The word 'diet' doesn't actually mean a low calorie/fat/carb eating pattern. It is just a word to describe the food you eat on a daily basis, whether you think it is good or bad, it is your diet. Knowing how to diet starts with knowing what you eat. There are many useful food logging applications you can use to track your daily intake, such as; MyFitnessPal, SHealth, LoseIT and SparkPeople. Tracking apps can be useful if you have a general understanding of nutritional information labels and don't take their recommendations to literally (they are there as a guideline only).
I recommend my nutrition and contest prep clients track their food and drink consumption for a minimum of 1 week (preferably 2) before they make any changes towards what they think are better food choices. The importance of this is to make sure we understand what has caused the body issues in the first place and encouraged the need for change.
Once you have your average daily caloric intake and your current ratio of fat, carbohydrate and protein intake, its time to decide on small changes that will move you closer to your goal.
Why small changes?
Clients tend to come to us seeking a total, complete diet overhaul! Its common to set a goal and decide to run for it. However, gradual changes and babysteps not only make the changes more manageable, but allow for psychological adaptations creating long term habits rather than the dreaded 'yo-yo' dieting.
So first of all lets look at the most important variable of any diet. Energy balance. This refers to calories in (or eaten) minus calories out (or burnt) giving you the amount of energy your body has left to play around with. If there is an excess, your body will store it as fat for future use (sort of like saving it for a rainy day). If there is a defecit, your body will draw on those fat stores to use as fuel to keep you alive. It really is that simple. However, there are other variables that can be manipulated to make sure that the diet has the required effect.
Diet plans follow a specific ratio of macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) to create the correct energy and hormonal balance for you. Unfortunately, there is no 'one size fits all' approach and what works for some may not for others. Food is fuel, it is basically petrol for the most valuable car you will ever own and without the correct balance of calories and macronutrients your energy levels, performance, brain function and even hormonal harmony may suffer.
When planning a fat loss diet, it can be challenging to find the right balance of protein, fats and carbs. It is essential to factor in enough of each macronutrient in order to keep your everyday quality of life whilst maintaining your lean tissue and allowing optimal training performance.
This may all seem like a lengthy task and honestly should take around 4-6 weeks of small tweaks and trial and error to find a balance that works best for you. Once you have the correct information for your body and your goals all it takes is slight adjustments to see big results.
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