A common mistake many people make when trying to lose weight is focusing solely exercise. Yes, exercising is crucial for weight loss as it speeds up the calorie burning process, however the nutritional aspect is even more crucial.
When it comes to weight loss, the combination of training and good nutrition is essential. First things first, you CANNOT out train a bad diet. If you are training hard in the gym and then eat whatever you’d like afterwards, your training results / progress will either be slow or non-existent. You must compliment your training with your diet. This does not necessarily mean you have to be on a particular diet, it simply means trying to sustain healthy, balanced eating habits, whilst being in a calorific deficit.
So, what is a calorific deficit? A calorific deficit simply means consuming less calories a day / a week relative to the number of calories your body requires to maintain its current body weight. Think of it this way – if your calorific output (burning calories through exercise and digestion) is equal to your calorific input (eating), you will stay at the same weight or if you calorific input (eating) is greater than your output, you will gain weight.
When it comes to cutting calories, it is important to remember that you cannot just cut as many as you want e.g. you cannot go from 2,000kcal a day to 900kcal. There are guidelines and measures in place to ensure you cut the correct number of calories to ensure you remain healthy. All of our bodies require calories to function and operate in everyday life. Calories are our fuel/energy source and allow our bodies to complete the most basic functions, such as breathing, circulating blood and digestion. If we do not have enough calories in our diet, we can become seriously ill which will negatively affect our overall health. The number of calories we can cut a day is worked out by calculating our basal metabolic rate and active metabolic rate. See my “Calculating your BMR and AMR” blog to calculate your calorie requirements and to work out how many calories you can safely cut a day.
Different diets for weight loss
When it comes to diets and nutrition, it is important to understand that there are many crazy approaches and diets out there on the internet that have not been scientifically proven. Believe it or not, there is not a single diet that works perfectly for everyone. All “diet plans” work differently for each individual as everyone has a different body type, different metabolism, different health status, different training methods and different nutritional requirements. All I would say is, if you are trying different diets to help with weight loss, be sure to read up on the pros and cons, as many have a number of complications / side effects as a result to putting your body under high levels of stress and sometimes, quickly.
Personally, the way I like to help my clients reduce their body fat percentage is by educating them on the basics of nutrition, calorific deficits and the importance of having a healthy, balanced diet. I would never recommend a specific diet. If an individual is to take part in physical activity, eat a healthy, balanced diet, manages to have the right intake levels of macro and micronutrients and most importantly are able to be within a safe calorific deficit, they will lose weight and feel good doing it!
Again, if the calorific output (exercise) is greater than calorific input (eating), weight loss will be experienced.
Tips to help create and maintain a calorific deficit, the important components of a diet and training tips to succeed
» Meal planning for the week / Meal prep
= Meal prepping is essentially preparing your meals in advance and storing them in containers for either the week or the next few days e.g. lunch and dinners. Meal prepping is extremely effective as you can portion out the correct amounts of food for each meal helping you avoid overeating, but it also makes things a lot easier! All you have to do is take it out of the fridge or freezer, heat it up if required and that’s it. Your meal is ready.
= Planning your meals in advance will ensure you have the correct ingredients in the kitchen, and you do not have to waste any time looking around in the cupboards and thinking what meal you just throw together. This helps structure to your diet and have you eating the correct foods.
» Understanding eating habits and the foods within your diet that counteract weight loss
= Snacking is something most of us do. The foods you are snacking on can however be the deciding factor of whether you lose weight or not. Snacking on something healthy and protein heavy is perfect for weight loss or muscle gain. This can be something such as carrot sticks or celery sticks with humous. Snacking on foods that are high in fats and sugars such as fizzy drinks, chocolates and biscuits will seriously counteract your weight loss efforts. These store as fats very quickly and also have a big impact on over internal health if too many are consumed regularly.
Healthy ideas = Carrot sticks w/ humous, unsalted nuts (in moderation), bell peppers, avocado, Greek yoghurt and berries, rice cakes etc
Unhealthy to avoid = Fizzy drinks, sweets, biscuits, high sugar snacks, high fat and salt snacks such as cakes and muffins etc. Mainly sugars
= No matter your training goal, water should be your best friend. Water is essential for our bodies to remain hydrated and function properly and efficiently. Water keeps us hydrated allowing us to remain alert and functioning, it reduces fatigue and also enhances our brain activity and concentration levels. Water is also great when it comes to weight loss as it aids digestion, but also reduces the sensation of feeling hungry. This is beneficial as it will help reduce portion sizes, but also help reduce the amount of snacking in between meals. The recommended amount of water is about 2litres a day, excluding water intake during exercise.
» High protein and high fibre meals whilst reducing carbohydrates
= Basing your meals around high protein and high fibre will benefit your weight loss journey as they are two essential components of our diet, but they also take longer to digest and create a fuller feeling for longer. This again will help reduce the hunger sensation and the need to snack in between meals.
= Carbohydrates are our bodies main energy source, so they are good, however, if you are consuming enough carbohydrates for the body to burn throughout in a day, you may not experience weight loss as you are simply giving your body the energy it needs to burn. The reduction of carbohydrates forces our bodies to find other energy sources within the body. This is our stored fat. If the body does not have enough carbs / glycogen, it will begin to convert fat into energy to burn.
= The combination of physical activity and a calorific deficit will result in weight loss whilst building a healthier, stronger body.
= Taking part in 30 minutes of exercise a day will help you consistently burn calories.
= It is recommended for most healthy adults to take part in either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week OR 75 minutes of vigorous, higher intensity aerobic activity a week. This can be anything from walking, cycling or running.
» Understand your training
= There is a common conception of to lose weight, you must do cardio every day or cardio is the only type of exercise you should do. This is misleading. Continuous training (cardio) is very beneficial for weight loss as calories are burned throughout, however, weight training is as good! Many have the idea that if they start weight training, they will be big and be bulky. That again, is not true. For that to happen, you have to lift heavy weights and have a diet that compliments that training.
Here are a few great training approaches that will help with calorie burning and weight loss:
1. Continuous training = Cardiovascular training such as jogging, rowing or cycling
2. Interval training = A technique that involves periods of HARD work followed by periods of ACTIVE recovery. For example, 30 second sprints at max effort, followed by 90 seconds of gentle jogging and so on.
3. Weight training = Lifting weights. Focusing on compound movements and adding resistance will burn calories! There are exercises such as squats, lunges, chest press, military press, deadlifts, triceps dips etc.
4. High intensity training = This consists of a variety of different exercises, usually done for time with short rest periods in between. This keeps your body working continuously and can involve either bodyweight exercises or can also incorporate weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells.
For further guidance, tips or training, send me an email and I will help you along your journey!