This article is not for the female competitor or for someone who is trying to drop a lot of weight as fast as possible for a bikini shoot. It is for women who are trying to obtain good health with a sustainable diet that will help them lose body fat at a healthy rate, while maintaining their muscle mass.
Ladies, let’s face it. Our minds are just as complicated as our bodies. We have all this information everywhere telling us to do this diet and that diet, eat this food and not that, and drink this shake and not that. After reading all of it, I don’t blame you for throwing all that information in the trash and grabbing a pack of Oreo’s.
A lot of times when we don’t manage to take action, the culprit is usually a lack of clarity and not laziness. Us women are fantastic complicators. Yes, I know that isn’t a real word, but it should be because that is what we do. So as a hormonal female comrade, let me filter out some of the Spam for you (don’t eat Spam):
1.You have to eat clean!
What exactly is eating clean?
Ask 5 different people what eating clean means to them and you would probably get 5 different answers. Everyone has his or her idea of what eating clean is and the variety in opinion can be as different as night and day. Find what food practices concern you and eliminate them from your diet. Then find food practices that you believe in and work for your body and integrate that into your diet.
If you don’t care about long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, but think that they are your personal solution to cutting out sugar, go for it. If you don’t believe in low fat products and rather have full cream milk, go for it. If the term organic doesn’t mean anything to you, buy regular vegetables and meat. If you believe a little sea salt doesn’t hurt, sprinkle away.
Eating clean is based on your own personal dietary beliefs and choices. They are practices that help sustain a balanced diet and lifestyle for you. Hopefully, these practices compliment each other to provide the effective results for your body. For example, if you have a high fat tendency, a low carbohydrate practice compliments better than a high carbohydrate practice. That would be aesthetic suicide!
2. You must eat from local organic farms!
No, you don’t. Of course we all know that organic foods tend to be a better product, due to factors that we won’t get into in this article. However, it just isn’t attainable for everyone.
Food that is locally grown does have more nutrients than produce that is transported and plucked weeks before. But if you’re not living in an area that can grow produce all year round, then what are you to do?
Don’t give up all nutrition practices and reach for the frozen pizza simply because you cannot get locally grown organic produce or meat. Whether it’s the cost or availability that makes it difficult, any meat and vegetable is better than none. Do what your lifestyle can manage.
3. You have to count calories!
Counting calories is an inefficient method of dieting after considering all the contributing factors to its inaccuracy such as, personal rates of absorption, inaccurate nutrient databases, amount of physical activity, etc.
I have personally had certain clients track calories, but I don’t believe tracking calories daily is a practice that is sustainable for healthy dieting, nor is it effective. My reason for having them track calories is to build their awareness of what they are putting in their bodies, and it also helps give me a gauge of where they are at with their daily intake for me to begin making adjustments.
Most of my clients have little to no nutritional education and think that they are eating healthy but gained weight due to a sedentary lifestyle only. After having them journal their intake for a week, their opinion usually changes and it doesn’t take much convincing from me to show that their nutritional practices need some tweaking. Calorie counting is a good guide, but unless you’re competing, there’s no place for it in regular health and fitness.
When you get a basic understanding of which macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) are found in certain foods, portion control becomes a much simpler way to tackle your diet.
4. I have to eat as little as possible.
Time and time again, I hear women talk about how proud they are of already cutting meals left and right out of their diet. I have seen women spend lots of time on a Calorie tracking app, making sure they stay under 800 Calories for the day. This is disastrous for your body!
Yes, weight gain does sometimes come from an excess of Calories, but cutting meals and starving yourself is probably not going to get you very far in this “diet plan”. Three reasons why this won’t work to your advantage:
1) You will probably be missing out on many more nutrients than you probably already are.
2) A calorie deficit that is too large will cause more harm to your metabolism in the long run.
3) Deprivation will usually lead to rebounding from your diet, resulting in lost efforts or more weight gain.
Before cutting out meals, think about what your meals consist of. Does the larger part of the meal consist of fats and carbs, with a smaller portion being protein? If so, this is a recipe for gaining body fat and losing lean mass. Double Whammy!
Instead of cutting a meal out, you could easily switch the proportions around to moderate protein with a higher carb, lower fat combination or a higher fat (the good kind), lower carb combination.
You can also decrease calories by replacing high caloric density foods for low caloric density foods. For example, trading French fries (high caloric density) for stir-fried vegetables (low caloric density).
Figuring out what works best for your body takes time and practice, so be patient with the process.
5. Carbs are the Devil!
Excess carbs can play a big part in body fat storage, but not all of them are evil. Try to stick to natural carbs and stay away from refined carbs to be on the safer side diet-wise.
Refined carbs have ingredients that are already broken down so much before consumption that it doesn’t leave our digestive system much work. This means that our body doesn’t have to spend much time working hard to get the energy from the carbs we ate. This leads to surges in our blood sugar and insulin, which can in turn store body fat and switch off our fat burning hormones.
Natural carbs tend to hold more fiber and complexity, requiring our digestive systems to take more time to break down the sugars. This provides us with energy levels that are more stable throughout the day and many health benefits that come with higher fiber intake. To use your carbohydrates more efficiently, you can also try to time them around your workouts or carb cycling!
6. Eating more protein will make me manly.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this I wouldn’t be taking the bus to work! Ladies, your trainer probably isn’t putting you on mass gainer and protein is not a steroid. It isn’t going to make you She-Hulk!
Whether you get your protein from meat or vegetable sources, protein plays a vital role in nearly every metabolic activity. If you are going to maintain a calorie deficit for fat loss, protein is the one macronutrient that you do not want to skimp on! The general rule is to consume 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass (not your body weight) daily.
7. Fats make me fat!
Anyone with a calorie surplus will begin to store body fat, no matter which macronutrient it’s from. Fats are calorie dense, so you have to be more aware of the amounts you eat. 1 gram of fat has more than double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate, but this doesn’t mean that you should avoid fats all together.
We have all heard of good fats; the different cooking oils, chia and flax seeds, avocados, etc. However, I’ve seen people take this the wrong way and filling their daily intake with loads of good fats and then wonder why they are gaining weight.
Just because they are good fats, does not mean that they are no longer calorie dense! Be more aware of portion sizes because unless you are on a ketogenic diet, your main source of calories should not be from fat.
Understand that achieving certain aesthetic goals will take certain lifestyle sacrifices. If you aren’t willing to make those sacrifices, then you cannot place those expectations on yourself. Finding that perfect body fat percentage and lifestyle balance takes time and experimentation. It also changes through different phases of your life. So try to be aware of how you are feeling emotionally and mentally during your fitness journey.
Now that I have sorted out some of these misconceptions of dieting, I hope you are now ready to set achievable expectations for your fat loss plans. A goal of mine as a lifestyle coach is never to implement what I believe is the best diet in the world, but to find what suits your current lifestyle, giving you the best possible chance to succeed nutritionally.
I’ve created a simple PDF that explains a 3 step process to reading food labels to decide if a food is worth purchasing or consuming. Just click here to get the download.
Author: Cari Li