Today we’re going to address a few questions I’ve gotten recently about weight loss and body composition. Some of you are on a journey to shed some pounds, while others have hit their ideal weight and want to add muscle. Read on to learn the steps you can take towards:
- Losing fat without strict diets
- Building muscle after you have reached your ideal weight
Question 1: “What can I do to lose a few pounds this week (and keep them off)?”
If you’ve worked with me, you know it’s all about a caloric deficit. Easier said than done. So this week, make it happen with a few simple steps.
1. List foods you have to remove, almost completely
No, I don’t mean cutting out ALL carbs… or any other extreme diet for that matter. I’m referring to the obvious. The things you know are bad for you but you keep eating anyway – soda, candy, the entire sleeve of cookies. This alone will likely give you results, especially if you’re a serial (or cereal) offender.
Then find the time of day you eat these foods. Ask yourself if you’re actually hungry, or if it’s a habit? If it’s a habit then it’s time to intervene. Change those habits with triggers – every time I want to eat a Snickers I go for a walk. Or when I get home from work, I know I sit on the couch and snack on chips. Instead, find other crunchy, healthier options (veggies portioned out nuts, etc.) These are just options, but it’s up to you to find a replacement you can live with.
2. List foods you won’t give up because they make your life better
Any changes you make have to be realistic. To be honest, no dietary change is worth sacrificing your mental health. You’ll eventually hit a wall of misery and dive face-first into a vat of ice cream. Some things just make life fulfilling, and that’s okay! Maybe it’s beer or your morning coffee. Maybe you can’t imagine going without your 12 oz ribeye. You don’t have to remove them forever.
But remember – there’s a difference between an occasional beer and three every night. I don’t have to tell you that moderation is key. You just have to do it.
3. List foods that will be easy to give up
We’re talking about the bad ones, not giving up broccoli because you don’t like it (although there are plenty of other vegetables if you don’t).
I hate using the word “bad” with food. It always depends on frequency and amount, plus everyone is different. No single food is inherently bad for everyone in small doses. Maybe your friend can eat gluten but you can’t. Maybe you love peanuts but your coworker can’t even be in the same room as them.
Regardless, some foods are full of empty calories. The ones you don’t like, or at least crave, will be easier for you to give up than others. List those here.
4. List foods you enjoy that are good for you
Despite the excuses we tell ourselves, there are healthy foods you enjoy. If parents can find ways to sneak vegetables into their kids’ diets, you can find healthy food you like. Look for fiber, water, and protein as the ideal. Go out and purchase these foods first and foremost, and take them with you everywhere. Meal prepping is one thing, but there are plenty of quick, healthy snack options to toss in your bag in a hurry.
Bonus points – Go to bed and get some sleep
It will make your life better! We’re more likely to snack on fatty, sugary foods when we’re tired. Plus, if you’re sleeping, you’re not eating. It might be as simple as readjusting your routine this week. Take a bath to calm yourself down instead of binging Netflix and eating popcorn. Read your kids a bedtime story, and then practice some mindful breathing. You’ve heard it all before. Hopefully, by making the above lists, however, you can put this plan into action tonight.
Question #2: What do I do if I have reached my goal weight and want to gain muscle?
Gaining muscle is a slower, more complicated process than weight loss. Neither is easy, but you can’t put on significant muscle overnight. It takes a bit more than just cutting calories. However, there are a few simple ways to put yourself on the right track.
1.Take pictures to track progress
The scale is notoriously deceiving for body composition. For example, at 6’5, the Rock weighs around 260 lbs, which makes him technically obese (according to BMI). Plenty of people with the same height and weight look drastically different than that guy. So pictures are really important. You’ll need to visually track progress over time to see if your efforts are paying off.
2. Respect the process
Increasing muscle will be a slow process, so have patience with it. The most important factors will be getting stronger on lifts. In some cases, you’ll need to add more volume to exercises. After all, building muscle requires hard work in the gym. On top of the pyramid lies calories. If you eat a ton of calories without hitting the weights hard, you’ll gain weight, but probably not the kind you want. Fuel up for your workouts, and refuel your body afterward. Over time, you’ll notice a difference in your mirror selfies.
3. Identify your target calories, then macros, and focus on protein
Like I said, gaining muscle takes a bit more nutritional strategy. The main thing is to hit your target protein consistently, which ultimately comes down to your total caloric intake. Carbs and protein each have 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram. I typically have someone eat their bodyweight x 13-14 if they are trying to maintain weight and recomp (add muscle with no fat gain).
The main thing to focus on before changing everything else? Hit the protein number consistently. Let’s say you have days where you are 60g under. 60g x 4 (calories per gram) = 240 calories less than your target, which means you will lose weight. That’s not the goal!
To make matters worse, a reduction in protein deters muscle growth. BCAAs and other amino acids trigger protein synthesis, meaning they build muscle. You need this vital nutrient to restructure your current physique, so get it!
Looking to get started? Or start back up? – Hit reply or call/text 757-589-7028 to take advantage of a free trial week! Set up a 5-minute call to learn all the details, or use a free one on one consultation before making a decision. There are plenty of gyms saying “Hey, pay me!”…and then offering no support. A coaching program is different. It’s more than a gym.
Let’s set up a quick phone call, so I can be upfront with the cost and details of the program. I need to know about you before I can help you find the right service. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!
Detric Smith, CSCS, ACSM EP-C, Precision Nutrition Level 1