This is something that comes up a lot with my clients. First of all, there’s an issue of I can’t eat or else I’m going to gain weight. So I hear this a lot, this fear of gaining weight if I eat more. I can tell you that at least a couple times a week I hear from someone, Well, if I eat a slice of pizza, it takes me a week to lose that weight or Oh, I’m following a very specific diet. But if I eat anything out of that diet, it wreaks havoc with my scale and all these things.
Actually, what they’re telling me is you are eating at some sort of restriction and if you’re not losing weight, it simply means that even though you feel restricted, you’re still consuming more calories than your body needs to lose weight.
So the first thing that we need to do is take a step back and work on how can we eat more food for less calories. One thing that happens all the time is that people will restrict heavily from Monday through Friday. So, it’s Monday. I’m going to start this first day of the week, I’m pumped and I’m going to get ‘er done. And then you just eat salad, maybe some grilled chicken, maybe some fruit, and that’s it. And you’re really good. You do that on Monday. You do that on Tuesday. On Wednesday, you’re starting to lose a little bit of energy. You’re dragging. You can’t really work out. You’re feeling tired. Your brain isn’t completely there, but you’re motivated, you’ve done this for three days. You can get to the end of the week and on Thursday, maybe you sneak in a little something here or there and you’re thinking oh, but it’s just a little bit it’s slow paced, but you’re still firm on your playing chicken and no dressing on your salad. And it may sound like I’m exaggerating a little bit. Lots of people actually do this. And then Friday finally rolls around and you hold it together. Maybe you’re being an awful person. Maybe you are not being nice to people anymore. You’re getting grumpy. You are not sleeping well. Your your bowels aren’t feeling too happy. Your mood is off your. It’s been hard to focus at school or at work or whatever you’re doing, but you are committed. You are seeing this through because you’re going to lose weight this time and you’re going to stay out of deficit. Well, you did great Monday through Friday, and then Saturday comes and somebody calls you and they say, hey, let’s have some pizza. And you’re like, yeah, sure. I was great all week. And then they show up with pizza and you eat half of the pizza and why not just have some ice cream as well? I mean, I’ve been doing so well. And then Sunday comes and I don’t know, maybe there’s a brunch or maybe you decide to do pancakes in the morning and then everything that you did Monday to Friday was literally for nothing. You made yourself miserable. You were hungry most of the day. You made the people around you miserable because you were in a horrible mood. Now you really don’t like salad anymore than you did before, and you probably ate more calories than you needed for the week.
So this happens all the time, where we’re very “good” during the week and then the weekend comes and we just can’t keep it up. So the first thing you need to do is get an assessment of what your calorie needs actually are. And 90% of our listeners are women. So I’m going to tell you right now, you probably need more than 1200 calories a day. For the vast majority of women, 1200 calories is not enough food for you to lose weight healthily. So the first thing you need is to figure out your target calories. You need to figure out how much you need to eat to reach your goals. There are different ways to do that. We don’t have time in this podcast to get into that. We will have an episode on this. However, you need to figure out, okay, what’s your calorie target? My one suggestion is don’t use apps. There are some reliable calculators online. We will put them in the description section. Go to use one of these calculators. Don’t rely on apps. They tend to give you lower calories than you need.
So after you’ve determined what your calorie target is, the second thing that you need to do is figure out how much protein you want to aim for. Now, the reason for this is every single cell in your body uses protein all the time. Your body is 24 hours, seven days a week. Your body is breaking down and building up protein and you need a lot of it. So most people are actually eating less protein than they need. So you really want to try to hit that that protein target. The second reason is you want to want to eat protein because it helps you stay fuller longer. Eat enough protein. It helps you feel satiated.
So if you’re eating mostly fats or mostly carbs, which are very important, they’re very good for you, but if those are making the bulk of your diet and you’re not getting enough protein, and you’re going to feel hungrier, much easier. Now how much protein you need? Absolute bare minimum protein that you should consume is one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. So one kilogram is about 2.2 pounds. You’re going to have to do some math, and we’ll throw it online.
So first, you want to determine a calorie target. Second, your protein target by going up to two, two and a half grams of protein per kilogram per day. If you’re trying to lose fat, you need to know how much you have to eat. Is it possible to lose fat without counting calories? Yes. Yes, it is. And these tips that I’m going to share with you are one way to do it. But knowing your calories, that’s just a good thing. To learn and to hit that protein target is really going to help you. What you eat in terms of carbs and fat doesn’t make a difference. We have many, many, many studies to support that when calories are equated and when proteins match how you balance of carbs and fat, that’s just personal preference.
And lastly, you want to really choose foods that you like to eat. So if you hate lettuce, there are other green things that you can eat. You don’t have to eat lettuce. So don’t make yourself go after foods that are, quote unquote, supposed to be healthy or clean or better, eat things that are enjoyable to you. Now, that being said, that’s not super helpful. Great. You need your calories. Awesome. You need your protein. So what?
So I’m going to give you a few tips on practical things that you can do to actually lower your calorie count while eating volume of food. Now, this is super important when you’re in a fat loss phase because you want to feel satisfied. You want to literally fill your stomach with food. You just want it to be low calorie food.
An example that both Shannon and I use all the time with our clients is an apple and a slice of bread. A plain slice of bread. You’re not putting any honey. Butter spreads nothing. Just a slice of bread and a medium apple are roughly the same amount of calories. Now, when you eat those, first of all, you eat the bread much quicker. Secondly, the bread takes up a lot less space in your stomach than the apple. So calorie per calorie eating the apple is going to give you a lot more fullness and is going to stretch out your eating time. So you’re eating for a little longer and you’re eating a little slower than the slice of bread. Not to mention that the minute you put anything on top of your bread, depending on what you put on your bread, you’re looking at the equivalent of maybe two or three apples, actually, depending on how you doctor that slice of bread.
What we always want to try to do is increase the volume of food and at minimum keep the calories the same, at best we’re lowering the calorie count. Now, how can you do that?
One option is stop drinking your calories. It is so easy to consume massive amounts of calories with drinks. So switching to low calorie or sugar free drink alternatives, we can do a whole episode one day on sweeteners. Sweeteners are not going to kill you and sweeteners are not going to give you cancer. Okay. That’s all I’m going to say in this episode on that subject. So switching to low calorie sugar free drinks is really, really helpful. Helpful switching from sugar to sweetener in your coffee. If you put a lot of sugar in your coffee, if you have any soda or any sort of drink that you enjoy, if you can cut the sugar calories out of that, that’s really going to help you cut calories from your day to day.
Having one salad a day. This is a big one. Even if you decide to not count calories, which is completely doable. Highly recommended for many, many people choosing to have one salad for one of your meals. This is going to be massive for you. So instead of having the potatoes or the pasta or the rice in one of your meals every day, switch to a salad. Just do a nice big salad and have that be one of your meals every day.
Another thing is to have some water before you eat. So it’s a good practice to have a glass of water before you eat. Now, I’m not saying chug five glasses of water so that you fill your stomach with water and you don’t eat. No, that is an eating disorder. Just drinking a little bit of water. One glass of water before your meals also helps you stay hydrated.
Now, another thing is prepare more of your meals at home instead of eating out, even if you’re eating the same thing when you are preparing your meals at home. There is far few ingredients, not that lots of ingredients are an issue. But when you start doctoring your food, and the way restaurants make something so delicious is because the amount of things that they put in it. Now, a long ingredient list is great. It’s delicious, but you don’t need that every day. And of course, the less things that you’re putting in your food, the less calories you’re consuming. So eating out less is a big step for cutting down your calories. And when you think, for example, of fast food, maybe if you want to eat a burger and fries, if you do it at home, you could bake the fries, which are going to turn out delicious. And that’s a lot fewer calories than if you’re eating fried fries. You can get a burger that is not as full of fat. And you can also maybe buy a smaller bread or buy a bread that has more whole grains so that you get a little more fiber in and you help your digestion out. So the only thing about this is that there’s nothing wrong with eating out. It’s delicious. It’s wonderful. We love it. We do it. If most of your meals are prepared at home, you’re just controlling that intake a lot more.
Another tip is when you eat meats, just choose leaner cuts. I know lots of people, fun fact at Brazilian barbecues, lots of people eat steaks with this huge layer of fat on them. You really don’t need that. So if you’re trying to lose some weight, you know, don’t eat that layer of fat. So choosing leaner cuts of meat, that can be really, really helpful.
One thing that, again, it’s easier to track if you’re counting calories is your portions. But this is a tip that regardless if you want to track anything or not, try to double your plant consumption, especially vegetables.
So look at your day and see how many vegetables do you consume to eat more food for less calories. Try to double that and try to have your starch consumption, not fruit, your starch consumption. So think potatoes, think pasta. Think of rice. Think bread. Try to double how many vegetables and fruit you eat in a day and half how many starches you eat in a day.
Another one that is so, so, so important is that we live in the age of fast food. We live in the age of how quickly can I eat so that I can keep working? One thing to help you stay fuller longer and eat less is to stop rushing your meals. Stop eating like you’re in an eating competition. Sit down. Give yourself time to eat slowly. Put down your fork in between bites. Talk to people at the table input. So don’t talk with your mouth full. And then you’ll have to chew and swallow and talk to people and then take another bite. So really just eat mindfully. Take time to enjoy your meal and try to learn some of your body cues. Try to stop eating when you’re feeling satisfied, if you’re trying to lose weight. Try to stop eating a little before you’re satisfied. Like you feel, okay, I ate. I could still eat a little more, but I can stop. What would be like 80% for you to just stop eating compulsively until all of that food is gone? Until you’re feeling stuffed and you have to unbutton your jeans. Just slow down. Really slow down with your food. That also makes a big difference.
And finally, the last tip I want to leave with you is try to find lower calorie recipes of the foods that you love to make at home. These are abundant nowadays. It is so easy to find low calorie recipes of everything. We are not saying that you should obsess with calories and finding low calorie things. That’s not it.
However, weight management comes down to energy balance. If you want to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than your body is using. If you want to maintain weight, you need to eat as many calories as your body is using. And if you want to gain muscle mass or gain weight, you need to eat more calories than your body needs. That is not going to change regardless if you count calories, macros, containers, portions, hands, plates, however you do it. This is an absolute truth. It is going to happen in your body. This isn’t negotiable. It doesn’t matter if you like this or not. Energy balance rules your weight management.
So if you are trying to lose fat and you have some foods that you love, try to find an option that doesn’t have as many calories. Maybe you do a dip that needs cream cheese. So maybe you start using the lower fat cream cheese because it has a few less calories. Tastes are going to be the same. It’s still the same recipe. Can you lower the calories a little bit? Can you lower that the calories of these favorite recipes of some of your desserts? Use some substitutions, sometimes using sweetener or just find ways to lower this calorie count so that when you’re trying to lose fat, when you’re trying to lose weight, you’re not feeling hungry all the time and you’re still eating the things that you enjoy.
Yes, I love it. I recently made a spinach and artichoke dip and instead of the the full amount of cream cheese, I added plain Greek yogurt.
There you go. And it was it was great. I mean, you could tell the difference a little bit. But honestly, it was absolutely delicious. So I want to touch base a little bit on the protein. So, you know, if you have a sedentary person, you know, a minimum amount that they should be consuming. I mean, this is literally someone. Healthy individual, not doing much throughout the day except for just your daily functions. 0.8 kilograms per body weight is the minimum that a sedentary person should have. And I know that there’s a lot of myths out there as far as like if you’re not very active, I can consume too much protein could be detrimental to my kidneys or my liver. And that is such a myth. You know, I think we underestimate protein and we can definitely consume more of it. America as a whole and any protein that you don’t use will just be excreted out and will cause no harm to you, if anything. Talking about energy systems and this could be a different episode too, you know, depending on what type of physical activity you’re doing and the duration of it. Your protein can be a source of energy system, although it’s not your main one. But no we protein, it will not cause harm to you.
And again, like this 0.8 or one gram, I like to rounded up to one gram per kilogram just because the math is either, but this is the bare minimum for good bodily or for bodily function. When we say that your body needs protein, it needs protein for everything your brain, your hair, your liver, your muscles. We tend to think muscles with protein, especially if you’re trying to build more muscle mass, if you’re trying to get leaner.
The word we hear a lot is to get toned. If that is a goal of yours, you need to watch your protein. You need to increase this because again, it’s going to make you feel fuller, which is the whole purpose of today’s episode. But also, your body has a lot of stuff to do with the protein that you eat to build muscle mass. You need extra. You need more than this one gram. So like Shannon said, you are not damaging your kidneys. We promise to do at least one whole episode on protein. There’s a lot to cover. We will just leave you with this. It will not damage your kidneys. It is almost impossible to get too much protein. There have been studies done where people have ingested up to four grams of protein per kilogram with no adverse effects. It is very difficult to go past a threshold of protein that your body can do something with. Pay attention to how much you’re ingesting. Get your protein in, and use those strategies to stay fuller longer.