If you are a carb-sensitive eater, don’t panic! Eat smarter. Don’t forget that you need energy to live while you are focused on burning as much fat as you can. You need to eat enough every day or your body will rebel over time. And, you won’t be healthy and lean, you’ll be sick and weak.
Having said that, control what you eat. What puts weight on your body? Consume more calories than you burn over time (caloric surplus). Want to lose weight? Create a caloric deficit on most days (burn more calories than you consume). That is the law of thermodynamics. So what makes this such a complex process?
Cutting calories to help reach your fat loss and weight loss goals is not as easy as “just doing the math.” You need a healthy meal plan to start the process. After that, you will make many adjustments until you know how different foods affect your body.
Don’t think you can just eat 1,000 calories every day and continue to lose weight (because you have a caloric deficit). This tactic will only work for a short time. Your body doesn’t know you’re on some crazy diet. It thinks you are starving, so it goes into survival mode and stores body fat. Many of you have wrecked your metabolisms by eating too few calories during the day (month after month).
Calories are Not Your Enemy
Calories are just units of energy in the form of food and drink. Consider these facts:
- one gram of protein provides 4 calories
- one gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories
- one gram of fat provides 9 calories
- one gram of alcohol provides 7 calories
- vitamins and minerals don’t provide any calories
- water provides no calories
Depending on your goals, you may want to gain weight (such as athletes) or lose weight. Proper training will allow you to do either without losing critical muscle mass.
What About Basal Metabolic Rate, My Activity and My Menu?
What is your BASAL METABOLIC RATE (i.e., the number of calories you would burn if sitting all day doing nothing)? You will need to know this rate because it is important when planning meals to reach your individual training goals.
For instance, my basal metabolic rate is about 2,000 calories. If I eat 2,000 calories and burn 500 calories through exercise and daily activity, I will still lose weight and burn fat (500 caloric deficit).
If I starve myself and eat 1,200 calories (1,300 caloric deficit) day after day, my body will rebel and store body fat. A 1,300 caloric deficit is too large (severe calorie restriction).
You will find it easier to cut more calories by eating healthy and eating foods with high water content. You will actually be eating more while eating fewer calories. And, you will feel fuller for a longer period (thereby eating less).
Components of a Healthy Diet
Proteins are the basic building blocks of life. It is very important for building and repairing body tissues, especially after a tough workout. Protein should provide 15-30% of total daily caloric intake, depending on your goals.
Eat a complete protein with each meal. Complete proteins come from animal sources such as lean meats, low-fat dairy and eggs. Research has proven that protein keeps blood sugar levels more steady when you have a meal that includes carbohydrates. Protein helps you feel fuller for a longer period. Protein also keeps ghrelin in check so your hunger doesn’t spike so high.
Carbohydrates are important to spare protein to build and repair body tissue. Carbs provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances that are important to overall health.
Carbohydrates are not your enemy! They are your body’s preferred source of energy (especially during exercise). Its important to have a meal plan that includes the macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats). The primary cause of weight gain are consistent caloric surpluses. There are some instances where carb cycling can be a great strategy to burn fat. But, you should master the basics of nutrition first.
You should limit eating foods like sugars, white bread, processed foods, pasta, muffins, refined foods and white flour products. These high glycemic foods encourage fat storage since more sucrose is escorted into the bloodstream quickly. The best time to eat high glycemic carbs is after a tough strength workout when your body needs quick glycogen replenishment.
Instead, eat more fiber for carbs to improve your overall health and belly fat reduction.
Your body cannot digest fiber and there are two forms:
–Soluble fiber dissolves in water and produces a gel-like substance in your stomach. This substance helps digested food move slowly through the small intestine and slows down food absorption and release of nutrients into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber also limits the amount of cholesterol released into the blood. Oats are high in soluble fiber.
–Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down once entering the stomach and increases in size by absorbing water. This type of fiber speeds up foods absorption once it enters into the small intestine. Insoluble fiber cleans your system as it travels through your body.
Eat both types of fiber to help you feel fuller for longer and to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Eating 25-35 grams of daily fiber per day will help fight belly fat.
Concentrate more on foods like fruits and vegetables which have high fiber and/or water content.
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower total cholesterol. Good sources of MUFAs are nuts (especially raw), nut butters, olives, virgin olive oil and avocados.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are also good for you—especially the omega-3 fats found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout and white tuna. Flaxseed and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3 fats. Eat more omega-3 fats and less omega 6 fats.
Too much omega 6 fat intake can lead to inflammation that causes arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Sources of omega-6 fats are sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil and cottonseed oil.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) fats found in red meat and dairy are also good for you provided they come from grass-fed cattle. Another option would be to supplement your diet with krill oil.
Eating saturated fats like butter and coconut oil is also very healthy. Coconut oil is great for cooking.
Moderation is the key to eating fats.
You can only live a few days without water. About 2/3 of your body is water. Drink about half your weight in water every day. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water each day.
Remember, certain foods contain large amounts of water. This counts toward your water intake. For instance watermelon is about 90% water and lettuce has about 95% water. Some meats contain as much as 70% water.
Water also helps your body flex muscles, remove wastes, cushion joints, carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells and helps convert food into energy (although water doesn’t provide energy).
You may be experiencing dehydration if you have dry lips/mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea or muscle cramps. When you exercise, drink about a cup of water every 15 minutes.
Vitamins and Minerals
Discuss the dietary supplements you plan to take with your doctor. Don’t try to treat serious medical conditions with supplements. Look at the GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) supplement list published by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Use dietary supplements for health benefits and not to target weight loss. Exercise and eat healthy to reach your fat loss and weight loss goals.