I talk about calories a lot!
“Calories are the most important factor for fat loss”
“Control your weekly calorie target to get results”
“The only way to lose body fat is through a calorie deficit”
All of these statements are true and will always remain true, but they can often be taken out of context. Whilst calories are the most important factor for fat loss, but they are not the only factor that could benefit your results. I want to provide you with a few important factors that should not be overlooked when focussing on your diet. Shouting “eat less, move more” is not very helpful and can be difficult for some to practically apply to their lives.
There many ways to skin a cat (if you are into skinning cats), as there are many ways to lose weight. Whilst there are lots of methods to losing weight, there is only one principle (calories in vs. calories out). The factor that determines the best method for you, is the one you can stick with for the longest and with the most ease. If you can imagine yourself on this diet in years’ time and that doesn’t fill you with dread, you are probably on a diet that suits you and your lifestyle.
This is often massively overlooked. When I talk about calories, a certain group of people get excited that they can continue to eat nothing but biscuits and beers, as long as they are within their calories. Technically they are right. You would continue to lose body fat, but you would be impacted in many other ways. Muscle mass, recovery and hunger to name a few. The number on the scales would go down but the result may be that you look like a sock filled with custard at the end.
Focussing most of our diet on fruits, vegetables, grains and minimally processed foods is always going to be the best option. Whilst we want to get results, we need to think about the reasons why we are doing this. Usually to get fitter and healthier, not just lighter. Having plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre is going to set us up for the best long term success and ensure our bodies are working optimally.
Whilst the overarching calories can not be ignored, the next big factor for my clients is protein intake. Protein is going to be key for building muscle (or least preventing muscle loss) and keeping you fuller for longer, and therefore preventing additional snacking (more calories).
Instead of setting an individual number for each person, I like to advise that you have a large source of protein in every single meal (between 20g – 40g), spread across 3-4 meals. This can come from meat, eggs, whey or any plant based alternative.
Another important factor to look at is hunger. Yes, you may be able to “eat less, move more”, but for how long. Eventually there will be a time you get hungry and you decide you want more food. Managing hunger is an important strategy for long term success and to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Be aware that you are aiming to control hunger, not completely remove it. If you are in a calorie deficit, there will be times that you are hungry, but you have tools in place to manage it. Some solutions may be to keep fruit and veg high, increase fibre, increase protein, drink lots of water, manage your sleep or avoiding mindless eating.
I have written in a lot more detail about hunger here if you want to read some more.
Meal timing comes down to peoples personal preference. If you are not hungry in the morning then don’t eat breakfast. If you are most hungry in the evening, then slide some of your calories from breakfast, over to your evening meal. This is going to depend on your individual circumstances, your lifestyle and your schedule.
I cannot give individual recommendations on this as it changes for every single one of my clients.
Whilst recovery isn’t going to help you lose weight directly, it could indirectly hinder your progress or prevent you from adhering to your current plan. For example, if you have had a mental day at work, one of the kids are off sick, you parents are giving you a hard time because you never visit and there is a 3 hour traffic jam on the way home, the chances are you are not going to be craving a salad. You are probably going to want something quick, convenient and full of sugar/fat/salt (or all three).
This isn’t the end of the world if this happens on an very occasional basis, but if this is a regular occurrence, this could have a detrimental impact on your long term health and results. I would recommend focussing on stress management, sleep and rest days.
I cannot stress this enough that calories are the most important deciding factor for your results, but there are also other factors that can impact whether you stick to that number of calories. It is all well and good me setting you a number to reach, but if you are tired, hungry and not getting enough vitamins and minerals, we are losing the ‘health’ aspect of health and fitness. Yes, calories are important, but so is your long term health and other factors do have an impact on those calories.
I appreciate that this is a lot to take in and absorb, and is even more difficult to implement. I want to help you achieve your results and take the guess work out of the equation. All you have to do is get in touch and we will talk about all of these things in detail and work out a plan designed specially for you.
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.