Fat loss is simple, calorie in vs calorie out, right? All you have to do is know exactly how many calories you burn and know exactly how many calories you eat. Easier said that done. Between all the online calculators that are probably way off and the many misguided information there is on the world wide web it’s hard to see the truth, let alone to put it in practice. And there is also that little thing called individual differences. No calculator can calculate the uniqueness of each and every individual on this planet. Now we have that out of our way let’s see what is a correct way of dealing with fat loss. It all comes down to eating well, knowing when to eat, portion sizes and drinking enough water.
How To Eat
I can not stress enough that eating slow might be the most important key to fat loss. Food digests better and the brain has time to send a signal that there is enough food in the body. How to eat slow.. well first of all take the time to actually chew the food. Then before taking another bite, make sure the mouth is empty! Also breaks are very good. Half way through the meal, put down the fork, knife and / or spoon, drink some water and only start eating again if you’re still hungry. Do not eat in front of the TV, or any other screen! Take the time and enjoy the different flavors.
When to Eat
People have different opinions about this. some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, other people say that it doesn’t matter if you eat breakfast or not. Others do intermittent fasting, meaning they won’t eat until the afternoon or even later.
It all comes down if a person is working out or not, and how intense a workout is.
To a person that doesn’t workout at all I would say have the “biggest” meal in the morning and as the day progresses eat a little lighter. The reasoning behind this is that the big breakfast will be burnt throughout the day because of moving around, working, doing chores or whatever it is that people do throughout the day. Usually people stop moving after the last meal so that’s why that meal should be light.
To a person that does workout I would say the most important meals are the pre- and post-workout meals. Especially the post-workout meal. You see when we finish an intense workout the body is deprived of a lot of nutrients, the stored glycogen is used up, muscle and red blood cells are broken down and after a very intense workout the body can easily sweat over a liter of water. Ingesting carbohydrates after a workout is crucial in replenishing glycogen stores. Muscles feed on protein, so protein must be eaten to rebuild the broken down muscle tissue. And of course hydration to make up for all the sweat. This post-workout meal should be eaten within 30 minutes – 2 hours after a workout. The rest of the day try to avoid carbohydrates that are high in their glycemic index (white bread, white pasta , white sugar, fruits high in sugar, candy, cereal etc).
Here it can get a little complicated. You can try and calculate the amount of calories needed, how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you’re supposed to eat. But like I mentioned before online calculators are often way off and each person on this planet is unique. The simple way to know how much to eat of every macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein and fat) is using your hands and a little bit of your brain.. you do need to know how to count to two.
- Your palm determines your protein portions.
- Your two cupped hands determine your vegetable portions.
- Your one cupped hand determines your carbohydrates and fruit portions.
- Your thumb determines your fat portions.
For protein dense foods like meat, fish, or egg whites use one palm sized serving. Two palms for men.
For vegetables like broccoli, spinach, fresh salad, cucumbers, carrots etc. use two hands cupped together sized serving. Double the amount for men.
Carbohydrates and Fruits
For carbohydrate dense foods like grains, rice, potatoes or fruits use one cupped hand sized serving. Two cupped hands for men.
For fat dense foods like oils, nuts, nut butters, etc. use the entire thumb sized serving. Two thumbs for men.
The hand size correlates pretty closely with general body size, including muscle, bone – the whole package but still this serves as a starting point for 4 meals a day. You can’t know exactly how your body will respond in advance. So be flexible and adjust the portions based on your hunger, fullness, and other important goals. Also be patient! It takes some time for the body to adjust and lose fat or gain weight. If you’re trying to lose fat but don’t seem to get any results after 4 weeks, try to eliminate some of the carbs or fat at particular meals (not the post-workout meal!). Or if you’re having trouble gaining weight, you can add extra carbs or protein.
Water, water and more water. Most people know that drinking water is good for the body, but do they really know? Water is so beneficial, so easy, yet so easily overlooked. The amount of water for each person is very individual, but if the pee isn’t (mostly) clear you most likely aren’t getting enough water. I would start with a minimum of 2 liters. When you don’t like the taste just add a squirt of lemon or lime, a few sprigs of fresh mint, a cucumber or orange slice. Start your day with water. Drink it before, during and after each meal and of course throughout the day. Have a bottle of water ready in your car, office or wherever you spend most of your day. When you have a craving for something, first drink water, then see if the craving is still there. People often mistake a craving for thirst!