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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.

Beverly Brewer Karpinski

Eating for Fat Loss

In my last blog I talked about the 10 rules for fat loss.  Today I will get into more specific foods choices—what to include in your diet and which foods to limit and/or eliminate for optimal fat loss.  Remember, you can have one free day in which you can eat whatever you want.

When eating for fat loss it is important to choose nutrient dense foods, meaning foods low in calories and high in nutrition.  Include high quality protein, a wide variety of vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, and small amounts of healthy fats.  Plan for a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.  Most people tend to eat their same favorite foods everyday.  Aim for 30 different kinds of produce every week.  I know that sounds like a lot but it is about 4-5 different fruits and vegetables daily.

Fruits

Stick to fruits that are low on the glycemic index.  The best choice is berries—eat any and all varieties, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  Eat fresh, put them in your shakes, and eat frozen for a sweet snack.  Other good choices include apples, grapefruit, and cherries.  Always eat your fruit with protein.  Putting them in your protein shakes is the easiest way.  You can also eat with peanut butter or a small handful of nuts.

Other fruits, such as bananas, grapes, pineapple, and oranges are higher in sugar and should be limited and/or saved for eating in the morning or with your post-workout recovery meal (to be eaten within an hour of your workout).  Canned fruit should never be eaten!  Even if it says “lite” fruit or “packed in fruit juice.”

Veggies

You can eat any kind of vegetables—fresh or frozen--except for the more starchy vegetables:  peas, corn, carrots, and potatoes, which should be either limited, eliminated, or saved for your free day.  Try to include dark green, leafy veggies every day (please, no iceberg lettuce).  Some good choices are broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables), asparagus, spinach, arugula, and peppers.  Also include a variety of fresh herbs for flavoring.

Protein

Be sure to eat plenty of good quality protein.  Eggs are the perfect protein.  Be sure to limit the amount of egg yolks you eat though—that’s where all the fat is.  Egg whites offer pure protein with few calories.  Try eating a 4-5 egg white omelet or include one yolk if you must.

When buying beef or pork, pick cuts that end in “loin” for the leanest choices.  Buy organic, grass-fed meat, if at all possible.  Other meats you can include are flank steak, lean turkey, chicken breasts, bison, and Canadian bacon.  If you like seafood, excellent choices include tuna (in moderation), halibut, salmon, shrimp and scallops.  Be sure to purchase wild varieties and not farm raised!

You will definitely want to include protein shakes in your fat loss diet.  Whey protein is the best choice.  For hypoallergenic varieties try rice or pea protein powder.  I’m not big on soy protein and don’t believe it is the best choice for fat loss.  It can also cause indigestion in some individuals.  You can include up to two shakes a day but make sure one is your recovery shake, consumed within one hour after your workout.

Grains and Starchy Carbs

Oatmeal and oat bran (hot cereal) are good choices.  Dry cereals are not a good choice, even the high fiber varieties.  However, some of my clients insist on eating cereal because of convenience.  In that case I recommend Kashi’s Go Lean cereal (the high protein variety that includes 13 grams protein and 10 grams fiber per serving).

As mentioned before, you will want to stay away from starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes, white rice, and pasta (including whole wheat varieties) or save for your free day.  Better choices would be sweet potatoes, brown rice or quinoa.  Be sure to watch your portion sizes!

I know that whole grains provide fiber, however, try to get most of your fiber from fruits and vegetables rather than from grains.  When you reach your fat loss goals, you can slowly add more carbohydrates back into your diet.

Beans

Save beans for your free day or include very small servings 2-3 times per week (you can eat green beans).  Although beans are healthy and have lots of protein and fiber, they are also very starchy.

Dairy

Limit dairy during your fat loss program (remember that milk has sugar in it).  Eat two servings per day either in the morning or for your post-workout recovery meal.  Be sure to stick to non-fat or low-fat varieties.  If you eat yogurt, buy plain non-fat (Fage greek styleyogurt is my favorite) and add your own berries and/or nuts to it.  If you eat cheese you will want to stick to small amounts of hard cheeses like parmesan or gruyere, and low-fat varieties.

Fats & Oils

No bottled dressing allowed! They are usually full of sugar and not so healthy fats, not to mention other undesirable ingredients.  Make your own dressing—they are so easy to make and taste so much better.  Add more vinegar than you normally do.  I just drizzle equal portions of olive oil and wine vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper most of the time.  Buy a variety of vinegars and mix with a high quality extra-virgin olive oil, add some fresh herbs and you have a tasty salad.  You can also mix the oil with lemon or lime juice for variety.

Other fats and oils you can have in moderation include nut butters such as no-sugar added peanut butter or almond butter, avocado, raw nuts, and olives.  Remember, these fats are good for you but contain a lot of calories.  A dozen nuts per day, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, about 1/4 of an avocado, or 5 or 6 olives would be appropriate.  Any kind of margarine or butter spreads should be eliminated or saved for your free day.

Beverages

Most of your beverage consumption should be water.  If you have a hard time drinking water you can add fresh lemon juice or sliced cucumbers to your water.  Cucumbers are a natural diuretic and added to water they make a quite refreshing beverage.  Tea is another excellent choice--you can have green or black tea.  Green tea can actually aid in fat loss.  If you love milk stick to non-fat milk, and preferably make it organic.  If you have to have something sweet in the evening, try a dark chocolate cocoa like Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa made with xylitol or stevia.

Other Foods to Avoid

Deli meats (unless low-sodium with no sodium nitrates/nitrites)

Added sugar (all types)

Alcohol (Save for free day or 2-3 servings wine per week with dinner)

Remember, we are not counting calories.  It’s all about appropriate food choices, portion sizes, eating before you get too hungry.  Plan for activity and healthy eating each week, purchase the foods you need, prepare some meals ahead of time for convenience, make sure you exercise at least three times per week and you are on your way to a new, lean you.  Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Photo:  Mike Henry Photo

About the author

Beverly Brewer Karpinski
Beverly Brewer Karpinski
• Owner and director of "Fit to the Core" In-Home Personal Training
• Health and Fitness Inc. Certified Personal Trainer, 2001
• A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, 2004
• Certified Master Fitness by Phone Coach, 2005
• Strength & Conditioning Personal Trainer Certificate, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ, 2008
• Wellness Editor, Puma Press, 2007-2008
• Currently in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise & Wellness.
• Fitness Manager & Director, Curves for Women, 2004-2006
• In-Home personal training, 2002-Present
• Personal Trainer, Naturally Women, 2004-2006
• Personal Trainer, Total Woman, 2001-2004
• Core Stability Specialty Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001
• Advanced Biomechanics Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001


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