One of the questions we get asked nearly every day from our customers and clients is “ How do I lose weight, and stay lean?” Whether it’s a few added pounds of baby weight you were never able to shed, or you’ve struggled with nutrition and diet your entire life, there are a few simple rules that you can follow and incorporate into your everyday eating habits that will help you reach your fitness goals and stay there. A common misconception is that going on a diet will help you lose weight, and you’ll finally reach the body composition or image that you’ve been trying so desperately to attain. Granted, you may lose a few pounds before beach season, but for the majority of us, it’s just not sustainable. It may be cliché but we’re going to show you that staying lean, and keeping off the unwanted weight, Is really not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
Before we get started, we need to get one thing straight and set the right expectations. This article is NOT about obtaining the healthiest diet possible, it’s about how you can shed your unwanted pounds and keep it that way. This isn’t about meeting your macros, or about hitting your daily-recommended values. Great! Let’s get started.
Rule #1 – Intermittent Fasting
To make this is as simple as possible, you’re going to eat for an eight-hour window throughout the day. Whether you have your first meal at 11a.m. or at 1p.m. it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re eating between the eight hours you’ve chosen, and fasting for the remaining 16.
What is Intermittent Fasting and why is intermittent fasting good for you?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating; it doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat. For starters, it’s hard for our bodies to burn fat while we’re digesting and absorbing nutrients, since insulin levels are so high. It takes around 3-5 hours to fully digest your food. After that time frame, we enter the post-absorptive state or the fasted state, for the next 8-12 hours. It’s easier for our bodies to burn fat, when we’re in a fasted state.
Secondly, this makes food prep and planning extremely easy, especially for those of us that are busy! Instead of worrying about eating at the right times, you can eat 2-3 meals between that 8 hour window, and that’s all you have to worry about. It takes simplicity to a whole new level.
Rule #2 – Pair proteins with functional carbs
You may be thinking, what the hell is a functional carb? Good question! Instead of thinking of carbohydrates as Simple vs. Complex, I like to think of them as Energy vs. Functional. What does that mean? Energy carbs are the carbohydrates that contain starch such as white bread, potatoes, and pasta. Functional carbs, are carbohydrates that will keep you satiated or fuller for a longer period of time, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, apples, or foods made from whole wheat sources. Below is a table of proteins and functional carbs. Pair a protein with any functional carb for your meals. Simple right!
Rule #3 – Make a grocery list
Visiting the grocery store when you’re hungry is never a good choice. When you find grocery bags full of pop tarts, frozen pizzas and the danishes that we’re on sale, it’s because you didn’t make a list. Making a grocery list is simple, and it keeps you to getting only the necessities and items you intended to buy. Which leads us into our next rule!
Rule #4 – Pay attention to nutrition labels
This step requires a few key nutrition facts to pay close attention to when making your purchases. Pay attention to the Macros; protein, fat, and carbohydrates and also the sodium, calories and sugar. Compare items that you're going to buy, and choose the product that has the least amount of calories, sugar, and sodium, with low levels of fat and carbohudrates, while boating a high protein content. For example, when you’re making a decision on what ground beef to buy, always go with the 97/3 (97% lean protein to 3% fat). This will give you the lowest calories, and the best protein content to fat ratio. Apply this rule with anything you buy, and you’ll be cutting out extra calories and fat from everything you eat.
Rule #5 – Watch Your Sodium level
Sodium can lead to water retention and bloat, not to mention high blood pressure, and stroke. Make sure you’re paying attention to how much salt is in the products your buying. When you’re making a choice between Mango Chicken Sausage, and a package of Chicken Breast, look at the sodium levels your about to fill your body with. You’ll be surprised at how much salt you’re really ingesting. My advice, minimize your sodium levels as much as you can. No matter what, you’ll get the amount of sodium you need through your daily diet, without pouring it on top of everything you eat.
Rule #6 – Protein ratio
No matter what protein you decide to eat with your functional carb for dinner, make sure you’re buying the leanest choice possible. If you have a choice between 99/1 lean ground turkey, or the neatly stacked pre-made turkey burgers that come in a plastic bag DO NOT BUY the pre-made burgers. Also make sure you’re buying organic meat to avoid preservatives, additives and GMO’s. The price tag may be a bit higher, buy since you only live once, don’t you think it might be worth the extra two bucks.
Rule #7 – The Type of Carbohydrates You Eat Matter
Carbohydrates are essential for our bodies to efficiently function, as they provide fuel for our cells, energy, and a good source of dietary fiber. But if your goal is to live a healthier and eminently happier life, the carbohydrates you incorporate into your diet, are extremely important to help you achieve your goals.
Complex carbohydrates or functional carbs are composed of long polysaccharide chains (polymeric carbohydrate molecules composed of long chains of monosaccharide units) such as whole grains and starches, which are slowly absorbed by the body as compared to simple carbohydrates (energy carbs) or refined sugars
What does this mean for you? Well first off, it means that by eating functional carbohydrates you’ll be satiated, or fuller for a longer period of time as opposed to eating simple carbohydrates.
Rule #8 – Drink more water
Drinking more water will help you flush out waste and bacteria. Not to mention feed your body by providing the proper circulation of nutrients. Especially since muscle tissue is composed of 80% water. Whenever you drink something, drink water.
Rule #9 – Balance your diet with supplementation
It’s imperative that you provide your body with the micronutrients that it craves, and that it requires to properly function. Supplementation is more than just pre-workout, fat-burners and protein. It’s calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B, iron, vitamin d etc. Make sure you’re making up in the areas you lack, to bridge the gap in your nutrient deficiencies, to optimize your active lifestyle.
Rule #10 – Make the small changes
Changing the small things is perhaps one of the most important steps in actively changing your lifestyle, and getting rid of the fat for good. For example, if you drink 6 sodas per day, which translates into roughly 720 calories, that accounts for over a third of the calories recommended for a conventional diet. If you have to have soda, replace it with a diet beverage, carbonated water, or cut it out for good!
Another example would be getting a sandwich for lunch. Instead of getting a turkey, ham and provolone sandwich on white bread, you can make a few small changes to make it a much healthier choice, by just switching to whole wheat, and getting rid of the cheese and mayo.
This rule can literally be applied to every aspect of what you eat. Be conscious of what you eat, and cut out the extra-unwanted calories you don’t need.
Rule #11 – Be conscious of what you eat
It’s easy to lose track of what you eat throughout the day. Co-workers bring in doughnuts, and you just had to have the bacon maple bar. Or maybe, you went out for lunch and you ate the last part of your friends southwest chicken salad. Then you went to a baseball game threw back a couple of beers, slammed a hot dog, and finished with some funnel cake. By the end of the day, without even counting your meals, you’ve already eaten and ingested twice the amount of calories you should’ve. Find what your recommended daily calorie intake should be for your height and weight, and be conscious of what you eat throughout the day. My recommendation would be to eat only 2-3 times per day and keep snacking to a minimum. That way, you can think back to exactly what you ate throughout the day. Or even better, you can follow our 8 simple ways to keep a FOOD JOURNAL!
Rule #12 – Keep eating out to a minimum
If it’s fast food, don’t even think about it. It’s not even an option. However if you’re going out with friends or date night for a nice meal, just make smart choices based upon calorie intake, carbohydrates, and protein. Sodium at this point goes out the window, but pay attention to the few variables you can control.
When these simple 12 rules are applied to your everyday eating habits, it will change your life, not for just a couple weeks, but forever. Eating clean can be fun, and despite the stigmas associated with it, you can still eat the majority of what you’re already eating. Don’t wait! Make the change today, instead of waiting tomorrow.