Fit To The Core Blog
Welcome to Fit to the Core’s “Everything you ever wanted to know about fitness” blog. Everyday people are bombarded with conflicting health and fitness messages by the media. It can be overwhelming. I hope to clear up some of those conflicting messages by sharing what I have learned over the years and what I am still learning. The fitness industry is a young industry that is constantly changing and evolving. Let me clear up some of the confusion.
Many of my clients wonder why they aren’t losing body fat when they insist that they eat a relatively healthy diet. What they don’t understand is that many so-called “healthy” foods are not necessarily the best foods to eat for fat loss.
When deciding what foods to eat, you first need to decide what you are trying to accomplish. Are you looking for a heart healthy diet? Are you trying to lower your blood pressure or your cholesterol? Are you trying to lower your body fat?
Many healthy foods can also be high in calories. Although I believe in eating intuitively, meaning there are no forbidden foods, when you are trying to lose a significant amount of body fat, you will need to limit certain foods. For instance, many heart healthy foods such as nuts, olives, avocado, and olive oil are healthy fats but they are also higher in calories. It’s important to limit these good fats while on a fat loss program. In addition, the foods you choose to eat will determine whether your body burns fat or sugar for fuel. Think lean and green. You can give yourself a free day once a week to eat your favorite foods so that you do not feel deprived.
Although proper food selection is important in fat loss it is only part of the picture. In order to successfully lose body fat there are a number of rules you need to adhere to. Today I will be talking about the 10 rules for fat loss. In my next blog I will get into specific food choices to include in a fat loss diet and which foods to limit.
- Eat breakfast every day. Many of my clients say they don’t have time for breakfast or they just aren’t hungry. However, if you are serious about losing body fat you will make time for breakfast. Even if you are not hungry, you must eat something. After you have been eating breakfast consistently for a couple of weeks your body will adjust and you will want to eat breakfast. Studies have shown that individuals who lose weight and keep it off usually eat breakfast.
- Eat 5-6 small meals per day. Many of my female clients have a hard time with this rule. Many keep themselves going all day long with caffeine and sugar. I use to be one of these women. However, when I started to eat several times a day my body adjusted to my new schedule. I naturally became hungry every three hours. For fat loss it is important that you never let yourself get too hungry. Eating this way keeps your blood sugar level, gives you mental clarity, keeps you energetic and creates a thermogenic effect that keeps your body burning fat throughout the day.
- Eat adequate amounts of protein with every meal. The amount of protein you need to consume depends on your activity level. Appropriate levels could be anywhere between .7 grams to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. Protein helps you to feel full for a longer period of time. It takes your body longer to break down proteins than it does carbohydrates and fats. Protein also gives your body the building blocks needed for building and/or maintaining muscle. This is especially important if you are exercising, which you should be if you are on a fat loss mission.
- Drink plenty of water. An easy way to determine how much water to drink is to take your current weight, divide it by two, and that is how many ounces of water you should be drinking. Water is the largest component of total body weight. It is the most valuable nutrient. If you do not drink enough water, your body will actually retain water, giving you that bloated feeling. Staying well hydrated will help your body to flush excess water. Drink a large glass of water (16 oz) with each of your 5-6 meals and you will consume 80-96 ounces of water per day.
- Get adequate sleep. If you do not get enough quality sleep you set yourself up for failure. Research has shown that lack of sleep increases the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, and decreases the release of growth hormones. Cortisol makes you feel hungry even when you are eating an adequate amount of food. Lack of growth hormones limits our ability to build muscle and lose body fat. In addition, if you are working out regularly, it is important for you to get adequate rest for muscle repair. We build muscle while sleeping, not when we are working out!
- Eliminate sugar and reduce starchy foods in your diet. Remember that any food ingredient that ends in “ose” is sugar. That includes sucrose, fructose, and lactose. Of course, there are many more names for sugar besides these. Read your food label ingredients list! Starchy foods should be kept to a minimum—save them for your free day. Starchy foods include some vegetables, such as peas, carrots and corn. Even when eating healthier whole grains it is important to watch your portions.
- Consume 25-30 grams of fiber every day. Even though whole grains are higher in fiber, try to watch portion sizes, as mentioned before. Try to get most of your fiber from fruits and vegetables. Eating more fiber will give you that full feeling, reducing your urge to eat.
- Limit refined foods. When at the supermarket, shop the perimeters of the store. There are some dangerous foods on the interior isles! Refined foods add empty calories that will sabotage your fat loss efforts. When you do eat a refined product, make sure it is high in protein—aim for 15 grams—and less than 30 grams of carbs per serving.
- Never skip a meal. Never let yourself get hungry! It is important to keep healthy snacks with you at all times. Keep them at work, in your car and in your purse. Keep some convenience foods for those times when you can’t have a proper meal, such as nuts, seeds, fruit, carrot sticks, nutrition bars and beef jerky. Make sure you have something with protein.
- Eat low glycemic fruits and plenty of vegetables. You want to eat more vegetables than fruit while on a fat loss diet. Low glycemic fruits are preferable, such as berries, grapefruit and apples. When you do eat higher glycemic fruits or vegetables eat them in the morning or with your recovery meal after exercising. Aim for 3-5 servings of vegetables per day and 2 servings of fruit. Make sure to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week. Don’t eat the same ones every day.
Although following these rules will help to reduce your body fat, participating in an effective exercise program will get you results much faster. Next time I will get into more specific healthy foods to include in your fat loss program.
Photo: Courtesy of Flickr (hyg-27)
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