Eat to Get Ahead: Part 1, Fat Loss

Apr 27th, 2013

Category: Body Composition

Eat to Get Ahead: Part 1, Fat Loss

When you open your refrigerator what is your first thought? Maybe it’s, “what am I craving?” Could be, “damn, I ate the entire Poppa John’s 5 sausage pizza in one sitting and now I don’t have any leftovers” (hope not).  Now think about your answer and consider this response: My first thought when opening the refrigerator is what nutrients does my body need”? If your answer didn’t match the third response then you’re not eating to get ahead, you’re simply eating to get by.

Eat to get ahead!

When you begin focusing on what nutrients your body needs, and start to respond to these thoughts with proper action, you will notice amazing changes in your body composition. It seems that just about everyone wants to lose body fat but not many people take the necessary steps to actually achieve this goal. Unfortunately, for the few who do decide to take the necessary steps, they  are often misguided by poor nutritional information.

I’ve documented hundreds of my clients’ nutritional habits over the past few years, and have seen re-occurring trends in the mistakes being made. I put together a list of the 6 most common mistakes I see, in hopes that you will be able to identify at least one of these, and make the change.

6 Most Common Mistakes for Fat Loss

1. Not eating frequent meals. It’s no secret that Americans have a tendency to eat three large meals per day. Unfortunately, this is far from ideal when it comes to losing fat. You should be eating smaller/ more frequent meals, and aiming for 5-8 meals per day. If total calories doesn’t seem to be the issue (too much/not enough) then try cutting those three big meals in half and turn them into six smaller meals. The problem with three big meals is this; your body generally only uses a certain amount of nutrients from each meal, and the rest will be wasted or stored as fat. Therefore, you should feed your body what it needs, and then refuel every two hours. After each meal you shouldn’t feel hungry, but you shouldn’t feel full, you should just have a nice energized feeling. Also, because of the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), frequent meals seem to boost your metabolism.  Meal frequency and its effect on metabolism has been a big controversy of late in the nutrition field. Regardless of whether (TEF) makes a significant difference or not, 5-8 meals per day have proven to be the best meal structure for fat loss.

Interestingly, I’ve seen that a lot of my clients don’t eat enough. Yes, overeating will make you fat, but not eating enough will do the same thing! When you skip meals your body senses starvation and enters fat storage mode. If you don’t skip meals, your body won’t be threatened by starvation and will be willing to burn fat at a much higher rate. The exception to this would be intermittent fasting which has shown to be a beneficial strategy for weight loss.

2. Eating sugar/wheat. The most beneficial change you can make when it comes to fat loss is to completely cut sugar (other than fruit) and wheat out of your program. To make it quite transparent, insulin spikes are your worst nightmare when you’re dieting for fat loss. Most people know that any type of sugar is associated with insulin spikes, but research suggests that wheat also has much of the same effect. In fact, Dr. William Davis, author of “Wheat Belly” suggests that high levels of amylopectin- a which is found in wheat, cause it to spike blood sugar levels even more than white sugar. So the next time you see the label “100% Whole Wheat”, shake your head and say; “thanks for the warning”.

3. Not eating protein at every meal. I’ll keep this one simple. You should never eat a meal that lacks protein. Protein keeps you feeling full and is the most essential macronutrient for your body. People may think that they’re doing well by just eating an apple as a snack, and even though this is better than nothing, they are doing a disservice to themselves by not eating protein along with the apple.

Protein is essential for maintaining/ building muscle. Maintaining muscle while you diet is the key to successful long- term fat loss. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, so the more muscle you have the more calories your burning at a resting state. Also congruent with the (TEF), you end up burning around 25% of calories (from protein) just by breaking down these proteins.

4. Drinking calories. A good rule of thumb is this– all calories should come from food, never ingest calories from a liquid. You will be amazed how quickly you can drop body fat just by beginning to drink only water and green tea. If you drink a 12 ounce Coke/Pepsi every day it equates to 15.4 lbs of fat by the end of the year. What’s even scarier  is that this is only from a caloric standpoint; this statistic doesn’t consider the biochemical and hormonal influence sugar has on fat storage. Fruit juices are also not a good alternative because of the added sugar that these juices contain.

Also try to stay away from artificially sweetened drinks even though they may not have any calories. Aspartame has a damaging effect at the biochemical level, and according to recent research could possibly even spike blood sugar levels.

I don’t mean to bore you to death with details of research on diet soda, but I will anyways because it’s pretty interesting. In a 2011 study, researchers collected waist circumference and diet soda intake data from 474 elderly people. They were re-assessed 9.5 years later and researchers found that the diet soda drinkers had waist circumference increases of 70 percent greater than non-diet soda drinkers. In addition people who drank diet soda the most frequently — at least two diet sodas per day — had waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than people who didn’t drink any diet soda.

5. Eating processed foods. Think about it this way—if a caveman couldn’t get his hands on it, it’s not meant for your body. If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can it’s most likely not meant for your body. Processed foods make up a large portion of the American diet and not without consequence. These processed foods are very low in nutrients and high in trans- fats and sodium. Several studies have showed a strong correlation between trans-fat consumption and weight gain

6. Not eating enough healthy fats. A common notion is that dietary fat makes you fat. It’s true that too much dietary fat can lead to weight gain, but the right fats in the correct quantities can actually help you lose fat. You should be aiming for 25% of your total calories coming from fat with a balance between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Hopefully you have identified at least one of these mistakes and will be able to make the changeto your diet so that you can start stripping fat. Try to stay as consistent as possible, but allow yourself four cheat meals per week (assuming you’re eating 35 meals per week). I can pretty much guarantee you that making these changes to your diet won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. After all, nothing worth having comes easy.

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