Let’s talk about diets. Why? Because most people seem to be on a “diet” for most of their life. The majority of us are serial dieters whose weight fluctuates within the same range of ‘plus or minus 5 pounds’. We get close to breaking free of this range and then ‘BANG!’ - the diet hits us too hard, we slip up, feel bad, binge, and the cycle starts all over again.
This happens because most of us are hopelessly unaware of the best approach to take when trying to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s confusing out there. Dr. Oz says we should put butter in our coffee, but the government tells us to consume a low-fat diet. Luckily, the science behind weight loss is very simple. Unfortunately, for most people, developing the necessary habits to lose weight and keep it off is not so simple. If you’d like to learn about the fundamentals of weight loss, click HERE before moving on.
We know that to lose weight, you must sustain a calorie deficit until you reach your desired goal. But is sustainable weight loss really that simple? Well, not quite. See, there are these things called ‘macronutrients’ that are quite a big deal. They have a huge effect on how you look and feel (especially when dieting). Not following? Let me give you the lowdown.
“What the hell is a macronutrient and why should I care?”. Good question. ‘Macro’ means ‘large’ or ‘main’, and simply put - macronutrients are the nutrients obtained from our diet that we require in large amounts.
There are 3 macronutrients;
Here’s a little info about each one:
(1 gram is 4 calories)
Trust me, only good things can come from consuming extra protein. You’ll be able to get stronger, increase muscle mass, or maintain what muscle you have whilst losing fat. It even helps to keep you full, so what’s not to love? Also, recent research provides evidence that losing muscle is a contributing factor to regaining weight after dieting(1). So do yourself a favour and make sure you’re weight training and eating all the protein!
My regular sources: Chicken breast, greek yogurt, fromage frais, and protein bread.
How much should you eat?: As you’re reading this blog, I assume that you do at least a moderate amount of exercise, so most of you should aim for around 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, per day. Overweight or under-active people need less, whilst lean and highly-active people will benefit from more).
(1 gram is 4 calories)
I feel bad for these guys because they’ve got a pretty bad reputation. “Carbs make you fat!”, “Carbs are the devil!”, “Carbs killed my best friend!!!”. Okay, maybe I added that last one in to make a point… However, the reason carbs have such a bad reputation is because people under-eat protein and overeat carbohydrates and fat (which leads to a calorie surplus and, therefore, weight gain). But, if you sustain a calorie deficit and eat a sufficient amount of protein and fat, you cannot eat too many carbohydrates to prevent you from achieving your weight loss goal.
We all love carbs, so stop fearing them - learn how to incorporate them into your diet and enjoy them every day. And why wouldn’t you? Carbohydrates improve athletic performance (i.e. help you work harder in the gym) and improve sleep quality (2). Did I mention they taste incredible? Overall, they’re pretty cool, so stop hating on my friends!
My regular sources: This month, it’s oats, pasta, white rice, and a varied selection of fruits and vegetables. Next month it might be cereal, pop tarts, and pizza… Just kidding! Maybe...
How much should you eat?: This varies from person to person. Ensure that you’re consuming adequate protein and fat, then fill your remaining calories with carbs.
(1 gram is 9 calories)
My regular sources: Meat, dairy, eggs, and nuts.
How much should you eat?: This varies from person to person; some people prefer a high-fat diet whilst some people (like myself) feel better on a low to moderate fat diet. The majority of people will do just fine consuming a moderate amount of dietary fat (20-30% of total daily calories).
A woman (let’s call her 'Liz') wants to lose weight for an upcoming holiday. She doesn’t care about macronutrients - she wants a quick fix, and the new juice “detox” diet she sees in Cosmo grabs her attention. Liz manages to stay on this diet for a whopping 2 whole weeks and loses 12 pounds. Great! - But let’s be clear, she didn’t just lose fat. Liz definitely lost some of her precious muscle (along with her sanity!) because as you know, she didn’t have sufficient protein or fat in her diet. When you lose muscle, your body “thinks” it’s starving to death, and this is extremely stressful. So Liz craves food like never before, binges on everything tasty (mostly carbs), and not only does she regain all the weight she just lost, she becomes even heavier. To make things worse, she now blames carbohydrates for her demise (and weight regain). But we know it was all down to her initial poor diet approach (juice “detox”) and subsequent calorie surplus (binging). Poor Liz.
Be it a juice "detox" or any other fad diet, I bet you know at least one person that went through the same thing as Liz. You may have even done it yourself. So the next time you see a 'Liz’ or even a ‘Les’ (no gender discrimination on my watch!) try and encourage them to consider dietary changes which are not so extreme, to ensure that they don't set themselves up for failure before they even start.
Now that you know the importance of macronutrients, you’re at the next stage of creating your very own successful and sustainable weight loss plan.
In the next blog, I'll explain how to establish a calorie amount to achieve your goal. Until then, follow me on Instagram to keep an eye out for future blogs, healthy recipes, exercise tips, and much, much more!
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me HERE and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.
(2) Afaghi A, O'Connor H, Chow CM. High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:426–30.