I’m one of our resident Exercise Physiologists, and also an accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer and Level 1 Weightlifting Instructor. Outside of the gym, I tend to go in search of good food and great coffee. And yes, Dan’s Shoulder Stretch is mine.
Master these five simple things. That’s all it takes to get 95% of the results. I’m serious…
1. Calories are King.
There is NO WAY OF ESCAPING THIS. It’s the physical law of thermodynamics.
Every successful marketed diet, clean eating plan, flexible dieting strategy and even the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) approach all work via a reduction in calories.
Yep, even a McDonald’s diet (or the “Special K” challenge) can create weight loss if the calories are taken into account.
Being possible, however, does not mean OPTIMAL.
Do you need to count calories to lose weight? No. Do you need to mindfully start to swap out heavily processed, high calorie foods for natural, lower calorie foods (swapping Doritos for vegetables, or beers for water)? Yes.
[Following this theory alone can usually get people down to between 15-18% body fat without much thinking. That’s when abs just start to become visible.]
2. Bad Food Choices Negatively Affect the Body.
While you can lose weight eating small amounts of total and utter crap, you will not concomitantly improve your health (blood profile, inflammation markers, recovery from training, sleep quality, bloating…).
Yes, calories are king. But the QUALITY of your food also has a huge effect on the efficiency of the body and its performance.
This is important to note – Making a poor food choice happens. If that means you ate a muffin instead of lunch (presuming they’re the same calories), it’s not the healthiest option, but it won’t jeopardise your body composition.
However, if you ate a muffin and then said f*** it and went home and demolished a family pizza because your diet was ruined anyway, that’s a WHOLE different story.
[A whole pizza is roughly 1-1.5 DAYS worth of food. Just sayin’…]
3. You Will Eat Vegetables.
If you want to lose weight, improve health markers and do it the simplest way possible, then include 1-2 fist-sized portions of vegetables with every meal you eat.
If you don’t like vegetables, then it’s time to grow up and stop acting like a 5-year old. Find 5 vegetables that you DO like and use them regularly. There are thousands of vegetable varieties out there. Potatoes are fine in moderation. Just don’t fry them, salt them and demolish them like the American FDA recommends.
4. Find a Diet You Like, Because Consistency is Everything.
If you like what you eat, then you’re more likely to stick to it. [It’s how we wound up in this mess anyway.]
Take note of your favourite healthy recipes and use them regularly. Prepare more than you need so you have leftovers of that healthy and appetizing food.
A bad meal here and there will happen – it’s part of being social for most people. Take it in your stride and move on.
To make meaningful change (lean and healthy), it takes being consistent about 80% of the time.
To make very meaningful change (visible abs), increase that to 90%.
If you want to be lean enough to grate cheese on your belly, junk food and alcohol are non-existent. It’s near 100% commitment.
5. Protein Will Maximise Body Composition.
There’s something about the way protein is digested and metabolized that sets it apart from carbs and fat.
Even though (in theory) protein has the same amount of calories as carbohydrates, it takes a lot more energy to break it down and digest it.
It increases satiety, keeping you from bouncing off the walls with “hangriness”. It drives muscle protein synthesis (fancy speak for giving muscles the signal to grow) and, provided you primarily use whole sources from different animals, supplies plenty of vitamins and minerals.
[There are a lot of claims that “a calorie is not a calorie” out there. I suspect, though the research is not by any means conclusive yet, that the physical work the body has to do to break down proteins uses up a portion of the energy that the protein provides in the first place. It essentially stokes the metabolic fire. Is there a reason why after a big steak we get “meat sweats”? Just a theory.]
Get a MINIMUM of a palm-sized portion of protein (more for white meats/fish) at EVERY meal. Make protein and vegetables the priority of each meal.