Every fitness organization that I’m aware of agrees that when it comes to fat loss, the biggest influence on losing fat comes through nutrition (not exercise). If you visit here often, then you should know how I feel about the importance of strength training. However, if you want to lose fat, nutrition is certainly something in addition to strength training to work on.
Strength training does help the fat loss process because it can help increase your metabolism. For example, if a person goes on a diet without effective strength training, he/she will lose a mixture of fat, muscle and maybe even other tissues. Losing muscle tissue causes a slowdown of your metabolism, so going on a diet without effective strength training is not a good thing! Strength training helps to retain your muscle tissue, and does as much as you can to increase your metabolism and keep it as high as possible during the fat loss process. Having said all that, nutrition is still the big player when we’re talking about wanting to lose fat. Depending on which fitness organization you’re talking to, you’ll hear estimates anywhere from as low as 70% to as high as 90% of results for fat loss being attributed to nutrition.
Nutrition is just like exercise in that there are a lot of different ideas out there that you see on TV or hear from friends, and a lot of them are contradictory to each other. There are a lot of competing theories, so nutrition is just like exercise in that it’s bewildering for a lot of people to figure out what’s right, what’s wrong, and how they should proceed.
I’ve got personal experience in this area. Along with my multiple Strength and Conditioning certifications, I am also a certified sports nutritionist. Over the years I’ve designed, implemented and updated hundreds of fully customized eating programs for a broad array of fitness participants from elite athletes to average Joe’s. It’s beyond the scope of this article to get too in depth into the specific details of creating custom Personal Eating Plans, but I do want to mention a couple of very useful principles for nutrition if someone wants to get leaner and lose fat.
The first thing I would suggest would be to eat fewer refined carbohydrates. Examples of refined carbohydrates include: table sugar, foods in which sugar is included as an added ingredient, soda-pop/soft drinks, pastries, breakfast cereal, as well as refined grains such as bread and pasta. The reason why limiting refined carbohydrates can be helpful in losing fat is that if you eat less refined carbohydrates, you’re going to have fewer spiked increases in your blood sugar levels, and lower blood sugar will cause your body to secrete less of the hormone insulin, which is the primary hormone that causes your body to store fat. You don’t want to be producing your fat storing hormone (insulin) if you’re trying to get leaner!
Refined carbohydrates are the biggest culprit for causing your body to want to secrete insulin. If someone wanted to pick the biggest bang for their buck for making a minor change to their nutrition habits, it would be to focus on trying to eat fewer refined carbohydrates (even if that means just eating half as much bread as you used to). For a fair amount of people, doing just this one new habit will help them get leaner. In my experience, it’s not terribly hard to eat fewer refined carbohydrates. It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them totally. Even by making a little bit of a reduction, you’ll be better off than not making any change at all.
The second thing that can help the fat-loss process (and for some people if they want to lose significant fat this is necessary) is to limit the number of total calories that you eat. Eating small (low-calorie), meals throughout the day is one good strategy to help limit the number of calories you’re consuming. If you combine those two strategies—eating fewer refined carbohydrates and also eating a limited number of calories in small, meals and snacks throughout the day—you’ll be well on your way to a leaner body.
Where should you start? In my experience I’ve found that for those requiring reduced calorie intake the following guidelines were extremely helpful:
Moderate Calorie: 1500-1800 men; 1200-1500 women
High Protein: 1.5 grams protein x 50% ideal body weight
High Water: 1 oz. x 50% ideal body weight
High Vegetables: unlimited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)
Moderate Fruit: Limited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)
Example based on the above guidelines:
Female with ideal target weight of 130 pounds.
Protein = 100 grams minimum daily (1.5 grams x 65*)
Water = 65 oz. minimum daily (1 oz. x 65)
Begin with meeting protein intake requirements. Then add Fruit & Vegetable and friendly fat while remaining within daily calorie guidelines.
PAU for NOW
For those interested in fully customized Personal Eating Plans contact TAKU at: firstname.lastname@example.org Put NUTRITION in the subject line.
*rounded up for convenience.