated and need to drink water? The most common symptoms of dehydration are hunger, fatigue, headache, irritability, mood-swings, lightheadedness, lack of focus, muscle cramps, decrease in strength, and laziness. So, if you’re feeling any of these symptoms go ahead and drink couple of glasses of water, you’ll instantly feel better. Another water benefit is that it’s calorie-free and can fill up your tummy for sometime, means less food cravings.
You should try to fix every meal in such a way that protein and veggies are your priority food items. If you still feel hungry, then you can add good fats and carbs, keeping calories in mind.
This brings us to the next point to help you lose body fat-
2. Go from meal to meal instead of “meal planning”
You must have heard the term “meal planning” or “meal preparation”, and seen fitness models saying that you should pre-prepare your whole weeks’ food in advance and store it in containers. Well, DONT! First of all, you’re just starting out. You need to take things slow and make small changes in your lifestyle.
Now, talking of a small change, figure out which meal is usually the most unhealthy for you. Let’s say you are having a burger everyday on your way to work. Or, your breakfast is normal eggs and bacon, but the lunch is all messed up, or no lunch at all. Or your dinner is usually a take-out from your fav Chinese restaurant or a pizza. Whatever your most difficult meal of the day is, try to tackle that first. Make a plan of what you’re going to eat for that specific meal of the day, everyday. Pick your lean protein and favorite vegetables, (also carbohydrates if it’s a breakfast or lunch), and swap that unhealthy meal with a healthy one. You can have variety in your meal, like if you’re having fish and beans on one day, have grilled chicken and broccoli the next day and maybe steak and spinach on day after that.
When you have swapped an unhealthy meal with a healthy one, you have really taken a big step towards healthy lifestyle and it’ll definitely contribute to your journey to lose body fat. This way, you’ll not only eliminate a lot of unhealthy calories from your diet, but also improve your nutrition and overall health.
The only thing you have to take care of is that you’d have to carve out time to plan and prepare these meals. I’d not recommend to prepare a week’s worth of meals or even 3 days. I won’t even say prepare for two days. I’d say just take small steps and try to go form meal to meal, and gradually it would lead up to a healthy regular habit. Which brings us to the next point –
3. Making small swaps
Now that you know first two points to lose body fat, they both are a good place to start your fat loss endeavor. Once you have made a routine, then you can focus on other “deadly” calories demons hiding in your diet. You don’t have to make drastic changes here, just swapping some specific food items with healthier options can do wonders. You’d be surprised to know that this swapping can cut your calories in half. Here are a few changes that you can make in day-to-day food items – swap refined oils with coconut or olive oil, refined sugar with sugar-free, full-fat food items with their fat-free versions, fried food with baked items, refined white flour with multigrain flour, white rice with brown rice, etc. These changes are very small and you don’t even have to swap all of them at the same time. Just like I said before, start one step at a time. Which brings us to the last point to help you lose body fat –
4. Don’t start too fast
This is the biggest mistake that people make at the beginning of their fat loss plan. I’d strongly suggest not to cut calories rapidly from your diet. Our metabolism is very dynamic and it keeps changing according to what we eat. It adapts to our food habits, workout routine, and other day-to-day activities and respond to sudden changes by opposing them.
Let’s say your daily maintenance calorie level is 2000. Now if you start working out and consume just 1000 calories per day, you’re creating a huge calorie deficit. This way you’ll lose weight for sure, but that would not be just fat, but also whatever muscle mass you have in your body. Then gradually, your body will adapt to this routine and in a couple of weeks your fat loss journey will hit a plateau and you’ll stop losing weight. What would you do then? You’d have no choice but to reduce calories even further and increase your cardio. This would result in weakness and fatigue, will make you unhealthy and could cause serious life-threatening problems.
The best rate to lose body fat is to lose 500g to 1kg per week, at a steady weight. This can be achieved by simply keeping a calorie deficit of just 500 calories per day.
So, these are 4 simple steps that you should consider taking as a beginner if you really want to lose body fat. Remember, this is not a diet change, it’s a lifestyle change. If you consider yourself on a specific diet, there are chances that you’d want your diet to end one day. You’d want to have “cheat days”. You’d get bored of your diet and will eventually quit one day. But, if you consider it a lifestyle change, then you can stick to it for a longer time. You’d be able to sneak-in your favorite food items every now and then without hampering your overall health. And, at the end of the day, you’d be more healthy.
So, start today and keep sharing your experience in the comments as you progress.