This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Make sure you read part 1 if you missed it before reading onward.
By the way, next week we’re releasing a women’s only program with a full year’s worth of training, complete dietary guides, and a whole section on mindset and motivation. Update: HOTBOD is live.
Nutrition for fat loss, and muscle gain is complicating, especially so when there are a ton of opinions on low carb, fad diets, and even the fallacy that you can spot reduce certain areas of your body with exercise.
Without going into the nitty gritty of exactly how much protein (update:How much protein do I need?), carbs, or fats to consume, I want to touch on a few things that have come up over and over again in my experience with clients, coaching groups and readers.
1. going too low carb, or low fat and slashing calories immediately
This is a major problem and happens all the time. When someone decides to change their diet and focus on getting in better shape, it’s easy to pick the latest fad diet promising you’ll lose 7 pounds in a week.
And while that’s possible to do when you cut out all carbs, dairy, and meat products, it’s hardly sustainable and will likely leave you feeling horrible after your first few days on the program.
And we all know what happens after that… the rebound is heavy and full of the foods you crave.
Instead of jumping to extremes right off the bat, I like to set a standard baseline for intake, and that usually means getting enough protein, carbohydrates and fat to keep you full and energized. After that’s been established, we create the deficit by removing some fat and carbohydrates from your baseline intake.
The problem with this is the initial period might last 2-3 weeks, and you might not make much, if any progress with your fat loss goals. But these few weeks are nothing but a small blip in the radar when we look at a longer timeline of steady progress.
Wouldn’t you rather take your time in the beginning, set a standard for yourself, and then be steady and consistent without any rebounds or needlessly missing days or entire weeks due to hunger and poor meal planning?
2. not allowing enough time for progress to happen
Most of us view ideal timelines based on unrealistic expectations, and impatience. You see a drastic transformation on Instagram, and you automatically believe you deserve the identical outcome.
So-and-so got ripped in 12 weeks, so why can’t you? On paper, you might have the best routine and diet plan in existence, but your body, and your environment may dictate a much slower transformation.
I had a client lose only 10 pounds, going from 158 to 148 in 8 months! If you were to see her before and after photos, you’d not deny the amazing progress. But if you were to look only at her scale weight, you might get real discouraged real fast.
However, this is the truth and reality for most. Most people don’t have the ideal situation where they have little to no life stress, can train 6 times per week, and sleep 10 hours per night.
Sometimes we need to get away from the outcome-based goals, ie: losing 12 pounds in 12 weeks. Alternatively, we might consider moving closer to the process-focused goals of doing the required work on a daily basis, no matter what, and letting go of arbitrary deadlines.
When you don’t allow enough time for progress to happen, it’s easy to mess with all the variables that will ultimately lead to your best body yet, but only if they’re left unchanged.
Your body is in a constant flux of breaking down, and building back up. Nutrition is super important for facilitating this process, and making sure it has the necessary nutrients to create the changes you want.
Slow progress in fat loss, and recomposition is way better than rapid progress that leaves you famished, hungry, and prone to losing your control causing you to overeat your way back to your starting point. When you’re eating enough to stay satisfied, and get results, you’re more likely to stick with the plan and end up at your desired goal.
It might take longer, but it’s worth it.
3. changing too much at once
To tie in to the previous 2 points, changing too much at once is what I see more people doing than anything else. If after 2-3 weeks, you’re not noticing much change in the mirror, measurements, or scale weight, you don’t have the liberty to jump ship on your current training program. And you don’t need to go from your energy-inducing high(er) carb plan (my favorite) to a strict Paleo variation.
I’ve had trainees see virtually no progress on scale weight for weeks and sometimes months, but notice visual changes in the mirror, and a reduction in waist measurements. A knee-jerk reaction is to make drastic changes to your intake to force a rapid reduction in scale weight, or water retention, but the pendulum always swings back the other way — beware of this.
My rule of thumb is as follows: If you’ve stuck to your diet, training, sleep habits for 3 weeks straight, and are seeing no progress in the mirror, scale weight, and measurements, then it’s time to make a change.
And even then, we only change one variable. We may add some exercise, change the diet, or attempt to reduce some stress, if possible. But we never change more than one at a time, and always give it enough time for the results to manifest.
I understand many of us struggle with one, if not all of these issues when it comes to making progress for the long term. Next week, I’ll be releasing a women’s only program with a full year’s worth of training, complete dietary guides, and a whole section on mindset and motivation.
Update: HOTBOD is live.