No one likes to be on a “diet,” which to me sounds scary and restrictive. Thinking about consuming the ideal nutrition to meet your goals feels more positive, and therefore is more likely to succeed.
Most of our patients could write a book on good nutrition, so the problem is rarely education, but more motivation. Can you name three things that you know are preventing you from reaching your goal weight? Mine are wine, potato chips/french fries, and not consuming enough protein. Yours may be sugar, portion control, snacking, or stress eating. Let’s start by making a commitment to focus on these three things, and reminding ourselves daily what they are, so that you control them, instead of them controlling you! Most of us know that reducing sugar and carbohydrates and increasing healthy protein is the scientifically proven most effective way to lose fat while maintaining or building muscle. We don’t want to lose muscle while we are losing weight for many reasons, but one is that muscle burns calories at rest, so we literally burn fat while we are sleeping. In addition, protein requires more calories to digest. So, what should you eat?
While everyone is different and your lifestyle may require some modifications to this plan, here are our 6 simple tips for nutrition that supports fat loss while maintaining muscle:
- 1. Drink a full glass of water before each meal or snack. Wait 5 minutes before you eat; your stomach will sense that it is full and you will eat less.
- 2. When you are looking at your favorite high-sugar or high-carbohydrate food, imagine your insulin going up after the food hits your stomach, and remember that insulin is a fat storing hormone. Maybe it doesn’t look so good anymore! Eliminate everything made with white sugar, and lower carbohydrates to 50-100 grams a day. Alcoholic drinks are a common source of sugar and carbs for many of us, so stick to vodka, gin or tequila with a zero-calorie mixer- just one a day so you don’t lose your judgement and eat a pint of icecream! (Been there, done that.) If you love wine, a dry red has half the carbs and sugar of a common white wine- so drink it slowly and enjoy every sip.
- 3. Consume 30-40 grams of protein 3-4 times a day to feed your muscles. For women, we need at least 100 grams of protein a day (shoot for 120) and for men, shoot for 160 grams. Eat your protein first (40 grams woud be a palm-sided 6 ounce serving of lean meat, fish or chicken, or may be a low carbohydrate protein shake or protein bar) and you will already feel full. We can also create a plan with plenty of protien if you are vegetarian!
- 4. Consider “intermittent fasting” which involves eating only for 8 hours a day. A popular routine is to consume calories only between 12-8 pm. While the jury is still out on whether this helps with weight loss for every person, it certianly helps for most! We have found that it can help enormously with the “fixation” that many of us have on food. Having a block of time that we know is is not for eating just frees the mind for more constructive things, eliminates snacking and helps us to really appreciate the foods that we are eating. Delaying (or skipping) breakfast forces us into fat-burning mode since we exhaust all of our stored fuel (especially if we exercise in a fasting state- more on that later), and not consuming any calories for 2 hours before bed allows us to go to sleep with low blood sugar, which allows us to have a more restful sleep, lowers cortisol and reduced fat storage at night.
- 5. Understanding that gut inflammation is highly linked with weight gain in countless studies, consider cutting out (or significantly reducing) the most highly inflammatory foods, especially gluten (everything made with wheat, barley or rye) and dairy. The good news is there are so many gluten and dairy free products out there, this is not as hard as you may think! Along with gut-friendly supplements (prebiotics and probiotics- more about these below) this can make a huge difference to the speed at which we burn fat.
- 6. To get you started, many of our patients choose a five-day “Prolon” plan. Prolon is a five-day meal program including plant-based energy bars, soups, snacks and supplements that have been proven to accelerate fat loss in multiple studies. And having early success has been shown to improve the likelihood of sticking to your plan.