9 Unconventional Tips For Better Sleep

You have undoubtedly heard that you need eight hours of sleep per night, but the negative impacts of insufficient sleep are rarely explained.

Inadequate sleep damages your health, weakens the immune system, negatively impacts mood, cognitive function and can wreak havoc on your metabolism and hormones.

The  health risks of inadequate sleep are undeniable, and the effects can be experienced from head to toe, especially from the perspective of fat loss.

Sleep deprivation is a significant stressor and can be a barrier to managing your appetite, making healthier food choices and having the energy for a good workout.

If that wasn’t convincing enough there’s even studies that have shown those who are chronically sleep deprived will eat a greater volume of food, and make less healthy choices.

So now that you have all this information on the importance of sleep, how do you go about improving you sleep habits and quality ?

That’s exactly what we’re covering next

Tips and Routines For Better Sleep:

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1.) Create Your Sleep Cave:

Remove as many electronics as you can from the bedroom. Even small amounts of light from a text message or alarm clock can impact sleep quality.

Get the room as dark as you can and cover any sources of external lights. Blacking out the windows can be very helpful in getting the room as dark as possible.

Hang a blanket over the window or head to the store and get blackout shades that block light entirely from coming into your room.

For many people sleeping in a slightly colder room actually helps them fall and stay asleep, but adjust the room temperature for your specific needs.

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2.) Set a bedtime alarm:

If you use an alarm to help you wake up why wouldn’t you use one to remind yourself it’s time to avoid screens, and start getting ready for a good night of sleep.

With how busy modern lives are time flies by, especially when you get to finally relax at night time. Setting a bedtime  alarm will keep you accountable to your new sleep routine.

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3.) Avoid screen time:

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to sleep disruption in daily life is the constant bombardment of blue lights.

From the moment you wake up until falling asleep you are literally bathing in blue lights from cell phones, computers, tablets  and TVs.

The light emitted from these devices is damaging to your sleep and health because of the melatonin suppressing effect it has.

Melatonin is a hormone that controls your wake and sleep cycles, and suppressed production of melatonin at night will lead to disrupted sleep patterns.

Blue lights have the greatest melatonin suppressing effects of any light frequency you encounter on a daily basis.

Unfortunately the very devices you take everywhere; computers, tablets, and phones are the richest sources of this sleep disrupting blue light.

Avoid screens for sixty minutes before bed, if that seems like too much start with fifteen minutes and work up to sixty.

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4.) Supplement With Magnesium:

A game changed for a number of my nutrition clients in helping them wind down for the night and get better sleep is using a magnesium supplement.

Magnesium is a very difficult mineral to get enough of in the diet, and is especially important for muscle relaxation which is why it helps with sleep.

When taken at night magnesium has a calming effect that helps to enhance getting and staying asleep, you could even take a bath and use a magnesium bath salt.

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5.) Stretching/mobility:

Our bodies are brilliantly designed, and can handle short term acute stresses very well. During stressful situations the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) takes over to helps mobilize energy and deal with fight or flight situations.

On the opposite side of the coin our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is designed to help us rest, digest and recover.

By stretching or doing mobility for 5-15 minutes before bed you will be able to shift your body into the parasympathetic state to help with relaxation, and a good night of  sleep.  

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6.) Exercise:  

Physical exertion from exercise and moving more throughout the day whether that be from going on a day hike, strength training or even making sure to hit 10,000 steps per day helps people to fall asleep quick and induces higher quality sleep. 

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7.) Read a book:

This is the one case in life when falling asleep while reading a book is a good thing! Avoid overly stimulating books such as suspense or mysteries.  

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8.) Journaling:

Use this as a review or debrief of your day. Write down one thing that went well and one thing that didn’t go well, and how you played a part in each one.

You can also use this as a platform to write down anything you need to get off your mind and onto paper before sleeping.

Try not to do this too close to bedtime because if there is something stressful or agitating it has the potential to occupy your thoughts and keep you awake as you try to sleep.

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9.) Use Technology To Your Advantage:

With the importance of sleep being widely recognized and the damaging effects of blue light, the market has responded with some great products to block blue light even if you’re using a screen before bed.

The first is a free program named f.lux that you can download on your computer. It  changes the amount of blue light your screen emits based on the time of day for your region.

F.lux shifts the color from sleep disrupting blue light to an amber, which  can be helpful if you have to get some late night work done or are watching a show on your computer.

The next would be blue blocker glasses, while they aren’t going to win you any fashion awards these are highly effective for blocking blue lights.

By putting these glasses on an hour or two before bed you allow the body to begin making melatonin which improves both sleep quality and duration.

Blue blocker glasses are very inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores, or on amazon.

Lastly we will be covering what to do about the blue light from smartphones or tablets. If you have any Iphone or Ipad there is a “Night Shift Mode” that reduces the blue light and shifts the spectrum to more of an amber color.

If you have another brand of smartphone or tablet there are blue light shields that can be purchased and placed on the screen of your device like a screen protector. These shields block the blue light from your smartphone or tablet.

How To Organize These Habits To Improve Sleep:

There are a number of ways to improve your sleep quality that take place in the hours before your head hits the pillow.

Developing these habits will take a little extra work on your part, but the juice is worth the squeeze.

Start by getting your sleep cave in order. Even if all the above pre bed habits are in place without a good environment for sleep, you will still fall short.

Get the electronics out of the room, block the light and get the room the right temperature for your optimal sleep.

After your sleep cave is organized adopt a single bedtime habit to work on. By trying to change too much too soon with your routine it will only be a recipe for stress and overwhelm.

After you have that bedtime habit in place for two to three weeks, adopt another habit to stack on top of it and start developing your bedtime routine for rock solid sleep!

 

Cheers,

Alex “ Rocks Sleep Like Me” McMahon

The 5 Quickest & Easiest Ways To Break A Fat Loss Plateau

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The reality of a fat loss journey is that it that at some point your progress will slow down or come to complete stop for some of you.

This is inevitable because when fat loss is the goal you’re playing a game of stimulus and adaptations, the stimulus is you eating fewer calories than your burning and the adaptation is for the body to use body fat as a source of fuel.

Generally when fat loss fully stalls out it means your body has adapted the current stimulus, but you see this is where most people go wrong and end up wrecking their progress.

Most people aren’t accurately measuring their progress which means even if they’re stepping on the scale at the exact same time of day each day of the week they’re likely not doing progress pictures and measurements with it.

Along with that I doubt many people take that information and plug it into a spreadsheet so they can see exactly what their body is doing week to week.

I know most people don’t do this because it’s what I do for all my clients and everyone in my challenges and it completely changes how they view fat loss progress, and stalls.

When someone experiences a true fat loss stall these are the exact steps I recommend pulled directly from the Live Leaner Longer Challenge 12 week workbook.  

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Step # 1: Make Sure Fat Loss Has Actually Stalled

Far too often people have a day or two where their scale has remained the same or even increased a little and their response is to slash calories aggressively, and start thinking about another gym session or extra cardio.

This is a knee jerk reaction that will hurt their long term results, and this is where having someone to objectively look over the data and tell them to chill a bit can be very helpful.

Take at least two weeks worth of measurements, scale weight and progress pictures at the exact same time of day after eating similar foods and look at the averages for two weeks.

If there is no progress in scale weight, measurements and clothes aren’t fitting any looser and your progress pics look the exact same you may actually be stalled out.

However if the scale isn’t moving but you’re measurements are going down and you’re looking leaner than carry on, you’re still making progress.

If things stayed stalled out on all three home fronts continue to step # 2.

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Step # 2: Make Some Lower Calorie Swaps

By making some lower calorie swaps it doesn’t force you to necessarily change any big behavior changes, however saving a few hundred calories here and there with lower calorie swaps can add up significantly towards your fat loss goal.

In essence you can mindlessly reduce calories, and still enjoy many of your favorite foods but just eating a lower calorie version of them.

Some easy lower calorie swaps would be:

  • Pasta for spaghetti squash or miracle noodles

  • Pasta for zucchini or carrot noodles

  • Rice for cauliflower rice

  • Whole eggs with egg whites

  • Half your denser carbs and double the veggies

  • Use almond cashew milk/creamer instead of a heavier creamer

  • Replace caloric beverages with low or zero cal beverages like Zevia, Kombucha and flavored seltzer water.

  • Use half the oil and replace with calorie free spray

  • Exchange a bun and wrap a burger in lettuce

  • Exchange tortillas for a romaine lettuce as a “taco shell

  • Ditch soda for seltzer water, lime , mint and sliced cucumbers

  • Exchange hashbrowns for spaghetti squash cooked the same way

  • Exchange a hamburger bun for a roasted portabella mushroom bun

Now let’s assume you’ve made some of those lower calorie swaps, and they don’t seem to be adding up after two weeks.

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Step # 3: Track Your Food Intake

If you’re someone who already tracks your calories and macros you can skip to step #4, but if you’re not in that camp this is where getting some objective data through 3-5 days of tracking can be very helpful to identify any specific dietary habits that are holding you back.

Many times people are just eating more than they think they are, and one of the biggest perpetrators are the sneaky snacks, bites and licks which all add up over the course of weeks and months.

Get the app myfitness pal app and track everything you eat for the next 3-5 days, I’ve yet to have a client who’s done this and hasn’t come back with a few “aha” moments.

Some common healthy foods that can still be dense in calories, and easy to overdo are:

  • Salad dressings (180-190 cals per 2 Tbsp)

  • Nuts (especially roasted and salted) (160 calories in ¼ C)

  • Nut butters (190 cals per 2 Tbsp)

  • Granola Bars (Vary depending on bar but 190 cals - 250 cals on average)

  • “Health” bars (vary greatly but many are 300+ calories per bar)

  • Oils (120-130 cals per Tbsp)

  • Granola (360 calories per 77g)

  • Butter (102 cals per Tbsp)

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Step # 4: Reduce Your Calories by 5-8%

Situations like this are when tracking calories and macros can be useful as you can see exactly what your calorie intake looks like for a few days then go back to non calorie tracking if that’s your preferred method.

So from here when you have your calories you multiply them by either 0.05 or 0.08 depending on how quick and big a deficit someone wants to do.

Usually i’ll drop my clients intake by 5% to begin with and if they tolerate that really well, and want speed things up a bit we’ll go into the 7-8% range instead.

You can  make this reduction in calories from either carbs or fats, as they are less important when dieting for fat loss  than protein.

The problem is you can only drop calories so far before you feel horrible, so another approach you can use it to move more, but not in the way you may be thinking.

At some point if calories start to get lower another alternative to dropping calories is going to be to increase daily activity levels.

Walking helps to increase your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis also known as NEAT.

“Your first question is likely what is NEAT ?”

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Step # 5 Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT):

NEAT Is the low grade activities that you do on a day to day basis such as walking, going from sitting to standing, fidgeting, getting ready for work or walking in the grocery store. This is the amount of calories you burn when you’re not trying to exercise or raise your heart rate, eating or sleeping.

Your next question is  likely “why would I walk for fat loss ? Shouldn’t I be doing something more intense.”

Your day to day NEAT activities end up burning far more calories than you give it credit for. In large you don’t give too much conscious thought to your day to day activity, thus don’t consider the impacts it has on fat loss.

For this reason a lot of the calories that you burn from NEAT fly underneath the radar, partly because it doesn’t leave you drenched in sweat and out of breath.

Most people who are looking to lose body fat  seem to think that spending an hour at the gym makes up for an otherwise sedentary life, but the amount of calories that are burned at the gym are low compared to the calories you expend through NEAT on a daily basis.

If you compare someone who works at a desk job to someone who is on their feet all day like a  manual laborer or waitress the caloric burn from NEAT for a laborer or waiter can could be upwards of double the desk jockey.

Now I’m not saying that you need change your career to reach your fat loss goals, but getting out and walking more can help boost your fat loss without putting extra stress on the body.

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Here are a few ways you can increase your daily NEAT activity:

1.) Walk More:

This is the easiest way for you to increase your NEAT levels, and can be the difference between making progress or just maintaining being frustrated with your lack of fat loss.

Because everyone is different our calorie burn will also differ greatly and most people will be able to to burn between 150-300 calories per 30-45 minutes of walking.

At the end of the day trying to calculate the amount of calories you’re burning from walking more doesn’t matter all that much - you just need to know to walk more, and have a goal to hit.

Hitting a specific goal is a great way to ensure you get enough walking per day. You can shoot for the standard 10,000 steps, distance or time walking as a way to help you increase your NEAT.

Here are some simple ways you can increase your walking throughout the day:

  • Go For A 30 Minute Morning Walk

  • Walk To Work

  • Walk At Lunch for 20 minutes

  • Walk On A Treadmill While Watching TV

  • Use A Treadmill Desk

  • Get A Dog/ Walk Your Dog

  • Instead of Email Walk To Tell Coworkers Messages @ Work

  • Take The Stairs

  • Park Further Away and Walk

  • Get Off The Bus/Subway A Few Stops Early and Walk

  • Batch All Your Calls Into One Time and Walk & Talk

2.) Get A Pedometer:

Now this seems to go hand in hand with the very first way to increase NEAT which is walking but getting a pedometer has shown to help people increase their daily step count by nearly 2,000 steps per day!

That means that by simply having a pedometer you’re more aware of how much you’ve been moving throughout the day and will be more likely to go for that extra walk to hit your daily step count.

3.) Mow The Lawn

4.) Clean The House More Frequently

5.) Use A standing Desk and Alternate Standing/Sitting Work

Using a standing desk is a convenient way to make sure you’re not sitting too much but pretty much anything you can do to ensure that you’re standing more is going to be a step in the right direction.

Part of the reason why standing is beneficial is because it helps to raise our heart rate and in turn causes us to burn more calories throughout the day.

While the amount of calories burned through extra standing on a day to day basis may be small, when you accrue those calories of the course of weeks and months it adds up significantly.

6.) Wash Your Car

7.) Don’t Crush Yourself AT The Gym Everyday :

This last point may seem counterintuitive since so many people think you need to be really sore or leave the gym drenched in sweat to have gotten a good workout.

If you’re too sore and beat up from a work out earlier in the week your willingness to want to get up and move around more throughout the day is going to be reduced because that movement is going to be painful.  

These are just a few of the tools in the tool belt when it comes to recognizing a true fat loss plateau and breaking through it.

And if you have a fat loss goal, why would you want to  go it alone and likely struggle and waste more of your time not reaching your goals ?

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5 Ways To Lose Body Fat Without Tracking Your Calories

 

For a period of time most people should track their calories, it’s a useful skill that helps you better understand portion sizes, and the caloric density of food.

This is especially important for anyone who has a fat loss goal, or who’s fat loss is stalled and they don’t know why.  

By doing a little tracking and getting familiar with how many calories foods have people avoid the “health halo” effect which is when someone believes a food to be healthy and  gives the food a free pass think “but it’s healthy.”

Your body truly does not give a shit if your calories are “healthy calories” if you eat too many of them you will gain body fat, healthy calories or not.  

In the united states there’s a huge case of portion distortion where we’re constantly being served, and eating larger portions of food than needed.

Over time these larger portions become normalized and you assume that’s how much you should be eating.

While tracking calories can be a pain in the ass, your options are to continue to bang your head against the wall and not get results, or take the time and get some objective data from tracking and realize where you’ve been slipping up.

I’ve yet to have a client who tracked their calories and didn’t end up with a lightbulb moment about a few different foods they were eating regularly that were contributing to their stall.

However there are going to be times and periods where you don’t feel like tracking, and that’s completely understandable as I don’t know a single person who tracks all the time.

If you have zero interest in tracking and still want to lose fat these are the top five strategies you can implement to help you achieve a calorie deficit for fat loss.

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1. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be a great way for you to compress the amount of food you eat into a smaller window, and create a calorie deficit without tracking calories.

The caveat to this is to make sure you’re not overeating when you do break the fast, and eat as you normally would.

When you start fasting you will feel some hunger, but the interesting thing is you can retrain your hunger hormone (ghrelin) to spike at different times by changing the pattern of your reating consistently.

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Skip Breakfast

An easy way to warm up to fasting is to simply drink coffee and skip breakfast and make lunch your very first meal of the day and continue eating with your normal eating pattern.

Don’t worry there is absolutely no evidence that breakfast is the most important meal of the day nor will your metabolism slow or will you go into “starve mode”

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Starve mode is not a real thing, if it was no one in third world countries would starve to death.

Most of the people who think they go into “starve mode” unfortunately have to diet on very low calories for a number of reasons.

These people may also have some inconsistencies in their food intake that make a big difference because of how low they need to go with calories to lose fat.

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Skipping breakfast is an easy way to reduce your calorie intake without giving it any active thought.

To help suppress appetite and cravings during your fast have black coffee with a splash of cream or any regular calorie free caffeinated drink.

Two other approaches that I’ve found very useful were 24 hour fasts and the Leangains 16/8 protocol.

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16/8 Leangains

This style of fasting was popularized and brought to the mainstream by Martin Berkhan. It’s one of the most popular, and successful fasting protocols in the health and fitness industry.                 

With Leangains you fast for 16 hours each day, and then consume all your food in an 8 hour window.   

With this style of fasting you would stop eating after dinner around 7-8pm. When you wake up in the following morning, instead of eating breakfast, you would have coffee, tea or water and wait until lunch time at 11am-12pm to have your first meal. You’d then cut off your eating at 7-8pm that night again.

I find the Leangains 16/8 method of fasting has a natural flow to it that’s done easily, and isn’t disruptive to everyday life.  In the past this was the method of fasting that I used most frequently.   

Eat Stop Eat (24 Hour Fast):

This protocol of fasting was popularized by Brad Pilon. His approach is very simple; you do 1-2 , 24 hour fasts per week and eat normally the other five to six days of the week.

You eat normally on non fasting days, and during fasting days you go a full twenty four hours without any calories just drinking water, coffee, tea or any other calorie free beverage.

Usually when I do a 24 hour fast I’ll have a little cream in my coffee, because I’m a rebel like that..

The way that the Eat Stop Eat  fast is structured it still allows you to eat every day, even though you’re fasting for a 24 hour period.

For example if you wanted to fast on Wednesday, you could eat a late lunch/early dinner around 4PM Wednesday, then not eat again until 4PM on Thursday still be eating each day.

While this may sound extreme once you have a few 24 hour fasts under your belt you realize that hunger comes and goes, but it’s not as bad as you make it up to be in your mind.

An interesting by product of doing a 24 hour fast is you realize how much we eat out of habit, and not true physical hunger.

As I write this newsletter I’m actually doing a 24 hour fast. When I’m dieting (which I currently am)  fasting on a Monday starts off the week with a good sized calorie deficit and I can eat more throughout the rest of the week while being in a deficit.

I  wrote a Free Ebook on Fasting For Fat Loss that you can grab HERE.

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2. Eat Less Frequent Meals & Reduce Snacking  

If you control for calories your meal frequency has zero impact on your metabolism or fat loss.

One important thing to keep in mind is that if you graze all day long your chances of overeating greatly increase.

When you graze throughout the day you’ll engage in a lot of mindless eating that will likely be forgotten.

Whereas if you wait until you’re actually physically hungry to sit down and eat a meal you’ll be more present, and aware of hunger signals.

By reducing the number of meals you consume, or dropping the extra snacks you can very easily reduce the amount of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis.

Over time you can ease your way into the first tip and start to incorporate fasting by skipping breakfast, and in turn reducing your meal frequency throughout the day.

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3. Increase Protein & Eat It First At Meals

It’s easy to neglect protein at meals when you’re busy focusing eating tasty carbs and fats.

An easy way to fix this is to fill up your plate with higher protein foods, followed by high fiber vegetables and denser carbs and lastly fats and oils.

By focusing on protein and high fiber veggies at meals you’re going to feel fuller for longer and fat more satiated.

This is because protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients and high fiber vegetables take up more room in your stomach and slow stomach emptying which all works to make you feel much fuller for longer.

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4. Stop Drinking Calories

Things like soda, store bought green smoothies, coffee with a ton of cream and sugar and alcohol are are significant sources of calories that most people gloss over and forget about because they don’t fill you up.

While liquid calories don’t fill you up, they add up...pretty significantly.

When you add up those liquid calories contain you can see that merely reducing these would usually create a large enough calorie deficit for most people to lose body fat.
 

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5. Use Smaller Plates and Bowls

Another important, but highly overlooked area to address when it comes to reducing your calories without counting them is the size of the plates, bowls, glasses and  utensils you use.  

An identical portion of food on a larger or smaller plate is going to look differently to your brain, and the size of that plate influences whether you determine that as an adequate amount of food or not.

You unconsciously examine how much room the food takes up on the plate to gauge the portion size and unfortunately most people eat all of what’s in front of them without stopping so if you serve a larger portion you’ll eat a larger portion.  

When you eat off larger plates and bowls you’ll unconsciously normalize larger portions of food and end up eating more.

For bowls, plates, glasses and utensils think smaller so normal portions appear larger, and make your brain perceive it as an adequate amount of food.

 

The Last Fat Loss Blog You'll Ever Need...

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As a society we have a habit of making things more complicated than they need to be, nutrition for fat loss is no different.

Simplicity is something I discuss on a regular basis with my clients to help them stay on course towards their goals, and avoid all the diet noise and overwhelm.

It’s easy to get caught up in the health and fitness industry’s next big superfood, diet or supplement, but the basics are where you makes 98% of your progress.

People can debate until the cows come home about what macronutrient ratios are best for fat loss or if a specific diet has a metabolic advantage, but at the end of the day none of that matters unless you have the basics down.

Calories, portion sizes and understanding macronutrients are pieces of the puzzle but before we can talk about those we need address things in a top down manner looking at your mindset.

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Your Diet Includes What You Feed Your Mind

The reality at the end of the day is your thoughts control your daily actions, not just with food but also with your exercise, sleep and relationships too.

People want to skip over this fact and try to find the right diet or exercise routine that will get them results, but if your thoughts are corrosive and negative you won’t succeed.

You can turn a self fulfilling prophecy into something real because you’ve found a way to make yourself “right” and feed into the story you tell yourself about who are as a person.

Slowly but surely this way of thinking, and talking to yourself chips away at your belief system and your ability to believe you can achieve your fat loss goal.

Over time your internal wise advocate (the positive voice in your head) grows weaker and tired from the constant negative assault.

A lot of people will say that they “lose control” when they’re around certain foods but that’s a very disempowering way to view your relationship with food, it only hold the power of you that you let it hold.

You are always in control, you don’t ever lose it. You’ve chosen not to eat certain foods a million different times in your life.

Sometimes you choose not to use that self control, but that’s a choice, and it’s on you to take responsibility for those actions.

This sounds a little harsh at first, and you may think I’m a dickhead for saying that but realize I’m trying to cause a shift in the way you think from a disempowered almost victim mindset to one that shows you’re in control and the choices is always yours to make.

If you have a victim’s mindset then the reality is you’ll always believe that things are happening to you as a bystander and you have no control over your daily actions.

If you don’t learn to shift your mindset out of this powerless mode, then you’ll always succumb to temptation and chalk it up to “losing control” rather than saying I made a choice and am always in control to make a different choice.

To help with control and eating healthier without a ton of extra effort a good place to start is to look at your food environment.

The environments (work, home, etc)  you spend the most time in have a large influence on the decisions you make with food, whether you realize it or not.

If you’re struggling with fat loss, and aren’t sure what to do next, let me help you with a FREE 45 minute Nutrition Strategy Session Click HERE to claims yours today!

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Upgrading Your Food Environment:

Whether you like it or not or not, your environment shapes many of the dietary decisions you make on a daily basis.

The reality is you make 200 plus food related decisions every day, and I’d like to ask how many of them you remember making ?

If you answered “not many or none” you’re in the majority.

Your environments shapes your unconscious habits and behaviors to the point that they go on autopilot a lot of the time.  

People get so focused on controlling food, and the diets that they neglect the surrounding environments which play an arguably bigger role in fat loss efforts.

Your food environment can help you to get leaner and healthier, or it can chip away at your fat loss goals and leave you without results, or even worse gaining weight year after year.

In this section of the blog we’re going to be looking at the food environments you spend the most time in and talk about how make them more conducive to your fat loss goals.

Credit where credit is due: This entire section on changing the food environment is HEAVILY influenced by the work of Brian Wansink and his books “Mindless Eating” and “Slim By Design”

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1.) Your Home

Aside from the eight hours you spend at a job, the majority of you spend a lot more time at home, and depending on your food environment is set up at home this can be a good or bad thing.

Let’s say you come home after an especially long stressful day at work.

You’re hungry, tired, stressed and don’t want to make any more decisions, especially about what to eat.  

When you get home, and walk into the kitchen there’s a basket on the countertop with cookies, crackers and chips in it.  

At this point it’s almost certain you’re going to eat those cookies, chips and crackers. It’s right in front of you, it’s tasty food and you have easy access to it.  

But  what if you came home and instead there was a bowl of fruit with apples, bananas and pears on the countertop.

By replacing the calorie dense snack foods with a bowl of fruit your default choice would be to have fruit and in turn make a healthier decision.

This is a perfect example of how your food environment can shape your choices without any conscious thought.

It’s easy to see how access to foods, and  where you place them in your home can impact your consumption of them without thinking twice about it.

There’s three areas that are pivotal to assess when it comes improving your food environment at home: The kitchen, your dining table and general snack proofing.

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The Kitchen

Without even realizing it many people make their kitchen countertops a booby trap for snack foods that are calorie dense easy to mindlessly overeat.

What you keep on your countertop in the kitchen will get eaten with a high frequency because going to be one of the first things you see, and it’s easily accessible.  

A great first step is to simply replace calorie dense, hyper palatable snacks foods on the countertop with a fruit bowl like in the example above.

While a kitchen filled with junk food creates booby traps for your fat loss success, having an empty kitchen can also lead to poor choices as well.

The easy solution is to keep cut up fruit and vegetables in the fridge along with high protein foods you can grab for a snack like cottage cheese, greek yogurt, string cheese, high quality deli meats or hard boiled eggs.

The fruit and vegetables with higher protein foods is a great for squelching hunger and staying fuller with more nutritious choices.  

Make sure the foods you want to eat more of are front and center in the fridge, and in clear containers. This way they’re the first thing you see, and the easiest to grab.

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Plates, Bowls, Utensil and glasses

Another important, but highly overlooked area to address is the size of the plates, bowls, glasses and  utensils you use when eating and drinking.  

An identical portion of food on a larger or smaller plate is going to look differently to our brains.

We unconsciously examine how much room the food takes up on the plate to gauge the portion size and whether it’s going to be adequate.

When you eat off larger plates and bowls you’ll unconsciously normalize larger portions of food and end up eating more.

For bowls, plates, glasses and utensils think smaller so normal portions appear larger, and make your brain perceive it as an adequate amount of food.

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2.The Sneaky Snacks

Habits in-between meals are likely sabotaging some of your fat loss goals, because those snacks don’t actually fill you up but encourage more grazing behavior.

There’s nothing wrong with eating smaller more frequent meals but when you’re snacking all the times those nibbles, bites and smaller snacks are easily forgotten.

Studies have shown that people unintentionally under report their food intake by upwards of 40%.

Food under reporting isn’t because you’re trying to be deceitful, but it’s commonly due to a lack portion and calorie awareness.

Over time all those granola bars, mixed nuts, and samples at the grocery store that go unaccounted for add up.

These “missing snacks” can cause stalls in your fat loss progress without you even realizing it and cause frustration.

You can discover these sneaky snack habits by recording every single bite of food or liquid you drink for a week in a food journal or my fitness pal.

This way you can objectively identify everything you ate or drank during that week consistently, and recognize what might be holding you back that you didn’t account for previously.

Another strategy that can be helpful is to remove trigger foods from your home and other environments when you recognize them as a barrier to your success.

If you can control and remove the temptation to want to overeat specific foods then that’s going to be a better approach than trying to rely on willpower all the time.

If there’s a food you have a hard time controlling your intake of in the house, get rid of it and don’t bring it back in the house which creates a barrier to you overeating that food.

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3.Restaurants

Going out to eat frequently is a common reason for deviating from a nutrition plan, but there’s options at every place you eat out at and can tweak to make fit your goal.

The key is that you have to know what to look for that will fit your goals, and to advocate for yourself, and ask for what you need from restaurant.

If you’re going to make a special request out at a restaurant a great way to ensure it goes smoothly is to let the waiter know you’re more than happy to pay the extra costs and appreciate them helping you out.

This way the waiter knows you’re going to be take of them care of them for going out of their way to help you out, and will make the whole transaction at the restaurant go smoother.

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The Rule of 2

No one wants to go out to restaurants and only eat salads, and I completely understand, but this isn’t a justification to go off the deep end either.

There’s a nice middle ground you should aim to hit.  

So how can you go out and enjoy yourself without entirely blowing your nutrition plan for the day ? Enter the rule of 2.

This is another principle that I learned from Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating, and have found to be very useful with my clients.

When using the rule of 2 you order a reasonable/smaller entree and pick two additional items like a side salad and glass of wine or a piece of bread and dessert.

Another great add on to this rule is to divide the entree in half since portions are normally pretty large, and either split the entree with someone else or bring the other half home with you.

For those who track calories and macros you can look at menus ahead of time and find what fits your plan or use a generic version to ball park on myfitnesspal.

Using this rule of two you don’t feel deprived when you go out to eat, but it does make you more selective about your choices and portions.

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Menu Terminology  

When it comes to a well designed menu what most people fail to recognize is that it’s more than just words on paper, there’s an actual art and science to menus are worded.

Anything that sticks out and draws your attention to it on a menu can influence what you order.

Things such as using a unique text or wrapping the text in a unique pattern or box on a menu is way to drive attention to those items.

A great menu also uses descriptive language that makes you to taste the food in your brain as you’re reading it. An example of this  would be a “freshly baked double dutch chocolate brownie.”

Geographic names are also very popular on menus because people assume a food that comes from a specific region is going to taste a certain way or be better quality.

This is why menu items that  are attached to geographic names tend to do well like “Fresh Oregon Coast Crab”  or “Alaskan King Salmon”

High Calorie Versus Low Calorie words On A Menu

This might be the most valuable thing you take away from this whole restaurant section on changing your food environment, and in turn your choices.

Knowing higher calorie and lower calorie options on a menu by better understanding the terminology is a great way to set yourself up for success at restaurants.

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 4.Grocery Shopping

“Your best and worst dietary habits at home actually begin with the choices you make in the grocery store.” - Brian Wansink  

If you don’t bring junk foods in the house to begin with it’s not there to eat when you’re tempted. The same principle applies if you don’t have high quality nutritious foods in the house as well.

Having a plan for how you’re going to grocery shop can sometimes be just as important as the shopping itself because it sets you up to make better choices.

Here are my suggestions for ensuring a successful trip to the grocery store and stocking the house with foods that work with your goals, not against them.

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Don’t Go Shopping Hungry

When you go grocery shopping hungry you’re in the mindset of quickly fixing your own hunger, and will have a preference for higher calorie convenience foods.

Food cravings and hunger will make you imagine how tasty a food might be that’s right in front of you, and next thing you know a few sleeves of cookies jumped off the shelf into your basket.

If you’re hungry have a protein rich snack, and add in some fruit if you’d like before grocery shopping, that way you’re far less food focused.

Another easy solution is to chew gum while you’re at the store. It’s more difficult to imagine how a foods tastes when you’re already chewing gum and have a specific texture and flavor.

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Make A List

 

This is self explanatory but bears saying because people who don’t do this end up bewildered staring at the ice cream freezer.

Take 5-10 minutes every week and write down what you need from the store, and stick to the list.

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Half Shopping Cart Rule

Yet again another brilliant idea from Brian Wansink is to physically divide your cart in half by putting something across the middle like a scarf, coat or whatever you can use as a physical barrier.  

Claim the front of your cart as the area you’re going to fill up with the more nutritious foods you want to buy more of like fruits and vegetables and lean protein.

Another idea is to be more selective with aisles you go down and spend more time in, as it can influence your food choices.

Alright now that we’ve discussed the mindset and environment aspect of your fat loss plan let’s get into the actual nutrition strategies you can use to successfully lose and maintain losing body fat.

If you’re struggling with fat loss, and aren’t sure what to do next, let me help you with a FREE 45 minute Nutrition Strategy Session Click HERE to claims yours today!

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Where To Start

This is where blog becomes more of a choose your own adventure approach. My goal is in this section is to outline three different highly effective nutrition approaches, and give you the reigns to choose what suits you and your lifestyle best.

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Route #1: Simple Meal Template

This is the exact template I use with my clients on a daily basis to help them eat enough protein and vegetables while adjust their carbs as needed while keeping things very very simple.

The best part about this template aside from the simplicity is you can use it at social events or while dining out. Both of  which are difficult for people to navigate when it comes to sticking to their nutrition plan.

This template is also an easy way to control portions and calories without having to count or over think either one of them.

Simple Meal Template:

½ Plate fibrous vegetables: leafy greens,  brussel sprouts, zucchini, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, snap peas, asparagus, green beans, salad mixes. Really any non starchy vegetable you like is good to go for the vegetable department.

¼- ⅓  Plate Protein: Chicken, fish, eggs,  ground beef (fat & protein), turkey, shrimp, tuna, salmon, halibut, egg whites, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, steak (fat & protein), ground turkey, pork chops.

¼ Plate Dense Carbs/Starches: Potatoes, rice, oatmeal, quinoa, squash, taro root, plantains, yams, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, corn, millet, hot rice cereal, legumes, amaranth, carb dense fruit.

Again these are not set in stone proportions, but what I like to see is a plate thats mostly filled with plants, a good size serving of a dense protein source and a carbohydrates serving to round out the meal.

Simple Meal Template Considerations:

Hard Charging Athlete: If you’re a hard changing athlete and doing a lot of highly intense work like crossfit or competitive martial arts, or any kind of intense two a day sessions then I would increase your denser carbohydrate intake. Keep protein the same, or increase a little as you’ll need it for recovery and satiety.

Less Active/Very Overweight: I would reduce the denser carbohydrates, and increase your intake of protein and fats at meals. The main focus should be on your protein intake and getting lots of non starchy vegetables. Pre and post workout is where you want to  place the majority of your denser carbs in this situation.  

More Active/Leaner: Those who are leaner, or have a highly active job or lifestyle will  be able to better utilize carbohydrates so there is more flexibility there to increase carbs when needed to fuel day to day activity and gym sessions.

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Route #2: Calories & Macros

With this route you’ll have a target number of calories to eat per day and will be be tracking your calories to make sure you’re consistently burning more calories than you’re eating to lose body fat.

Along with calories, you also have a target amount of protein, fats and carbs to eat each day to help make sure you’re staying full, eating in a well balanced fashion and fueling for your activity level.

You’ll want to use an app like myfitnesspal to track your and calories macros to inform your decisions about food choices and meals.

I think tracking can be a great awareness tool to get objective information on how much you’re eating, and learn about some foods that may contain more calories than you thought and we slowing down progress.

Tracking is not going to be for every person though, and that’s totally fine. You need to choose the best approach for you as an individual and you can get a lot mileage out of using the simple meal template and the hand based portion approach we discuss next!

We’ll cover exactly how to set up your calories and macros a little later in the blog so you can learn how to set calories and macros and learn when to make an adjustment.

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Route #3: Hand Based Portions

This is another method for controlling calories and portions without counting calories or macros and making sure you can organize a nutrition plan that suits your lifestyle and need while helping you to create a calorie deficit for fat loss.

  • Base each meal around 1-2 palm sized portions of protein:

Men aim for 2 palm sized portions of protein per meal

Women should aim for 1 palm sized portion per meal  

Protein Sources: leaner beef, salmon, 2-3 eggs, chicken , lamb/bison, steak, turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese

  • 2 closed fist portions of non starchy vegetables:

Men and women should both aim for 2 closed fist portions of  non starchy vegetables per meal.

Vegetables: kale, spinach, collards, onions, mushrooms, garlic, brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, purple cabbage. Pick whichever ones you like, this is just an example!

  • Add 1-2 thumb sized portions of fat for cooking and flavor:

Men should include 2  thumb sized portions of oils or fat to each meal

Women should include 1 thumb sized portion of fats or oils to meals

Cooking oils and fats: olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil, red palm oil, tallow or lard.

Cold use oils: macadamia oil, avocado oil or olive oil.

  • Nuts and seeds should be eaten like a condiment, small portions when you decide to have them; ½ open cupped hand:

I wouldn’t go beyond one serving of nuts or seeds per meal. There are much more nutrient dense foods that should be the focus of a meal.     

Nuts: walnuts, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, cashews.

  • If fruit is part of your meal use 1 closed fist sized portion equivalent to a medium apple:

Fruits will vary depending on your region but some choices are: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, boysenberries, melon, apples.

  • When adding starches to your plate (depending on the amount of carbs you’re eating) add 1-2 closed fist portion to your plate:

Natural sources of starch: sweet potatoes, yams, taro root, winter squash, acorn squash, white potatoes, plantains, white rice, amaranth, buckwheat

Do yourself a favor and find Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, they’re typically found at most asian food stores. They are white/grey on the outside and purple on the inside, and taste like birthday cake.

Low Carbs With Carbs Pre & Post Workout :

If you’re following a lower carb diet, but notice your gym performance and recovery are suffering then putting some denser carbs for pre and post workout is a helpful strategy to fuel performance in the gym and recovery.

Want to download this blog as a PDF ? Click HERE to grab your copy!

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Every Diet Works, Pick What Works For You

The fact that every diet works is barely discussed in the health and nutrition realm because people get so tribal and dogmatic about their diet.

When someone chooses a way of eating that’s appropriate for them and allows them to adhere to a calorie deficit they will lose body fat, no matter the dietary approach they take.  

Different diets cause a calorie deficit in different ways, but at the end of the day if you’re losing fat on a diet it’s because you’re burning more calories than you’re eating, not the diet itself.

Let’s take a quick look at how some of the common diets help people to achieve a calorie deficit.

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Vegan diet: Removes animal products - Eating Fewer Calories

Paleo diet: Removes processed foods - Eating Fewer Calories

Ketogenic diet: Removes carbohydrates - Eating Fewer Calories

Flexible Dieting: Counting calories & macros - Eating Fewer Calories

A certain diet may suit you better, and make it easier for you to stay consistent and feel less deprived, but that same diet may not hold the same effect for another individual.

This means two people who have the same goal can eat two completely different diets, and achieve very similar results because they adhered to the same principle of being in a calorie deficit.

It’s like you and a friend driving to the same destination in separate cars, but you each take a different routes that takes the same amount of time.

You both get there at the same time you just got there a different way. Diets are the route you take and the destination is your fat loss goal.

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Factors To Consider When Picking A Diet:

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Activity level & what kind of activity are you doing ?

Your overall fat loss will be controlled by your calorie intake, however if you’re able to better fuel your activity in the gym and throughout the day you’ll recover better and allow for more high quality work in the gym.

Being decreasing soreness and recovering better you’ll be more motivated to move more throughout the day, have more trips to the gym and an overall greater calorie burn. While the calories expended may be small due to this specific factor every advantage in fat loss should be used.

More intense and longer forms of exercise like crossfit or mixed martial arts are going to be better fueled with a higher carbohydrate intake which can will also help with recovery.

Those with a more active lifestyle or job like someone who works in manual labor or as a waiter will also be able to to better tolerate carbs due to their overall activity, and calorie burn throughout the day.

If you’re more sedentary, and hit the gym for an hour a few times per week you’ll do fine with a more even split of carbohydrates and fats, but likely won’t need a higher end intake of carbohydrates.

Those who are very overweight and live a more sedentary life may benefit from keeping carbohydrates lower and increasing fats to help with some initial weight loss and help to remove some of the easier to overeat calorie dense foods.

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What foods do you enjoy eating ?

Your dietary preference, and the foods you enjoy eating is something that needs to be considered when it comes to choosing your diet.

Adherence and consistency are the two largest factors when it comes to seeing fat loss results, because you’re motivated to stick to your nutrition plan when you actually enjoy it. Shocker I know!

If you feel poorly and don’t like the foods you’re eating on a specific diet than your chances of sticking with it are going to be very low.

However if you eat in way that you enjoy, and feel less deprived then it’s much easier to stay consistent, even when dieting kinda sucks which at some point it will you’ll have a more to look forward to.

Trying to fit a round peg in a square hole is never going to be a good fit, and there’s a multitude of dietary approaches to choose from.

Choose the approach you can see yourself sticking to for a longer period of time.  

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Are there foods you have strong aversions to ?

This could also be categorized in the foods you enjoy section but this on the opposite end of that spectrum with foods that you don’t do well with.

Maybe they upset your digestion, make you feel bloated or you have an intolerance or  full blown food allergy.

Your dietary approach should reflect these needs, and your diet shouldn’t make you feel horrendous.

If you’re someone who doesn’t tolerate gluten or grains very well or have a specific autoimmune condition giving the paleo diet a try or even the autoimmune paleo protocol could be helpful.

If you have lots of digestive issues you may need to use an approach such excludes certain types of carbohydrates and nightshades like on the FODMAPS diet.

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Do you like more carbs or fats more ?

Generally people like foods that are going to be denser in carbohydrates or more fatty, maybe an even split of the two.

If you really enjoy fattier foods then going ketogenic may be a good approach for you to follow, but if you prefer more carbs then this wouldn’t be the right fit for you.

When it comes to carbs and fats I view them as a teeter totter meaning if one goes up, then the other has to come down to make room in the total calories for fat loss to happen.

As an example if you increase carbs that means fats need to be reduced,  in the same way that if fats are increased carbs need to be decreased to make sure you’re achieving a calorie deficit.

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Trigger foods ?

If there are certain foods that are very easy for you to overeat, or you choose not to use control when you start eating them it might be better to choose a dietary approach that excludes these foods for you, and give clear guidelines to not consume them.

You might need to draw a line in the sand and keep these foods out of the house for a period of time to allow yourself to build some uninterrupted momentum towards your goal.

Another approach is to use a lower calorie version of the food and set pre-determined limits until you get better control over the food.

An example would using powdered peanut butter in place of regular peanut butter or a 100 calorie bag of popcorn in place of a regular bag of popcorn.

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Are you heavier or leaner ?

Overall calorie intake will be the main driver of your ability to lose fat at the end of the day, so this isn’t a requirement but it mostly based on my experience with clients.

If you have a significant amount of fat to lose, and are very overweight or obese using a lower carb approach in the beginning can be better as your ability to use carbs efficiently is reduced.

Some people find a lower carb approach to be more satiating, help with hunger levels, balance out energy and curb cravings which are all big wins on a fat loss plan.

The initial water reduction from lowering carbs can be highly motivating when you have a lot of weight to lose, and know it’ll take some time to accomplish.

Seeing the number on the scale drop quickly helps you to feel encouraged about the process ahead, and seeing progress like that can help with adherence.

If you are leaner, and have a higher level of activity you’re likely to do better with more carbs prioritized in their diet, but at the end of the day whether you’re leaner or heavier it’s a matter of choice.

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Have you had success in the past, and what approach did you use ?

When you look back through your past with changing your nutrition habits or dieting it’s important to think about what aspects of past diets worked well, and what didn’t work well.

From there the goal is to replicate what worked well for you, while avoiding the things that didn’t meet your needs or suit you.

I do this with my clients by writing down the different qualities of each approach they’ve used so we can use these points in developing their nutrition plan.

Questions to consider:

  • What  diets have you tried in the past ?

  • What worked ?

  • What didn’t work ?

  • What did you like about that approach ?

  • What didn’t you like about that approach ?

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Rigid or Flexible Strategy ?

This is a personality trait that’s helpful to understand about yourself when it comes to developing a nutrition strategy that fits you as an individual and can contribute to your success.  

Rigid: If you’re more rigid then the chances are good you’ll do much better with built in rules like eating certain foods, and avoiding others entirely. This is where following a specific diet can help with diet adherence.

The structure of a more rigid approach allows you to be more successful because it serves your black and white mentality with foods.

There are foods you eat, and other you avoid which makes it simple, cut and dry.  

As an example if you use a rigid approach you might avoid eating cookies entirely, because you know it’s easier for you to avoid cookies altogether than to try to moderate them.

Flexible: If you’re more of a flexible you can moderate your intake of foods consistently, and you’re able to enjoy a wide range of foods without feeling the temptation to overeat on certain foods.

If you use a  more flexible approach you’re able to have a cookie or two because it fits your plan, and then put the package back in cupboard.

This is strictly anecdotal #notevidencebased , but in my experience I’ve found that people who do well  on a  flexible approach have a  more analytical type A personality type, and enjoy the numbers game of calories and macros.

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Metabolic Health ?

Metabolic health refers to someone who has a past history of extreme and or crash dieting and has tried every diet under the sun in the pursuit of fat loss.

For those of you who have crash dieted for years, and lived in the diet and binge cycle without any time spent just trying to maintain body weight levels you may not be in a metabolically or psychologically healthy state to go on another diet.

This is the last thing you want to hear if you have a fat loss goal, but if you’ve put your body through the ringer with diet after diet and losing and gaining weight year after year something isn’t working and a new approach is needed.

The ability to maintain your weight is just as important, if not more so than you ability to lose weight. Everyone has lost weight before, however very few people have learned how to maintain their new weight and tend to gain it right back.

You may need to give the body some time to be at a stable body weight, and repair your relationship with food before you consider going on another diet.

Because I don’t know you dieting history it’s tough to say how long you should aim to maintain for but a period of 6 months seems reasonable.

I know this is not what you wanted to read in a blog on fat loss, but if this section has resonated with you, and you’re done banging your head against the wall then it may be time to learn how to maintain before you consider trying to lose fat again.

Want to download this blog as a PDF ? Click HERE to grab your copy!

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Whole and Nutritious Foods

While yes calories are going to be the main determining factor of your fat loss, keep in mind that the quality of foods you consume is going to have a huge impact on your hunger levels and overall health/longevity.

Even when people follow the 80/20 principle of flexibility, keep in mind that 80% of someone’s diet is still coming from nutrient dense whole foods like leaner protein, lots of vegetables and fruits, starches and healthy fat sources.

Enjoying indulgences from time to time is nice, but when it comes to managing your hunger and staying fuller for longer while keeping calories in check whole foods wins that race.

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Setting Up your Calories & Macros For Fat Loss

 

Setting Calories:

Calories will be the main driver for your fat loss, and to lose fat you’ll need to be expending more calories than you’re consuming on a consistent basis.

While calories drive fat loss, food quality and eating mostly whole foods is a huge part of the puzzle from a health and well being perspective which you should always consider.

Not to mention when the majority of your food comes from quality protein, vegetables, fruit, fats and starches you’ll be able to eat more food from an overall volume perspective and stay fuller for longer.

Managing hunger is a large consideration when it comes dieting, however when you get deep into a diet there will be some unavoidable hunger that happens, and that is ok!

There are a ton of different formulas and ways to find what your calorie intake should be, but for simplicity sake we’re going to consider your overall activity level and body weight to determine your caloric intake.

Your Bodyweight (lbs) X 9-14

The large variance here between 9-14 is to account for your overall activity level throughout the week and frequency of going to the gym.

Keep in mind this isn’t just how frequently you workout though, but also the kind of job that you work, and the activities you do outside of work like rec league basketball and hiking compared to happy hour and video games.

  • If you’re a less active woman who works at a sedentary desk job and trains at the gym 2-4 times per week go with the lower end 9-10.
     

  • If you’re a more active woman that works at a job like a waitress where you’re on your feet and moving and train at the gym 3-5 times per week use the higher end 10-12.
     

  • Sedentary men who work at  a desk job and go to the gym 3-5 times a week choose 10-12
     

  • Men who work more active job such as manual labor and train 3-5 times per week choose the top end 12-14.

Female Example:

A 145 lb  woman with sedentary job who goes to the gym 3 times per week would set her calorie intake:

  • 145 lbs x 10 = 1,450 calories per day

Another woman who also weighs 145 lbs, but works as a waitress and goes to the gym 3 times per week would set her calorie intake:

  • 145 lbs x 12 = 1,740 calories per day

Male Example:

A 175 lb  man with sedentary job who goes to the gym 3 times per week would set his calorie intake:

  • 175 lbs x 11 = 1,925 calories per day

Another man who also weighs 175 lbs, but works a more active job and goes to the gym 3 times per week would set his calorie intake:

  • 175 lbs x 13 = 2,275 calories per day

Keep in mind that these initial calories are a guess, and you’ll need to track progress and see how you look, feel and perform while eating this amount. This isn’t set in stone but give it an honest 2-4 weeks to work before you make a huge adjustment.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you first start dieting and eating fewer calories there’s going to be some initial hunger and this is a normal part of the process as your body adapts to fewer calories.

This low level hunger from time to time is expected, however if you’re voraciously hungry all the time and never feel full it’s time to add more food back in.

Now that we have the amount of calories you’re going to be consuming on a daily basis we’ll look at where those calories are going to come from in terms of macronutrients: protein, fats and carbs.

Macronutrients:

Macronutrients refers to protein, fats and carbs that make up the foods you eat. You require protein, fats and carbohydrates in larger amounts which is why they’re named macronutrients, many of them will also contain other micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Each of the different macronutrients contains a certain amount of calories per gram that you eat, and contributes to the total amount of calories you eat daily.

  • Protein: 4 calories per gram

  • Fats: 9 calories per gram

  • Carbs: 4 calories per gram

 

  • 50 grams of protein has  200 calories (50x4=200 calories)

  • 50 grams of fat has 450 calories (50x9=450 calories)

  • 50 grams of carbs has 200 calories  (50x4=200 calories)

If you’re interested in organizing a nutrition plan that works with your lifestyle and preferences  hop on a  complimentary Nutrition Strategy Session with me! Click HERE to sign up!

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The Golden Fat Loss Macro: Protein

When it comes to fat loss one of the most important macronutrients to ensure you retain as much hard earned muscle mass as possible is going to be protein.

It also happens to be one of the highest satiety macronutrients that keeps you fuller for longer and helps to curb cravings.

When you combine proper strength training with adequate protein it will help you to retain and even in some cases build muscle.

Yes I’m going against what you’ve likely heard by saying you can gain muscle in a calorie deficit while losing fat, but this is far more likely to happen in people who are brand new to strength training.

My general recommendation is to get 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight so using our examples from above:

  • The 145 lb woman would consume 145 grams of protein per day

  • The 175 lb man would consume 175 grams of protein per day

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Fats & Carbs: Act Like A Teeter Totter

Now that we have calories and your protein worked out the last two things to address are going to be your carbohydrates and fats.

This is where your preference for specific foods can help you to organize a nutrition strategy you enjoy and can stick to.

If you really enjoy more fatty foods then using a higher fat diet would be the way to go, and if you enjoy denser carbs then eat a higher carb diet.

If you like both and are willing to eat a little less of each so you have a more balanced approach that can work too!

What I mean when I say that fats and carbs act like a teeter totter is that when you eat large amounts of one of them, you’ll need to eat less of the other to make room in your calories to lose body fat.

As an example if you’re going to a high fat diet, you’ll need eat fewer carbs so you can stay in a calorie deficit and lose body fat.

The same goes for if you’re going to eat a higher carb diet, as a result of eating far more carbs you’ll need to eat less fat to make room in your calories for fat loss.

For someone who’s eating an even split of fats and carbs you’ll have a more balanced approach, but won’t get a ton of either carbs or fats which is fine too, you don’t have to be extreme.

More than trying to find any kind of magic macro breakdown or special diet this is about finding a specific way of eating that you enjoy and can stick with for long enough to make progress towards your fat loss goals.

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Putting The Pieces Together:

You may be saying to yourself, that’s good and all Alex but what the fuck should I do with all that talk of calories and macros ?

I thought you’d never ask!

we’re going to take our male and female examples from the calories section above and  calculate their macros and see what it would look like.

Your Macro Breakdown

For the sake of making things simple let’s use some easy ranges:

  • Protein: 1 gram per pound of bodyweight

  • Fats: 25%

  • Carbs: Remainder of calories

If you need to adjust the macros for your own taste/preference or needs  just follow the steps below and make changes where it applies.

You’re getting the step by step process on how I’m doing it all below so you can make the changes based on your needs.

An important thing to keep in mind is the different caloric content of the macros, which comes into play below:

  • 1 gram carbohydrates = 4 calories

  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories

  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

We’ll need to go through and do some math to figure all this out, and if you’re not any good at math don’t freak out, I’ve struggled with math my entire life.

There’s a reason I was a preschool teacher for five years before getting into nutrition… of course I did it for the kids, but also it didn’t require any real math classes…. I’m not remotely joking either.

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Female Example:

A 145 lb  woman with sedentary job who goes to the gym 3 times per week would set her calorie intake:

  • 145 lbs x 10 = 1,450 calories per day

1. ) Configuring Protein

  • 145 lbs = 145 G

  • 145 G x 4 ( 4 calories per gram of protein) =  580 calories

  • Grams of Protein: 145 G

2.) Configuring Fats:

Fat loss calories: 1,450 x 0.25 (25% fats) = 362.5 calories from fat

Now to see how many grams of fat that translates into we need to divide those calories by 9 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of fat.

  • 362.5 (calories from fat) / 9 ( 9 calories per gram of fat) = 40.27 ( 40 G )

  • Grams of Fat: 40 G

3.) Configuring carbs:

Add protein and fat calories together and subtract from total fat loss calories to find calories from carbs.

  • 580 calories (protein cals) + 362.5 calories  (fat  cals) = 942.5

  • 1,450 (fat loss calories)  - 942.5 calories =  507.5 calories from carbs

To see how many grams of carbs that translates into we need to divide those calories by 4 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of carbs.

  • 507.5 (calories from carbs) / 4 (4 calories per gram of carb) = 126.875 (127 G )  

  • Grams of Carbs: 127 G

Our example 145 lb female’s calories and macros for fat loss would be:

  • Calorie Intake: 1,450 calories per day

  • Protein: 145 G

  • Carbs: 127 G

  • Fat: 40 G

Female Higher Fat Example:

Now if this same 145 lb  woman was very sedentary or had a strong preference  for a higher fat diet this is how we’d change things to make that work for her

Protein would stay the exact same at 145 grams per day so we don’t need to touch that.

I would increase her fat intake to 40% of her total calories, usually I’d go with 35-40% if someone prefers a higher fat diet so if 40% seems to high drop it down to 35% for yourself.

1,450 X 0.4 ( 40% fats) = 580

580 / 9 (calories per gram of fat) = 64.4 (Round 64 grams)

Fats: 64 G

Add protein and fat calories together and subtract from total fat loss calories to find calories from carbs.

  • 580 (protein cals) + 580 calories  (fat  cals) = 1,160

  • 1,450 (fat loss calories)  - 1,160  calories = 290 calories from carbs

To see how many grams of carbs that translates into we need to divide those calories by 4 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of carbs.

  • 290 (calories from carbs) / 4 (4 calories per gram of carb) = 72.5 (73 )  

  • Grams of Carbs: 73 G

Her new macro breakdown would look like this:

  • Calorie Intake: 1,450 calories per day

  • Protein: 145 grams per day

  • Carbs: 73 grams per day

  • Fat: 64 grams per day

Want to download this blog as a PDF ? Click HERE to grab your copy!

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Male Example:

A 175 lb  man with sedentary job who goes to the gym 3 times per week would set his calorie intake:

  • 175 lbs x 11 = 1,925 calories per day

1. ) Configuring Protein:

  • 175 lbs = 175 G

  • 175 G x 4 ( 4 calories per gram of protein) = 700 calories

  • Grams of Protein: 175 G

2.) Configuring Fats:

Fat loss calories: 1,925 x 0.25 (25% fats) = 481.25  calories from fat

Now to see how many grams of fat that translates into we need to divide those calories by 9 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of fat.

  • 481.25 (calories from fat) / 9 ( 9 calories per gram of fat) = 53.47.16 ( 53 G )

  • Grams of Fat: 53 G

3.) Configuring carbs:

Add protein and fat calories together and subtract from total fat loss calories to find calories from carbs.

  • 700 calories (protein cals) + 481.25 calories  (fat  cals) = 1,181.25

  • 1,925 (fat loss calories)  - 1,181.25 calories = 743.75 calories from carbs

To see how many grams of carbs that translates into we need to divide those calories by 4 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of carbs.

  • 743.75 (calories from carbs) / 4 (4 calories per gram of carb) = 185.93 (186 G )  

  • Grams of Carbs: 186 G

Our example 175 lb male’s calories and macros for fat loss would be:

  • Calorie Intake: 1,925 calories per day

  • Protein: 175 G

  • Carbs: 186 G

  • Fat: 53  G

Male Higher Fat  Example:

Now if this same 175 lb  man was very sedentary and preferred a higher fat diet this is how we’d change things to make that work for him.

Protein would stay the exact same at 175 grams per day so we don’t need to touch that.

1,925 X 0.4 ( 40% fats) = 770

770 / 9 (calories per gram of fat) = 85.5 (Round 85 grams)

Fats: 85 G

Add protein and fat calories together and subtract from total fat loss calories to find calories from carbs.

  • 700 calories (protein cals) + 770 calories  (fat  cals) = 1,470

  • 1,925 (fat loss calories)  - 1,470  calories = 455 calories from carbs

To see how many grams of carbs that translates into we need to divide those calories by 4 because that’s how many calories are in each gram of carbs.

  • 455(calories from carbs) / 4 (4 calories per gram of carb) = 113.75 (114 G )  

  • Grams of Carbs: 114 G

So our new macro breakdown would look like this:

  • Calorie Intake: 1,925 calories per day

  • Protein: 175 G

  • Carbs: 114 G

  • Fat: 85 G

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Food Choices

By this point you’ve decided on what approach you’re going to take to lose body fat, and you might be using the simple meal template or counting calories and macros however you also might be thinking what are the best foods to eat in this situation.

 

No worries I have you covered and personally I like to use the 80/20 principle in these kinds of situations where 80-90% of your foods are nutrient dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins and minimally processed starches.

 

Eat More These Foods:
 

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 Protein Sources: 

  • Lean ground  beef

  • Eggs

  • Lean ground turkey

  • Cottage cheese

  • Chicken breast

  • Greek Yogurt

  • Turkey breast

  • Tuna

  • Salmon

  • Tofu

  • Whey Protein

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Carbohydrates Sources

  • Potato

  • Hot rice cereal

  • Fruit

  • Corn

  • Rice

  • Butternut squash

  • Quinoa

  • Taro root

  • Oats

  • Beans

  • Buckwheat

  • Lentils

  • Sweet potato

  • Cassava

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Fat Sources

  • Olive oil

  • Nuts

  • Butter

  • Avocado oil

  • Coconut oil

  • Peanut or almond butter

  • Full fat cheddar cheese

  • Fatty Fish like salmon

  • Greek style full fat yogurt

  • Avocado

  • Heavy whipping cream

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Vegetable Sources

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards etc)

  • Garlic

  • Cabbage

  • Asparagus

  • Mushrooms

  • Radishes

  • Bell peppers

  • Parsnips

  • Carrots

  • Bok Choy

  • Broccoli

  • Artichokes

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Peas

  • Onions

  • Whatever vegetables you like is good to go!

Once you have the majority of your diet coming from the foods like those listed above you do have more wiggle room to enjoy more fun and indulgent foods.

In my opinion it’s a good idea to have a minimum of 80% of your foods coming from nutritious whole foods like the ones above before you consider the more fun foods to make sure all your bases are covered.

 

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How Do I know If I’m Losing Fat or Not ?

Track your progress every 2 weeks. Take progress pictures, scale weight and measurements at the same time, on the same day of the week and at the same time phase of your cycle for women so you know hormonal profiles are as close as you can get them.

For some of you it may be better to track everything weekly or for some people who have lots of scale fluctuations it may be better to daily weigh ins to help you understand that weight fluctuations are normal and look at the average.

Methods:

  • Take a picture: Get into a bathing suit or your underwear, and use your cell phone to take a picture. If you have someone who can help you take pictures even better, if not the mirror picture will work.

Take a picture facing forwards towards the mirror, then turn sideways and take another side profile picture. If you have someone who can help take a picture of your back profile as well.

You may not like what you see, and you may not want to see that picture again, that’s  fine. Put those pictures in a special folder on your computer and add to the folder every two weeks.

We have a hard time noticing any changes on a day to day basis, but if you have a few months worth of pictures to look at you can see your body composition changing and make any necessary changes.

  • Measurements: Go to a store and look in their craft section for a soft measuring tape. Make sure to measure yourself in the morning and don’t do it right after a workout.

Measure the exact same point every two weeks for accuracy. Pick a  landmark on your body like  a scar or a freckle to make sure you are at the same spot as the previous measurement.

Take circumference measurement at each these points every two week and write the numbers down. You may need some help with a few of these, others can be done on your own.

Take these measurements in centimeters, not inches.

  • Shoulders: Put both your arms down at your side. Measure at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder.

  • Chest: Put both your arms up in the air and wrap the tape measure around the chest. Just a little bit above the nipple, then put your arms down and take the measurement.

  • Waist:  

  1. Right at the belly button

  2. 2 inches above the belly button

  3. 2 inches below the belly button.

  • Hips: Measure the widest part of your hips, going all the way around.
     

  • Thighs: Measure around the widest part of both your left and right thighs, but use the same body landmark to keep measurements accurate each week.
     

  • Scale weight: Take your scale weight at the same time of the morning on the same day of the week after normal eating. Lots of things can impact your scale weight so don’t worry if it goes up a little we are far more concerned with your overall trends on a weekly and monthly basis.
     

  • Biofeedback Questions: These are questions and ratings that help you keep in check in with the signals your body is sending as a result of your dieting efforts.

Think in terms of the past two weeks, not just today when you rate each one of these.

  • Hunger issues ( 0= no issues. 5= extreme hunger)

  • Fatigue issues ( 0= no issues. 5= exceptionally fatigued)

  • Stress issues  ( 0= no issues. 5= divorce or death in the family)

  • Sleep issues ( 0= no issues, high quality sleep. 5= insomnia)

  • Mood issues (0 = no issue. 5 = constantly worse mood than normal)  

  • Cravings  (0 = no issues. 5= Extreme and constant cravings)

  • Gym Performance (0= no issues/recovery. 5= Poor gym sessions/recovery

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What Should You Do When Fat Loss Stalls ?

The first thing is to make sure that fat loss has actually stalled, take a look at your scale weight and measurements and see if they’ve both come to a screeching halt.

Many people get single scale weight or measurement reading and assume that fat loss isn’t happening anymore.

In reality dieting can be a stressful situation for your body because you’re putting it in a state of controlled starvation.

As a result of this stress combined with other life stressors like work and a lack of sleep you may retain excess water that can mask fat loss on the scale and with measurements.

To make sure this isn’t the case look at your trends and make sure it’s not just a single week of higher readings before making and adjustment.

For people who aren’t tracking you can  swap out a few foods for a lower calorie version or reduce some carbs and fats at meals/snack.

Maybe you exchange your creamer for something that’s made with almond milk and lower in calories. You drop ¼ your serving of rice or pasta at meals and add in a serving of cauliflower rice or vegetables to keep food volume the same but change the caloric content. You could also use a calorie free spray oil in certain situations.  

Another good option is to use a powdered peanut butter which has roughly ¼ the calories of normal PB!

For those who are tracking calories and macros I like to reduce calories by 5-8% depending on how well the person’s diet has been going and their adherence to the plan.

This usually results in a calorie reduction in the range of 50-100 calories per day for most people. Now we need to decide where those calories are going to come from.

Generally I like to pull those calories from either carbs or fats depending on how much of each someone is eating and their personal needs.  

So if someone is eating a lower carb higher fat diet then I’ll pull those calories predominantly from fats, and maybe a few from carbs depending on the individual's calorie intake.

Someone who’s following of a split intake in terms of carbs and fat being pretty even I’ll pull calories evenly across fats and carbs unless the person has a strong preference for keeping one of those macros higher.

At some point if calories start to get lower another alternative to dropping calories is going to be to increase daily activity levels.

Walking helps to increase your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis also known as NEAT.

“Your first question is likely what is NEAT ?”

Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Is the low grade activities that you do on a day to day basis such as walking, going from sitting to standing, fidgeting, getting ready for work or walking in the grocery store. This is the amount of calories we burn when we’re not trying to exercise or raise our heart rate, eating or sleeping.

Your next question is  likely “why would I walk for fat loss ? Shouldn’t I be doing something more intense.”

Your day to day NEAT activities end up burning far more calories than you give it credit for. In large you don’t give too much conscious thought to your day to day activity, thus don’t consider the impacts it has on fat loss.

For this reason a lot of the calories that you burn from NEAT fly underneath the radar, partly because it doesn’t leave you drenched in sweat and out of breath.

Most people who are looking to lose body fat  seem to think that spending an hour at the gym makes up for an otherwise sedentary life, but the amount of calories that are burned at the gym are low compared to the calories you expend through NEAT on a daily basis.

If you compare someone who works at a desk job to someone who is on their feet all day like a  manual laborer or waitress the caloric burn from NEAT for a laborer or waiter can could be upwards of double the desk jockey.

Now I’m not saying that you need change your career to reach your fat loss goals, but getting out and walking more can help boost your fat loss without putting extra stress on the body.

Want to download this blog as a PDF ? Click HERE to grab your copy!

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Here are a few ways you can increase your daily NEAT activity:

1.) Walk More:

This is the easiest way for you to increase your NEAT levels, and can be the difference between making progress or just maintaining being frustrated with your lack of fat loss.

Because everyone is different our calorie burn will also differ greatly and most people will be able to to burn between 150-300 calories per 30-45 minutes of walking.

At the end of the day trying to calculate the amount of calories you’re burning from walking more doesn’t matter all that much - you just need to know to walk more, and have a goal to hit.

Hitting a specific goal is a great way to ensure you get enough walking per day. You can shoot for the standard 10,000 steps, distance or time walking as a way to help you increase your NEAT.

Here are some simple ways you can increase your walking throughout the day:

  • Go For A 30 Minute Morning Walk

  • Walk To Work

  • Walk At Lunch for 20 minutes

  • Walk On A Treadmill While Watching TV

  • Use A Treadmill Desk

  • Get A Dog/ Walk Your Dog

  • Instead of Email Walk To Tell Coworkers Messages @ Work

  • Take The Stairs

  • Park Further Away and Walk

  • Get Off The Bus/Subway A Few Stops Early and Walk

  • Batch All Your Calls Into One Time and Walk & Talk

2.) Get A Pedometer:

Now this seems to go hand in hand with the very first way to increase NEAT which is walking but getting a pedometer has shown to help people increase their daily step count by nearly 2,000 steps per day!

That means that by simply having a pedometer you’re more aware of how much you’ve been moving throughout the day and will be more likely to go for that extra walk to hit your daily step count.

3.) Mow The Lawn

4.) Clean The House More Frequently

5.) Use A standing Desk

Using a standing desk is a convenient way to make sure you’re not sitting too much but pretty much anything you can do to ensure that you’re standing more is going to be a step in the right direction.

Part of the reason why standing is beneficial is because it helps to raise our heart rate and in turn causes us to burn more calories throughout the day.

While the amount of calories burned through extra standing on a day to day basis may be small, when you accrue those calories of the course of weeks and months it adds up significantly.

6.) Wash Your Car

7.) Don’t Crush Yourself AT The Gym Everyday :

This last point may seem counter intuitive since so many people think you need to be really sore or leave the gym drenched in sweat to have gotten a good workout.

If you’re too sore and beat up from a work out earlier in the week your willingness to want to get up and move around more throughout the day is going to be reduced because that movement is going to be painful.  

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High Days and Diet Breaks

Something  to keep in mind is that you’ll need to be very honest with yourself about your adherence level because it can all add up and stall out your fat loss without your realizing it.  

The small bites. Licking the peanut butter knife, samples at the grocery store and small granola bars at the office can add up to a good amount of calories on a weekly and monthly basis.

If looking at those honestly you don’t feel those are the reason you’re not making progress or if you’re just feeling burned out in general from dieting after 8-12 weeks it could be time for some high days and a diet break.

A high day is 1-2 days per week where you  purposefully increase your calories by anywhere from 300-500 depending on how lean you already are.

The majority of these extra calories should come from carbohydrates, as they are the most effective macronutrient at boosting leptin and thyroid levels, keeping the metabolism humming along.  

A full diet break is returning to maintenance calorie intake level for 1-2 weeks after a 8-12 week period of eating for fat loss.

It should be noted that you will likely gain a few pounds of weight back when on a diet break. This especially true for people who have been using a low carb diet.

This is not a cause for concern as most of the weight will be from water storage and increased muscle glycogen (carbohydrates stored in the muscle).

You will be eating more so there will also be more food in the digestive system as well contributing to gaining a few pounds.

The diet break has a number of purposes both from a psychological and physiological perspective.

By breaking your fat loss up into chunks of time, and taking a full break it allows you to remove the stress psychologically of eating for fat loss.

Long term you'll  have better control of your nutrition without feeling the need to go entirely off the rails.

Physiologically is allows you to normalize metabolic function, restore leptin and other hormones that will help you to achieve much better fat loss results in the future.

Conclusion:

Your overall fat loss is going to be determined by the amount of calories you eat, and to lose body fat you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis.

There is no magic diet, they can all works when they’re used to help someone get in a calorie deficit so don’t feel like you have to follow a specific diet.

Eat in a way that suits your preferences and lifestyle, and have some way to gauge portion sizes and calories.

You can use a multitude of ways to do this or choose from the ones provided in this blog like  simple meal template, hand based portions or counting calories and macros.

Try to make at least 80% the eats you eat comes from nutrient dense whole foods like leaner proteins, lots of vegetables and fruits, minimally processed carbohydrates and healthy sources of fat.

If you need a few examples of what minimally processed whole foods are look back at the food sources I listed in the food choices section of the blog. 

Focus on eating enough protein and doing some form of strength training or exercise and increase your daily activity to help give your fat loss a boost.

Measure your fat loss progress going beyond just the scale and take some progress pictures, measurements and answer the biofeedback questions every 1-2 weeks.

When fat loss stalls reduce your calories by swapping out for some lower calorie options or replace carbs or fats with some vegetables or using less oil or a different lower calorie variety.

You can also choose to increase your daily activity as a pose to dropping food intake as a way to burn some extra calories while keeping stress on the body low.

If you’re starting to feel like it’s a real physical, and or psychological grind after 8-12 of dieting and really need a break, it’s likely a good idea to incorporate some higher carb days, or an overall diet break where you bring calories back to maintenance for 1-2 weeks then head back into dieting again if that’s still the goal.

If you’re reading this it means that fat loss is likely a goals of yours, and as a reward for your reading dedication I have a treat for you!

Starting January 22nd- March 19th I’m running a special 8 week fats loss challenge named the Live Leaner Longer Challenge.

Right now I’m offering a pre sale price for the challenge of $197, and after that the price will go up to $247!

Here’s The Benefits of The Live Leaner Longer Challenge:

  • Personalized goal setting

  • Individualized nutrition habits to make sure you achieve those goals

  • Show you exactly how to eat to lose body, and be able to maintain that fat loss

  • Remove the stress of knowing what to do next to continue losing body fat

  • Connection and community with other like minded people who have the same mission as you

  • Accountability and support to make sure you follow through and reach your goals

  • Weekly check ins with Email and Q&A

  • A Private Facebook group to share and connect with other people

  • PDF's that show you how to make everything from grocery shopping to meal prep easier

For more details on the challenge and to claim your spot, and get the discounted price of $197 Click HERE.

If there’s anything else I can help you with or if you want to give me feedback on this blog post I’d love if you dropped a comment below or emailed me evolvent.pdx@gmail.com

How To Make Sure You Don't Hate Your Next Diet

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Apologies for the blog absence as of late!

I've been working on a fat loss blog that quickly turned into a 38 page blog, and of course if I'm going to write a big blog I have to make custom graphics for each section which only makes the process longer

That blog should be all put together and dropping later this week or next, however I thought I'd use a part of that blog as a teaser to share with you all. 

In Section from the fat loss blog we're discussing the different factors to consider when it comes to picking your dietary approach. 

I don't think enough people take into account what personally suits them before they hop on a diet. 

We've all heard the person who described how much they hate the current diet they were on, and we knew they wouldn't stick with it. 

The goal of this blog is to make sure you're not that person!

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1.)Activity level & what kind of activity are you doing ?

Your overall fat loss will be controlled by your calorie intake, however if you’re able to better fuel your activity in the gym and throughout the day you will recover better and allow for more high quality work in the gym.

Being less sore and recovering better can translate to more movement throughout the day, more trips to the gym and an overall greater calorie burn. While the calories expended may be small every advantage in fat loss should be used.

More intense and longer forms of exercise like crossfit or mixed martial arts are going to be better fueled with a higher carbohydrate intake which can will also help with recovery.

Those with a more active lifestyle or job like someone who works in manual labor or as a waiter will also be able to to better tolerate carbs due to their overall activity, and calorie burn throughout the day.

If you’re more sedentary, and hit the gym for an hour a few times per week you’ll do fine with a more even split of carbohydrates and fats, but likely won’t need a higher end intake of carbohydrates.

Those who are very overweight and live a more sedentary life may benefit from keeping carbohydrates lower and increasing fats to help with some initial weight loss and help to remove some of the easier to overeat calorie dense foods.

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2.)What foods do you enjoy eating ?

Your dietary preference, and the foods you enjoy eating is something that needs to be considered when it comes to choosing your diet as well.

Adherence and consistency are the two largest factors when it comes to seeing fat loss results.

If you feel poorly and don’t like the foods you’re eating on a specific diet than your chances of sticking with it are going to be very low.

However if you eat in way that you enjoy, and feel less deprived then it’s much easier to stay consistent.  

Trying to fit a round peg in a square hole is never going to be a good fit, and there’s a multitude of dietary approaches to choose from.

Choose the approach you can see yourself sticking to for a longer period of time.  

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3.)Are there foods you have strong aversions to ?

This could also be categorized in the foods you enjoy section but this on the opposite end of that spectrum with foods that you don’t do well with.

Maybe they upset your digestion, make you feel bloated or you have a full blown food allergy.

Your dietary approach should reflect these needs.

If you’re someone who doesn’t tolerate gluten or grains very well or have a specific autoimmune condition giving the paleo diet a try or even the autoimmune paleo protocol could be helpful.

If you have lots of digestive issues you may need to use an approach such excludes certain types of carbohydrates and nightshades like on the FODMAPS diet.

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4.)Do you like more carbs or fats more ?

Generally people like foods that are going to be denser in carbohydrates or more fatty, maybe an even split of the two.

If you really enjoy fattier foods then going ketogenic may be a good approach for you to follow, but if you prefer more carbs then this wouldn’t be the right fit for you.

When it comes to carbs and fats I view them as a teeter totter meaning if one goes up, then the other has to come down to make room in the total calories for fat loss to happen.

As an example if you increase carbs that means fats need to be reduced,  in the same way that if fats are increased carbs need to be decreased to make sure you’re achieving a calorie deficit.

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5.)Do You Have AnyTrigger foods ?

If there are certain foods that are very easy for you to overeat, or you choose not to use control when you start eating them it might be better to choose a dietary approach that excludes these foods for you, and give clear guidelines to not consume them.

You might need to draw a line in the sand and keep these foods out of the house for a period of time to allow yourself to build some uninterrupted momentum towards your goal.

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6.)Are you heavier or leaner ?

Overall calorie intake and balance will be the main driver of your ability to lose fat at the end of the day.

However your level of body fat can impact how well you metabolize carbohydrates, and your bodies ability to use them efficiently.  

If you have a significant amount of fat to lose, and are very overweight or obese using a lower carb approach in the beginning can be better as your ability to use carbs efficiently will be reduced.

Some people find a lower carb approach to be more satiating, help with hunger levels, balance out energy and curb cravings which are all big wins on a fat loss plan.

The initial water reduction from lowering carbs diets can also be highly motivating for when you have  a lot of weight to lose.

Seeing the number on the scale drop quickly helps you to feel encouraged by the process ahead and seeing progress like that can help with adherence.

Those who are leaner, and have a higher level of activity are likely to do better with more carbs prioritized in their diet.

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7.)Have you had success in the past, and what approach did you use ?

When you look back through your past with changing your nutrition habits or dieting it’s important to think about what aspects of past diets worked well, and what didn’t work well.

From there the goal is to replicate what worked well for you, while avoiding the things that didn’t meet your needs or suit you.

I do this with my clients and write the different qualities of each down so we can use these points in developing their nutrition plan.

Questions to consider:

  • What  diets have you tried in the past ?

  • What worked ?

  • What didn’t work ?

  • What did you like about that approach ?

  • What didn’t you like about that approach ?

If you're not sure where to go next because trying what you've used in the past isn't working anymore click the button below and let's get you on the right path towards your fat loss goals!

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8.)Rigid or Flexible Strategy ?

This is a personality trait that’s helpful to understand about yourself when it comes to developing a nutrition strategy that fits you as an individual.

Rigid: People who are more on the rigid side of things do much better with built in rules like eating certain foods, and avoiding others entirely.

The structure of a more rigid approach allows this individual to be more successful because it serves their black and white mentality with foods. There are foods they eat, and other they avoid which makes it simple, cut and dry.  

As an example someone who restricts avoids cookies, because they end up eating the entire sleeve of cookies once the seal is broken.

Flexible: This is the kind of person who can moderate their intake of foods very well, and is able to enjoy a wide range of foods without feeling the compulsion to overeat on certain foods.

The people who do well with a more flexible approach are the folks who can have a cookie or two because it fits their plan, and then put the package back in cupboard.

This is strictly anecdotal based on my experience but I’ve found that people who do well  on a  flexible approach have a  more analytical type A personality type, and enjoy the numbers game of calories and macros.

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9.)Metabolic Health ?

Metabolic health refers to someone who has a past history of extreme and or crash dieting and has tried every diet under the sun in the pursuit of fat loss.

For those of you who have crash dieted for years, and lived in the diet and binge cycle without any time spent just trying to maintain body weight levels you may not be in a metabolically or psychologically healthy state to go on another diet.

This is the last thing you want to hear if you have a fat loss goal, but if you’ve put your body through the ringer with diet after diet and losing and gaining weight year after year something isn’t working and a new approach is needed.

The ability to maintain your weight is just as important, if not more so than you ability to lose weight. Everyone has lost weight before, however very few people have learned how to maintain their new weight and tend to gain it right back.

You may need to give the body some time to be at a stable body weight, and repair your relationship with food before you consider going on another diet.

Because I don’t know you dieting history it’s tough to say how long you should aim to maintain for but a period of 6 months seems reasonable.

I know this is not what you wanted to read in a blog on fat loss, but if this section has resonated with you, and you’re done banging your head against the wall then it may be time to learn how to maintain before you consider trying to lose fat again.

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10. Whole and Nutritious Foods

While yes calories are going to be the main determining factor of your fat loss, keep in mind that the quality of foods you consume is going to have a huge impact on your hunger levels and overall health/longevity.

Even when people follow the 80/20 principle of flexibility, keep in mind that 80% of someone’s diet is still coming from nutrient dense whole foods.

Enjoying indulgences from time to time is nice, but when it comes to managing your hunger and staying fuller for longer while keeping calories in check whole foods wins that race.