The 3 Things You Need to Do When Eating for Weight Loss
To lose weight, you’re going to have to train hard and change the way you eat. Simply put, we need to start eating for weight loss. For some of you, it might mean eating more nutrient dense foods. Others will need to shift macronutrient (carbs, proteins and fats) intake. Either way there are some fast and hard rules to help you on your journey.
To make everything easier, here are 3 simple tips on how to lose weight.
Tip 1: Cut down liquid sugars – especially alcohol
Ah, the ever-controversial topic of liquid sugars. Most of my clients know that sodas are bad for them. Some even recognize the need to cut out fruit juice. But rarely is the dieter willing to admit their alcohol consumption could be the culprit. Remember, eating for weight loss includes the liquid calories that you drink.
Listen: If you’re a moderate drinker (4-7 drinks a week, up to 14 for men) and all else remains equal, cutting out alcohol from your diet WILL make you lose fat. Take your standard glass of red wine. At about 125 calories per glass, four of those a week is giving you 500 extra calories. Double that and you’re at 1000 calories a week that are doing nothing for you nutritionally.
And that’s just if nutrition were as simple as caloric intake. Which, as we know, it isn’t. Liquid sugars basically trick your brain into thinking it’s being fed without all of the benefits of actual food. So it triggers an insulin response that isn’t met with the appropriate digestive measures to slow it down.
We’re all familiar with alcohol’s tendency to contribute to, um, poorer decisions. It’s much easier to justify a third slice of pizza after a few beers. And harder to stay on track with your other goals. Alcohol consumption also negatively affects sleep quality, which directly affects your heart rate, metabolism, hormones, mood and more.
Find this especially difficult? Most do. Start with replacing one drink with a soda water and lime, make sure to eat before you go out, and practice other de-stressing tactics.
Tip 2: Protein at Every Meal
Eating for weight loss means consuming enough protein. Assuming you’re healthy (no glaring kidney or liver issues) a high protein diet is the way to go. Think about it – Paleo, the Mediterranean Diet, the Zone Diet, even that old school Atkins diet all have one thing in common – they involve an increase in protein. While everyone is going on and on about fats vs carbs, protein plays the silent hero in the background.
In the average Western diet, adequate protein intake is hard to find. Even if you think you get enough, it’s still an area to focus on if you’re trying to lose weight. Especially around workouts. Protein plays critical roles in recovery and stress management. And it’s REALLY hard to lose (and keep off) good weight if you’re chronically stressed.
Here are a few reasons why you should get protein at every meal.
Protein makes you feel full – protein mitigates the insulin response, and most animal proteins are slowly released. Meaning it’ll be longer before you’re ready to graze again. But because it makes you full, it’s hard to get enough of your daily intake by trying to stuff it into just two (or even three) meals.
Stress management – when your body is under stress, arginine and glutamine can help your recovery process and healing activity. Too much stress leads to inflammation, which has been shown to damage the walls of your blood vessels. A singular stress response can be managed well by the body, and even contribute to positive tissue growth as the body adapts. Too much stress, however, causes a hormone overload that leads to high blood pressure and plaque build up from blood vessel damage.
Protein rebuilds the body – Amino acids in proteins contribute to tissue structure, hormones, enzymes and immune function. They play a role in almost every metabolic activity, which means they are responsible for your energy balance. And energy imbalance can lead to weight gain. Look to lean, whole food options for slower absorption, more vitamins and minerals
Faster metabolic rate – more proteins, more muscle tissue, more muscle cells with more energy-burning potential. And a higher metabolic rate increases your chances to lose weight.
Tip 3: Replace Fatty Meats with Veggies
While I’ll be the first to say you need fats in your diet (about ⅓ of your diet in most cases), most North Americans get too much from the saturated variety. Animal fats such as butter, eggs and red meats dominate our plate. And while we fill up on those, we’re sorely lacking in pistachios, macadamia nuts, olive oils, avocados and fish. Just like everything- it’s all about balance.
Just a half pound of sirloin runs you around 500 calories and most of your saturated fat intake for the day. If you’re like most folks, eating a steak dinner isn’t uncommon. But what happens if you divide that in two and replace it with the vegetable of your choice? You replace that satiety-quenching fat with fiber and get a great source of carbs to control your insulin. Plus you get the benefits of diversifying your diet with vitamins and minerals.
No one’s saying you have to give up the bacon. Saturated fat by itself isn’t necessarily bad for you. But combined with a diet high in sugar and low in other fats, it can be. But taking a smaller portion and replacing that same amount of food with vegetables is a quick way to establish a caloric deficit. For other tips on establishing a caloric deficit, read How to Eat Less Food and Lose Weight in 5 Steps . Of course, the sudden shift in calories might make you hungry, even with the benefits of fiber. Try adding in half an avocado or a tablespoon of olive oil on your broccoli to quell that desire with mono and polyunsaturated fats.
Important – make it a vegetable you actually like. If you don’t like brussel sprouts, don’t force them down your throat while you covet that extra meat patty. That’s never going to last. Find a veggie you like, find a way to flavor it, and it’ll make the substitution seamless.
Meal 1 – 3 Egg Omelet with Mushroom, Onion, Spinach, Bowl of Fresh Fruit
Meal 2 – Greek Yogurt and Granola with Berries
Meal 3 – 6 oz Grilled Salmon with Lemon Herb Asparagus
Meal 4 – 4 oz 90% Lean Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps (Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Cabbage, Avocado)
Meal 5 – 4 oz Roasted Chicken, Zucchini and Tomatoes over 1 cup Black Bean Pasta
Already doing all of these things? Looking for more advanced tips on how to lose weight? Sign up for a nutrition consultation to discover exactly how to manipulate your macronutrients, caloric intake and meal timing to dial things in.