The reality is there’s too much information on fat loss and nutrition out there and everyone is trying to get you to follow their diet because they believe it is the best.
Here’s the dirty little secret of the diet and fat loss industry every single diet works when you adhere to the correct principle of fat loss which is creating a calorie deficit.
However just saying to create a calorie deficit leaves you with any real actionable steps to take away.
So in today’s blog we’re going to cover three simple and easy methods for creating a calorie deficit no matter what kind of diet you’re following.
But before we get into the three simple and easy methods let’s chat about why picking the best that works for you as an individual is so important!
Every Diet Works, Pick What Works For You
There’s no one diet that is going to be perfect for everyone so it seems silly when people get so tribal and dogmatic about their diet being the absolute best.
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 diet.
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 because of the the diet itself being magic.
Let’s take a quick look at how some of the common diets help people to achieve a calorie deficit.
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 work as well for someone else.
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, and each taking a different routes.
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.
Pick the diet or method for losing fat this is going to work the best for you as an individual, also don’t be afraid to experiment, and find out what doesn’t work along the way that’s just as important as knowing what does work.
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.
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 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’ve likely heard a lot of people freak out about tracking all their macros, proteins fats and carbs but in my opinion if you’re looking for fat loss and aren’t chasing athletic goals then using the simplest method possible will help.
That method is my opinion is to track calories and protein and then let carbs and fats fall where they may.
To find the calories you should be eating for fat loss track your calories for 5-7 days in my fitness pal, and also track your scale weight and measurements for the week too so you have a baseline to go off of.
If you’ve been stuck and frustrated for A long time then I’d recommend tossing your food on a food scale to make sure you’re being accurate with how many calories you’re eating.
If you have a big issue with using a food scale for a week and you’ve been stuck for a while there’s two options…
Continue feeling stuck and confused banging your head against a wall because you aren’t seeing progress or use a scale for a week and rule out easy to correct calorie overages.
I can’t tell you the amount of clients who have been stalled, and used a food scale for a week and came in 250-400 calories above what they were entering into MFP, and once we corrected that they were making progress within a week.
Now that you’ve tracked your calories for 5-7 days take the average of your calories for that last week and see if you had any changes in scale or measurements during that time too.
If nothing has moved progress wise you’re not eating in a calorie deficit, which is extremely easy to correct.
Reduce the amount of calories you’re currently eating by 10-20% per day and retest your progress again to make sure you have things moving in the right direction.
Eventually this calorie intake will stop getting you results though, and this is where you’d make a 5-8% calorie reduction, and at a certain point take a diet break all together.
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, steak, turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tuna.
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.
The best options are: 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: