All too often I hear people telling me that they want to lose weight, whereas the reality is that they just want to tone up and lose fat. In fact, when you increase your protein intake and introduce strength training alongside cardio (all key factors in changing the way your body looks), the likelihood is that you will gain muscle, which weighs more than fat. Therefore the end results may be less ‘weight loss’ than intended, but a lot more lean muscle gained.
When it comes to reducing body fat, calories are the most important factor that we should be tracking. There are various other considerations that come into play, but setting a calorie deficit target and consistently sticking to it is a sure fire way to reduce body fat. In this article I cover 5 simple steps you need to do right in order to have any chance of achieving your goals:
Step 1: Setting a calorie target – realistic fat loss
Step 2: Calorie/food tracking tool
Step 3: The importance of macronutrients
Step 4: Macronutrient examples
Step 5: Weighing yourself
STEP 1: SETTING A CALORIE TARGET
Whilst there are all sorts of fad diets out there, from the Atkins diet to fasting diets, they are all mostly based around one thing – reducing calories. It’s really important to set a calorie target that’s relevant to your current body weight and stick to it. This is the single most important thing when it comes to losing fat. The best online calorie target calculator we’ve found is BMI Calories.
This will be a great indicator and starting point for you to set a target. Fill in your details and look
at the results table for their recommendations. Note these down.
REALISTIC FAT LOSS
Now you’ve filled in your details, it’s important to set a realistic and safe fat loss target. Often people will aim for the highest amount of fat loss possible as they want to reach their target faster.
This isn’t always the best idea because aiming for faster fat loss means that you’ll have to cut more calories, which can make the diet unsustainable and could undermine your efforts. As your body responds to a massive reduction in calories, it will crave higher calorie foods and
your dieting will become tougher. This often leads to people losing weight quickly for 2 weeks
then messing up their dieting and putting the weight back on as it becomes harder to resist
cravings. Therefore, most dieticians recommend aiming for 0.5-1kg (1.1-2.2lb) of weight loss per week.
STEP 2: CALORIE/FOOD TRACKING TOOL
There are many calorie tracking tools available, all with unique features that set them apart from each other; however, there is a resounding leader as the most used calorie tracking tool in the world and that is MyFitnessPal.
Click here: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/
This easy to use smartphone app (also available on desktop) enables you to input all of your food and drinks and track the calories, protein, carbs and fat. You can even use your phone’s camera to scan barcodes of the products you consume!
STEP 3: THE IMPORTANCE OF MACRONUTRIENTS
Macronutrients are nutrients that our bodies need in large quantities in order to function properly. Without them our bodies cannot grow, repair damage, fight infections or perform all of its essential requirements.
There are three macronutrients for humans:
It’s really helpful to track these macronutrients and set targets while dieting as each macronutrient helps us with different aspects. Protein, for example, helps build and maintain muscle while carbohydrates provide energy.
MACRONUTRIENT TARGETS FOR REDUCING BODY FAT
Now you know it’s important to track macronutrients, we can begin to look at what target you
should aim for. It’s important to note that these macronutrient targets can be added into
MyFitnessPal. So every time you enter in a new food it automatically updates the macronutrient counters for you, making it very easy to track.
A really handy macronutrient calculator can be found here:
Simply enter your measurements and your goal and the calculator will work out your optimal
macronutrient split. Now that you’ve calculated your calorie target and downloaded MyFitnessPal, please enter this macronutrient split into your goals on the app.
STEP 4: MACRONUTRIENT EXAMPLES
Here is a short list of foods that are great for a calorie restricted diet. It’s important to enter
these foods into MyFitnessPal and see how high they are in calories. You can then play around
with which ones you prefer, different quantities etc.
High protein foods include:
- Lean beef
- Chick peas and legumes
Low calorie foods:
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
*potatoes are actually an excellent dieting food. According to LiveStrong: “Plain potatoes, whether white or sweet, are fat-free, rich in nutrients, and low in calories; they make a good addition to any weight-loss diet”
Great, natural soures of healthy fats include:
- Nuts & seeds
STEP 5: WEIGHING YOURSELF
Weighing yourself is the easiest way to track your progress whilst dieting.
Whilst many weight loss organisations have weekly weigh-ins, we realise that this can be a very risky thing to do.
For example, a litre of water weighs exactly 1kg (2.2lb), so if you turn up to a weekly weigh-in having stuck to your diet, but you were thirsty and had a 500ml bottle of water before going in, you will weigh 1.1lb heavier than before the water.
This can leave you feeling disappointed that your week of strict dieting and calorie tracking hasn’t worked when, in reality, it probably has worked – it was just the water that added the weight. There are a whole host of other factors that affect your weight and create fluctuations from day-to-day.
TIP: Weigh yourself DAILY and work out the weekly average.
We also recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning once you’ve been to the toilet, but before you consume any food or liquids. This is the time that’s most likely to reflect your true weight.
It’s also worth noting that, if you combine a healthy diet with an exercise regime, you can expect to tone up and add muscle mass. As a result, over time, your weight could even increase.
Here’s a breakdown of the steps you need to take after reading this guide:
Step 1: Set a calorie target based on your current weight, activity and target weekly weight loss.
Step 2: Download MyFitnessPal to your smartphone.
Step 3: Add the calorie target and macronutrient targets to MyFitnessPal.
Step 4: Use the foods recommended to help you stick to your daily protein, carb and fat targets.
Step 5: Weigh yourself every morning and once a week, calculate the mean average weight. This will show the true trend of your weight/fat loss journey.
Stick to this plan and you WILL lose weight. If you have any questions about this guide, please feel free to contact me.