Nutrition: where to start for fat loss
Starting a new fitness and nutrition program can become very overwhelming, very fast. Change is hard, that's for sure. But, when we decide we want to change, we usually expect immediate results. Today's society has conditioned us to seek instant gratification and results, with constant over stimulation from notifications, emails, ads for new products and crazy promised results, the ease of ordering anything you need with a click of a button, etc. It's hard to not multi-task, do a million things at once, and try all the hottest trend diets, and suddenly become even more confused and further from the results you are really after.
Despite what you may think, humans are not programmed to be efficient multi-taskers. Focusing on too many things at once is very taxing on the brain and is actually counterproductive on performance. If you try to take on a strict diet, jump into a new fitness program, cut out your social life to stick to the plan, and continue to work 40 hours a week, and take care of the kids....you may find yourself struggling to 'stay on the train' after a few weeks.
The #1 reason people fail to achieve their body transformation goals is because they simply take on too many complicated things at once. Most hot diets on the market today are just too restrictive and unrealistic to maintain. If you're going from minimal care of what you eat and maybe lacking the knowledge on what you should be eating to suddenly cutting out carbs, and eating made up super foods, and juicing, and fasting, and all the crazy things that are 'guaranteed to make you lose weight', you're probably not going to stick with it for very long.
Rather than yo-yoing through all the extreme diets, starting with the basics is the ticket to success and overall long-term health. The average western diet and lifestyle leads to many common nutritional deficiencies. This is the place to start. By addressing your nutritional deficiencies, you will immediately feel better and will most likely see some results in the first few weeks without making drastic changes.
I know what you're thinking, 'blah blah, we know water is important, tell us something we don't know'. But, here's the thing, regardless of how many times people have heard the importance of water and maybe even think they're drinking enough, still it's estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This means that 3 in every 4 persons is functioning in a less than optimal state affecting the mind, body, and spirit.
The adult body is made up of about 60% water and every single system within the body depends on water. Even mild dehydration can affect our mood and ability to concentrate, can cause fatigue, constipation, muscle aches and cramping, as well as headaches.
Okay, we get it, water is important... how does this impact weight loss? The mind often confuses thirst for hunger, so dehydration can directly cause over eating. The more hydrated you are, you will not only feel better, but you will no longer receive false hunger cues, allowing you to stay on track with your nutrition plan.
Start by drinking half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water per day.
Eat Your Vegetables
The Majority of Americans are deficient in a few or more vitamins and minerals. This may seem very elementary, but seriously people, it pays to eat your veggies! I've worked with many clients who have claimed to eat multiple servings of vegetables a day, but on closer examination, only really ate a few servings per week. Take a close look at your daily and weekly food habits, how many servings of vegetables are you eating per day?
It's recommended that Men intake about 6 fist sized servings of vegetables per day minimum and Women, 3-4 fist sized servings.
If you aren't meeting these requirements, it's time to step it up. A lot of vitamin and mineral deficiencies can easily be reversed by upping your fruits and veggies- things like berries and green veggies are loaded with nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with fiber, which will keep you fuller longer, helping you to control your hunger levels and reach your fat loss goals with more ease.
If you're a picky eater or have gone a long time without your greens, you may consider adding a multi-vitamin to your daily routine.
Up Your Protein Intake
Protein is another important variable to focus on increasing for fat loss. Because the average western diet is high in processed junk, sugar, carbohydrates, and fats, protein is often under consumed. Protein deficiencies can cause fatigue as well as a sluggish metabolism. Gone unchecked, the body will start to break down it's own muscle to utilize amino acids to carry out all of the important processes at the cellular level. You don't want this to happen!
It's recommended that Men intake 1-2 palm sized portions of protein rich foods at every meal and Women consume 1 palm sized portion.
The good news is, much like high fiber fruits and vegetables, high protein foods, such as lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish, will also keep you fuller longer to prevent over eating.
More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids provide a host of benefits to the body, however, most American diets are severely lacking. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning the body can't produce them on it's own, so you must consume them in order to maintain optimal wellness. Both Omega-3's and omega-6's are important to function properly and prevent disease, however omega-6's are much more abundant in the typical American diet, so much so that it's normal to see a 20:1 ration of omega 6's to omega 3's. To keep inflammation low, the body needs a 1:1 ratio, so upping your 3's will go a long way to your overall health and ultimately fat loss.
Consuming more foods rich in Omega-3's, such as fatty fishes, like salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, will provide a range of benefits from increased mood and focus, weight loss, reduce symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, and prevent heart disease.
If you don't regularly (daily) consume the above foods, consider taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement to ensure you are functioning at your best.
Many of these simple key factors get overlooked when starting a new nutrition program for fat loss. Start with the basics of hydration, vegetables, protein, and omega-3's before taking on anything else, like rigorous exercise and strict diets. You'll feel better immediately, allowing for more energy to do all the badass things you love to do, and you'll start to lose fat by making sure your body has the things it needs to become a burning machine.