When it comes to losing fat, diet is the most critical aspect to consider. You can do as much training as you like, but if you’re eating tons of junk, your excess fat won’t be going anywhere.
A fat loss diet doesn’t have to be overly complicated though. There’s no need to eat 10 meals a day, restrict any food groups entirely, or have to live off pills and powders. There are, however, a few key points you need to address before you can start making progress.
Fat Loss Calories
Calories are by far the most important consideration in losing fat. A calorie is a unit of energy. To put it simply, if you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll put on weight, and if you eat fewer than you burn, you’ll lose weight.
Aim to get 40% of your calories from protein, 40% from carbs, and the remaining 20% from fats.
To work out how many calories you should consume, multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 12. This is the number of calories you should aim to consume each day. This may need adjusting as time goes on, so weight yourself once per week to see how you’re progressing. If you’re happy with progress, then keep it as it is. If you’re not losing fat, then reduce it by 100 calories per day, and if you’re losing muscle mass, or feeling weak and lethargic, add 100 calories per day.
Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. To perform optimally, you need all three in your diet. To begin with, aim to get 40% of your calories from protein, 40% from carbs, and the remaining 20% from fats.
As with calories, this can be changed if you feel that you respond better to a different type of macronutrient split. Some people do better with higher amounts of carbs, so a 60/30/10 split in favor of carbs/protein/fat, may work better, likewise others are more suited to lower carb diets, so a 20/40/40 carb/protein/fat diet can also work.
In theory, provided you’re eating the correct number of calories, and hitting your macronutrient goals, you should lose fat. However, you should also think about the quality of the foods you’re eating. Foods high in sugars, trans fats, and artificial ingredients can make you feel bloated and hungry and impede fat loss. Try to stick to foods from the following list:
Carbs – Green vegetables, root vegetables, fresh fruit, beans and legumes, whole grains such as brown rice, oats and wholemeal bread.
Proteins – Red meat, white meat, oily and non-oily fish, low fat dairy products – cottage cheese, milk, quark, Greek yogurt, etc., and protein supplements.
Fats – Nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, full fat dairy products, red meat and oily fish.
Many dietitians and health magazines advise you to eat small meals every two to three hours, to help boost your metabolism. However, this is one of the biggest weight loss myths. Frequent eating does not boost your metabolism any more than eating two or three times per day does. Metabolic rate increases are purely dependent on calorie intake, so if you eat 2000 calories per day, you’ll get the same metabolism boost eating two 1000 calorie meals as you would eating five 400 ones.
You should eat your meals according to what suits your schedule.
Final Fat Loss Meal Planning Pointers
- Keep a food diary.
- Allow yourself one cheat meal per week, where you eat the foods you crave.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon – just carry on with the diet as planned.
- If you’re making progress, don’t change anything.
- If progress plateaus, try manipulating your calorie intake or macronutrients slightly, or add in a little more training.