Before you begin to carefully critique and analyze the most perfect, most intricate, and most well-thought-out diet plan – the plan that will take you “there”, be sure you keep the big picture in mind.
Dieting seems complex. It seems difficult. It seems way more convoluted than it needs to be.
Should we avoid carbs? Should we carb-overload? Should we only consume “low-GI carbs”? Should we “detox”? Should we go “Paleo”? Should we go “keto”? Should we eat 7 meals? Should we do “Leangains”? Should we do the “Warrior Diet”?
What about low-fat? Healthy fats? Saturated fat? Unsaturated fat? Coconut oil? Will trans fats really kill us?
Avoid sugar? Artificial sweeteners? What about GMO’s?
What supplements should we take? Pills? Greens shakes? Antioxidants? Goji berries?
What about raspberry ketones? Green tea extract?
Should we wrap ourselves in saran wrap, hoping it will “sculpt” our midsections?
It’s easy to see how the “illusion of complexity” can creep into our minds.
But before we even begin to think about ANY of those aforementioned methods……….be sure you are seeing things in the correct lens.
We need to keep the cart behind the horse, so to speak.
And if your primary goal is weight loss, these 11 items will ensure that goal is reached.
Listed in order of importance…………..
1. Your caloric deficit must be firmly, and consistently, in tact.
No fat loss will ever occur unless this is priority #1. You can try every crazy, faddish method known to man. But unless a caloric deficit is in place, and is achieved on MOST days, you will lose approximately ZERO fat.
Going “keto”? You might lose some water weight. But if you eat more “keto” foods than you need, you will not lose fat.
Avoiding processed sugar? Awesome. But if the items you eat without processed sugar have more calories in them than you need, you will not lose fat.
Going “vegan”? Super. But if the veggies and grains you eat contain more than your caloric maintenance each day, you will not lose fat.
If you do not have a deficit, you do not lose fat. Period. End of story.
2. For fat loss, your caloric deficit is everything – your exact macros are a very distant second.
Exact marcronutrient amounts are a hot-ticket item right now. Everyone has their method of creating the perfect ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
But the exact number of each of those macros matters much, much less than your overall caloric deficit.
Your protein should be kept high – that’s a given. Approximately 1 gram of protein for each pound of lean body mass is a good number.
Fat and carbs? More carbs when you train with less fat. More fat when you don’t with less carbs.
But the exact amounts? It’s more personal preference than anything else.
If your fat is a bit higher than most, or you’re a carboholic, in all honesty, as long as your caloric deficit is solid – it doesn’t really matter.
So, pick some numbers. Try them. If you’re going crazy, adjust them.
It’s that simple.
3. Your estimated TDEE is a starting point only – adjustments are more important than your exact TDEE.
Rather than using all 1,342 ways of estimating your TDEE and taking the mean………….be sure you realize this:
Your TDEE is constantly changing.
It varies based on so many different metabolic processes which are simultaneously taking place inside of our bodies.
Rather than stress incessantly about that number, keep in mind this: Most activity multipliers overestimate caloric need.
Pick a low-activity multiplier, use ONE of those methods, find your estimated maintenance, create your deficit, and begin.
Losing too quickly? Too much hunger? Adjust upwards.
Losing too slowly? Want to speed up progress? Adjust downwards.
Theory always works better than practice. So, when the “practice” portion needs a tweak, tweak on, my friend.
It’s better to start yesterday than to continue to stress about setting everything up perfectly.
4. Your best supplements are: quality nutrition, training intensity, adequate sleep, and proper hydration.
If these items are not in place, it matters not what kind of fish oil, or creatine, or cod liver oil you’re consuming.
Nail those four items and your need for supplements will vanish.
5. While meal frequency is somewhat irrelevant, simpler is almost always better.
Remember this: Leangains was created under the assumption that meal frequency was IRRELEVANT for fat loss……….not the other way around.
Intermittent fasting was not meant to be a way of speeding fat loss. Don’t get it twisted.
IF is meant as a means of simplification – and a way to create a caloric buffer without much effort.
If you want to eat 8 meals per day, knock yourself out. It’ll work. As long as your deficit is intact.
However, a two or three meal format DOES benefit most people when actively attempting to lose weight.
It means less planning, less cooking, larger meals, more satisfaction, and often times, less hunger issues.
But once again, the deficit must be in tact for any weight loss to occur.
6. Scale weight is never lost or gained linearly – your waist measurement is a much more accurate indicator of progress.
Scale weight can be tricky. It fluctuates due to pretty much everything. Water, food type, digestion patterns, time of day, workout preference, time of the month (for half of us), etc.
Weighing yourself on a daily basis is a surefire way to go clinically insane.
Take your weight once per week. Max.
But your waist measurement almost never lies.
According to Dick Talens’ fantastic article “Taming the Scale” – one inch off of the midsection equates to 4-5 pounds of pure fat loss – regardless of the scale reading.
Keep that in mind.
Take your waist measurement every two weeks, or longer, to ensure fat is being lost over time.
And ditch that scale. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
7. Get your veggies and your fiber in.
Aids in digestion. Provides micronutrients. Facilitates satiety.
It’s a no-brainer.
Make it happen.
8. Take the thought out of your food choices before you actually have to make them.
Waiting until you’ve finished your work for the day before you begin to plan your meals sets yourself up for failure.
Nobody wants to plan a nutritious, macro-hitting meal when you’re tired, cranky, and hungry.
Decide on your meals the night before. Double-check your fridge for the supplies.
Keep the menu posted on your fridge.
When dinnertime hits? Make the meal. Eat the meal.
And smile a little smile – because your deficit is in tact – and fat is being lost.
9. Actively attempt to forget about your diet.
If your diet is the only thing you think about, you’ll never make it all the way to “lean-town”.
Your diet should be “what you do”. It should be your lifestyle. It shouldn’t be what defines you, what drives you, what obsesses you, or what you stress over.
Get some hobbies. Get out of the house. Get active.
Worrying about every little aspect of your consumption will lead to unnecessary anxiety.
Your diet shouldn’t dictate your life.
Your life should always be priority number one.
10. Life will happen. So plan for it.
Got a wedding? A night out at a restaurant? A social event? A family party?
We all do.
No biggie – plan for it.
If you’re going to be consuming a meal which is impossible to nail your macros – don’t stress it.
A simple plan is all it takes to stay right on track.
Try this plan:
Make lunch half of your protein and keep it low fat.
Then go eat dinner sensibly. Eat meat and veggies. Get a drink or two. Be careful of the appetizers, skip the dessert.
And enjoy your time spent with friends and loved ones.
And your caloric deficit (common theme) will still be taken care of.
And you win, yet again.
11. Intermittent fasting is meant to simplify and enhance your life. If it doesn’t do this for you, it might be time to try something else.
If you give IF a try, and it doesn’t work for you, no worries, my friend.
No eating style is a necessity for proper, maintainable weight loss.
Refer to item #1 if you need to – it’s been referred to countless times in this post.
If waiting until lunch simply doesn’t work for you – then don’t MAKE it work……..just try something else.
Remember, the best diet FOR YOU is the one you can consistently stick to.
Yours in true health,