With the New Year in full swing many are back in the gym and back on their “better” eating habits to reduce body fat and look good naked (let’s be honest, Spring break isn’t that far off). With the overwhelming amount of information at your finger tips it pays to keep things simple. The fewer the rules you have to follow the easier it is to make progress. By focusing on 1 improvement over the next 30 days, it would be very realistic and productive to reach your goals. Below I’ve listed 3
MEAL FREQUENCY & PORTION SIZES
3 meals? 6 meals? It doesn’t matter. Most peer-reviewed studies have shown that frequency of meals has no affect on one’s ability to reduce fat and build muscle. Yes, spread loading your food intake is ideal (i.e. don’t consume all of your food in 1 sitting). What matters is your level of hunger.
If you get hungry every 3 hours then eat every 3 hours. If you prefer 2-3 large meals then have those large meals. In addition, don’t concern yourself with the time of day. If you can’t eat dinner until 9pm then eat dinner at 9pm. The time of your meals only matters to body builders and fitness competitors. Meal timing is not nearly as important for the every day Joe or Jane. Sure, you may try meal timing for consistency but don’t beat yourself up about it.
To keep things simple we’ll start off with the basic “healthy” plate:
- 1/3 (30-35%) protein (meat, fish, poultry)
- 1/3 (30-35%) fat (nuts, seeds, oils)
- 1/3 (30-35%) carbohydrate (fruits, grains, beans)
**Fibrous vegetables are very low in carbohydrates and calories so they don’t count against you for your total. EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT**
The above example is what you would follow if you were satisfied with your body composition, such as the amount of muscle you have and fat percentage. However, if you want to change your current composition then here are the simple “rules”:
- Decrease Body Fat %
- 1/3 (30-35%) Protein
- 1/2 (45-50%) Fat
- 1/5 (15-20%) Carbohydrates
- Gain Lean Muscle
- 1/3 (30-35%) Protein
- 1/5 (15-20%) Fat
- 1/2 (45-50%) Carbohydrates
As a reminder, it is very difficult to add muscle mass while decreasing body fat. That’s not to say you can’t do both at the same time, especially if you have plenty of excess body fat and rarely train. If you already train heavily but are looking to decrease body fat then expect a modest drop in your strength levels if you follow a diet low in carbohydrates. Don’t worry. Your strength will come back faster than you think.
Counting is a very common. People count calories, steps, macros, and more. It doesn’t matter what you count as long as you’re counting. I used to have a fitbit and simply by looking at it I made myself get up and walk around more. Counting is immediate and self-rewarding (at least in the case of counting steps). Counting is objective, simple, and keeps you accountable to your goals. But, what should YOU count?
The easiest among these is steps. Almost all phones today have a “health” app included that can count your steps you take throughout the day. A solid goal is 10,000 steps (or the equivalent of 3 miles). 3 miles may not seem very far but it would take most people just under 1 hour to complete. Aside from achieving your step count for the day, walking 3 miles is very therapeutic mentally. You don’t have to focus. Just walk and breathe.
The next thing to count would be your calories & macros (protein, fat, carbs). MyFitnessPal is the most commonly used app to track food intake. If you eat the same foods at most of your meals then it will be much easier to track this information. However, if you eat different foods each day then it will be a little time consuming. The good news is that you can save your favorite dishes/snacks for quick reference. I suggest recording 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day. You’ll see a glaring difference between the consistency during the week and how quickly things change on the weekend. I recommend recording Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.
The last thing to count would be your workout volume. This isn’t very hard to track if you follow a training program versus randomized workouts. Workout volume refers to the total amount of work in your training. For example, if you were tracking your bench press you would take the total reps (sets x reps) and multiply it by the weight you used.
- Example 1: 3 sets x 10 reps/set x 185 lbs = 5,500 lbs of work
You could do this for all of your exercises to see if your work volume increases each training session. In order to stimulate more change you have to progressively, and incrementally, increase the total volume of work. In the case of the bench press example, you could increase the weight to 190 lbs and perform the same number of sets and reps:
- Example 2: 3 sets x 10 reps/set x 190 lbs = 5,700 lbs of work
See? Adding a small amount added up to 200lbs of more work for your bench. Record your info (data doesn’t lie!). Finally, you will go through “de-loading” periods to help your body recovery and grow stronger. Remember, training isn’t linear; it’s peaks and valleys.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS