Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard it before. Calories in versus calories out. Blah, blah, blah. But stop and think…what is weight watchers? What is Nutrisystem? What is paleo? What are many, many, many of the other labeled “diets”? Basically, when it comes down to it, you are eating in a caloric deficit to lose weight. There are so many different ways to go about this that it can make your head spin. And it probably has!!!
I’m here to try to simplify it. Because who else feels that the more simplified it is, the easier it is to stick to? *raising my hand*
First, you need to figure out how many calories you need to live your life. Not your brother’s, not your sister’s, not your spouse’s, or anyone else. Yours. If you don’t know this yet, I’ve explained it in this blog post and it includes links to the best calculators I’ve found.
Second, now that you know what your caloric needs are to lose weight/fat, download the app MyFitnessPal. This app will truly be a best friend. It takes only a few minutes to enter your food on this app. Don’t say you don’t have time. Everyone can carve out just a few minutes a day. Especially if you truly want to lose a little or a lot of weight. Just spend 5 less minutes scrolling on those social media apps. :)
Third, get yourself a food scale. They aren’t expensive and are really easy to use. There are literally hundreds of them on Amazon. I suggest getting one that holds the plate higher than the readout or, get a sleek one like mine and use glass (see through) bowls and plates (so you can read the weights). I use the same plates and bowls and so I don’t have to keep weighing them before I add the food. It just makes for quicker calculations. Example, my glass bowl is 425 grams. I usually add 100 grams of oatmeal, 20 grams of strawberries and 10 grams of unsweetened almond milk in the morning. My scale reading would start at 425, then would be 525 after the oatmeal, 545 after the strawberries and 555 after the almond milk. Does that make sense?
For at LEAST a couple days, portion your food as you normally would, weigh it and enter it into MyFitnessPal. This practice will give you an idea of the calories per meal or snack of things you normally eat in your normal portions. It is also, again, getting you comfortable with weighing food. Don’t freak out at the numbers! You are going to be doing the calculations to match your TDEE within a couple days. A couple days will neither make you gain 20 pounds or lose 20 pounds. Stay calm and just practice.
Now after a couple days, or when you feel comfortable with the practice, start paying attention to the total calories you are eating and drinking. Yes, don’t forget to enter your beverages as well. MyFitnessPal also helps you keep track of your water intake. It is a good reminder to drink more water! Your body is 70% water. It needs water. Drink at least a gallon a day. Just do it. This doesn’t affect your calories. Try to make sure you are at your TDEE that was calculated for fat loss. You don’t have to hit the numbers dead on but try to keep them somewhat close.
Biggest rule #1: Eighty percent of your food should be whole, nutritious, give-your-body-what-it-needs foods. Veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, healthy proteins. The other 20%? Use those calories for the foods you love. This way, you won’t deprive yourself. A deprived person rarely will stick with any “diet”. And they will be grumpy. And cranky. You CAN have the foods you enjoy in reasonable portion sizes and still lose body fat. You just have to account for them, which is in that 20%.
Biggest rule #2: Strive to eat enough protein. Generally, the calories you eat should fall within these three categories and their respective percentages: protein 40%, carbs 30%, fats 30%. Use these as a general guideline. Put the most emphasis on hitting your protein percentage.
Biggest pitfall #1: Not correctly measuring your food. Now don’t freak out! It isn’t as hard as it seems. Promise. Pinky promise. Practice a little and you’ll feel comfortable with it in no time.
Biggest pitfall #2: Eating low amounts of whole foods and high amounts of processed food. While yes, calories in vs. calories out doesn’t look at TYPES of food, you still need to eat nutritious foods! Remember above where I mentioned 80/20? Yeah, do that.
Biggest pitfall #3: Thinking that if you blow your calories one day, that you might as well give up. Even through all of this, you still have a life! Live it!!! If you know that you are going on a date, have a kid’s party, potluck at work, whatever it is, try to plan it in your WEEKLY totals. For instance, say your TDEE is 1,550 calories per day to lose body fat. Your weekly total is 10,850 calories. What if one day you go over by 600 calories? Ok. No big deal. The other 6 days, consume 1,450 calories. (10,850 – 1,550 – 600 = 8,700 calories left for 6 days; 8,700/6 = 1,450).
Remind yourself of this:
- It took time to put on. It will take time to take off.
- Fats do not make you fat.
- Don’t demonize foods or food groups. You’ll end up depriving yourself and deprivation doesn’t work in the long run.
Hope that makes sense. If not, always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to personally explain it further.