Today’s guest post comes from strength coach, Eric Bach.
Lets kicks things off with the hard truth:
Fat loss diets suck.
You’re literally flipping off your bodies cravings. Plus, there’s that whole extraordinary willpower, dedication, and responsibility thing needed to to be successful.
Well, I’m here to make things a bit easier for you.
I’m here to simplify the process and give you the tools to become more aware.
In return, better awareness will help you throw that last piece of pizza at your roommate instead of down your throat. You’ll be able to turn down your patented Vodka Red-Bull, and make some meaningful progress towards fat loss without hating life.
Yes, there will be sacrifices, but all great things require you to make the tough choices.
Let’s dig into six habits that have helped my clients collectively lose 1,000’s of pounds and keep it off.
1) Start Cooking
But so is neglecting your health for a gluttonous barrage of refined sugars, dyes, trans-fats, and hidden calorie bombs at restaurants.
Make the sacrifice of convenience and learn to cook. Take this weekend and find your local farmers market here, prepare double portions, and seal them away in Tupperware for future convenient meals.
Plus, mastering 3-5 awesome meals should be a perquisite to your adulthood and getting laid.
Bottom Line: Learn to cook. You’ll make healthier choices, save cash, and impress your next date.
Check out these awesome resources for recipes and quick tips on cooking:
2) Trade Starches For Greens Early in Your Day
That’s what I figured, my hand is down too.
Rarely does anyone get enough vegetables into their diet. Thus,the first step is replacing starches like grains, rice, potatoes etc. with vegetables during the first few meals of the day. This strategy works whether you’re follows an intermittent fasting approach, eats 6 meals per day, or following IIFYM approach.
My reasoning is this:
First, taking most starchy carbohydrate sources out during the early day keeps calories lower. Plus, most of us tend to overeat at night as a way of relaxing and socializing. Keeping carbs lower during the day minimizes the damage without crushing your lifestyle to the point you quit a diet.
Second, keeping carbohydrate intake lower during most of the day will improve insulin sensitivity over time. Better insulin sensitivity leads to better nutrient partitioning, helping you look better naked. Nuff’ said.
Third, overall health and digestion will improve. If you’re body isn’t healthy, it’s not going to function optimally whether you’re chasing a new PR, six-pack, or a scholarship.
This doesn’t need to be indefinite, but try it for a week. Either continue on the same plan or add some starches back in as needed to support training, while keeping your greens constant.
3) Try Fasting (On Occasion)
That said, I’ve found great results with periodic bouts of fasting to stimulate fat loss. Without going into the depths of science, intermittent fasting requires taking periods of 12-16+ hour periods without eating or drinking calories. Then, use the remaining hours of the day as feeding window.
The reasoning is simple:
If you eat less often, it’s tougher to overshoot your baseline calorie goals, making it more practical to stay under maintenance calories for fat loss.
But that’s not it.
I find the best part of intermittent fasting to be the awareness you gain.
Are you craving food or physiologically starving?
With fasting, you’ll dial into true hunger signals for better self-awareness, restrict your calories to hammer fat loss, and improve digestive health by giving your gut a rest from constant feedings.
Fasting forces you to be disciplined and more in-tune with your true hunger signals, instead of just cravings.
If you haven’t given fasting a try, start by taking 12 hours between your dinner on one night and your first meal on the following night. Only drink water, tea, and coffee between. No, your #gainz won’t disappear, but you’ll gain better control of your bodies true hunger signals.
4) Carb Cycling
Picture This: It’s early fall and Saturday, about noon. College football season has arrived. You’re at your local alumni sports bar with your buddies. Everyone’s ordering, microbrews, nachos, chicken wings, and fries. Food galore, a gluttonous paradise if you will.
The waitress makes her way to you, what do you do?
Carb cycling takes care of the question for you. Eat based on your activity levels for the day.
Carb cycling is as easy as it sounds: Eat more pizza carbohydrates on weight training days (high carb), and keep carbohydrates lower on off/conditioning only training days.
Why High Carb Days Work: Due to the repeated muscle contractions of resistance training your body will have an increased insulin sensitivity. With this increased response to carbs your body will drive nutrients into your muscle cells, aiding them in repair, growing them, and providing you with more energy.
Why Low Carb Days Work: On the non-lifting days you keep carbohydrates low because there isn’t the same increase in insulin sensitivity. Without carbs flowing through the bloodstream the body is forced to burn stored fuel, or body fat. By minimizing carbs a few days per week the body becomes more receptive to insulin, so when you do indulge on the sugary goodness your anabolic response is maximized.
5) Track Calories
Tracking calories is far from an exact science. Foods are mislabeled, food quality alters the vitamin and mineral content, and tracking is be a huge pain in the ass.
That said, it’s still good for one big reason: Self-awareness.
The biggest benefit to tracking calories is the awareness of your current intake, where you have nutritional gaps, and whether you’re near your caloric goals.
I don’t track calories ad-nasueam and neither do my clients. Instead, we have periodic check-ins a few times per month to see whether their actually getting close to where their numbers are.
If you’re already tracking calories, awesome for you. You’re more disciplined in that realm than I am.
If not? Then start. It doesn’t need to be every day, but for the first week of your diet and twice per week after you start make counting calories a priority.
6) Focus On Just One Thing
And you know what?
It fails, every single time.
Picking any of the five habits above will make a big difference in your dieting success, but picking them all is a sure way to fail.
Pick one. Just one. And do it daily. For two whole weeks, until it becomes automatic, and then build on it. The change might seem small now, but small victories lead to big changes. After all, one pound of fat-loss per week seems small, but on a macro-scale 52 pounds of fat loss in a year is incredible.
You Know What to Do. Now do it.
Like any goal, there is more than one path to your final destination.
In regards to fat-loss, the main tenants will always be the same:
A caloric deficit, healthy food options to optimize your body functions, and consistently kicking ass in the gym.
Plateaus are bound to happen, but that’s why we’re here to kick them down.
Pick a habit above and hammer it for the next few weeks. If that’s working, great keep it up and add something else. Long-term dieting is about making change manageable and part of your life. Choose wisely, stay disciplined, and reap the rewards of your labor.
About the Author:
Check out Eric’s free ebook to build athletic muscle and dominate the front squat on his blog. Eric Bach, CSCS, is a Strength Coach Denver, Colorado where he helps Pros improve their game and Joes look better naked with high performance coaching. He loves Wisconsin Football, #gainz, and mixing his creatine with espresso.