This week we're soldiering on with our 21 Fat Loss Tips series, and we're continuing with Part 3 Today. If you haven’t read the previous two blogs in the series you can find Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.
In Part 3 today we’re covering some really valuable tips that I know you’re going to enjoy and may challenge some preconceived notions you have.
Fat Loss Tip #13: Keep foods simple
When you keep food, and meals simple it helps prevent food related decision fatigue. Simplicity helps to limit food choices, and prevents having to constantly decide what you’re going to eat.
After a long stressful day at work when you’re hungry and headed home is when you’re the most susceptible to making poor dietary decisions.
When you have a few simple go to meals that are easy to make it allows you to stay on track with nutrition without overthinking it.
These could be easy meals like a salad, egg scrambles, a simple stir fry or even pre cooked foods in the fridge.
An additional benefit of keeping meals simple is it reduces the hyper palatability. When we eat foods that mix a ton of flavors it can stimulate the reward center in our brain, and create an urge to eat more of those foods.
By keeping foods and meals simpler it helps to reduce the hyper palatability of meals, and allows people to stop eating when they’re no longer hungry, rather than stuffed.
As humans we’re naturally horrible at estimating food portions and the caloric content of foods. The more complex a meal gets the more difficult it is to tell how much you’re actually eating.
By keeping foods simpler it will be much easier to know how much you’re eating, and eyeball portion sizes.
Fat Loss Tip #14: Track Your Food Intake
By tracking your food intake for a little bit you’ll automatically be more aware of your dietary habits, and be able to see some areas that are holding you back.
You don’t have to track everyday for the rest of your life, but doing it for a few days gives some great insight.
We all have a lot of subconscious scripts around food and nutrition habits that we may not be aware of.
One of the more helpful aspects of tracking is getting data on how much you’re really eating, compared to how much you think you’re eating.
In studies where participants reported their estimated calorie intake they under reported by a significant degree (upwards of 47%).
Chances are very good that you’re eating more than you think you are on a daily basis.
All those snacks at the office or the samples at the grocery store can add up quickly when you don’t account for them.
By tracking you can see exactly how much you’re eating and be able to make any necessary changes to your calorie intake or tweak the amount of protein, fats and carbs you’re eating as well.
Fat Loss Tip #15: Use Exercise For Health, Not To Burn Calories
It’s a losing battle trying to use exercise alone to burn calories and lose body fat.
Formal exercise actually burns far fewer calories than many people think, regardless of what your fitbit or the elliptical says.
Exercise only accounts for roughly 10-25% of your total calorie burn, and the higher end of that spectrum closer to 25% is the people who have multiple training sessions per day.
For many this calorie burn from exercise alone is not a large enough energy deficit to create meaningful fat loss on a regular basis.
I firmly believe that anyone who is looking to lose body fat should absolutely be exercising but for different reasons than burning calories.
First would be that anyone who’s strength training while dieting will be able to maintain, and in some cases build muscle mass.
Have more muscle mass is connected to both living longer, but also having a higher quality of life. Think of getting off the toilet on your own when you’re 85 years old, kind of looks like a squat...
This muscle allows you to keep a higher metabolic rate and expend more calories because of the caloric cost to maintain muscle.
Lifting weights will also help you to get stronger, and is a pivotal aspect of maintaining fat loss long term. Healthy habits tend to snowball together!
Another interesting note is that when some people kill themselves at the gym they tend to move less throughout the rest of the day afterwards.
This decrease in NEAT from a brutal gym session can have a negative impact on your calorie burn because the gym lasts one hour, however NEAT takes place the entire rest of the day.
My recommendation is to use nutrition and exercise together in a fat loss plan, they compliment each other very nicely!
Fat Loss Tip #16: Track Your Progress
If you don’t measure your progress it’s going to be difficult to know whether you should continue on the same path, or make some tweaks.
Far too often people rely only on the scale as their only measure of progress. While scales can give some useful information it doesn’t tell the whole story going on.
Here is how I would recommend you measure and gauge your progress:
1.) Weigh Yourself
For some people the scale becomes a slippery slope and they get too caught up in the number. If that sounds like you it may be time to put the scale away and use the other methods we’ll be discussing.
Typically if you’re losing fat then the number on the scale should trend downward, but this doesn’t mean you should expect to see a lower number on the scale every day.
Look at the overall trends of your weight for weeks and months, don’t obsess over day to day changes as daily fluctuations can be influenced by:
Time of day you weigh yourself
As you can see there’s a number of factors to account for here so weigh yourself at the same time each morning and compare numbers week to week.
For women you’ll need to compare your weight from the same week of your cycle otherwise hormones and water retention can interfere with accuracy.
2.) Take Circumference Measurements
This is useful because sometimes your weight may go up, however if your waist measurement goes down it’s a sign that things are moving in the right direction. Maybe your weight drops but your measurements maintain that’s also a good sign.
Take circumference measurement at each these points every two weeks and write the numbers down. You may need some help with a few of these, but most can be done on your own.
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: Right at the belly button, wrapping the tape measure around until it gets back to 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.
3.) Progress Pictures
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 a 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.
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.
Part 4 thats wraps up this series is going to be out shortly. Stay tuned!