I’m sure all of us, at one time or another have attempted to correct a bad habit. When trying to unlearn something, though, time seems to move in super slow motion. One thing I think we would all benefit from “unlearning” is what we’ve been told about nutrition and fat loss.
You see the headlines on a daily basis, “Don’t eat carbs, they’ll make you fat.” Don’t eat too much protein, it’s hard on your kidneys and you will damage them.” No wonder people are so confused about how to eat and what to eat.
To keep is simple, one needs to first determine are you under-eating or overeating? If your performance or body composition, is not where you want it to be, it’s safe to say that how much you’re eating (energy input) isn’t lining up with how much energy you’re expending (energy output).
Many tend to think that they are overeating because they have more bodyfat than they would like, but I find that most often, people are under-eating without even knowing it.
Interestingly enough, its not entirely their fault, that’s what we as a society have been taught to do. Often we are taught that we need to exercise MORE and eat EVEN LESS. The sneaky little thing about this type of thinking is that’s when progress stalls…your performance in the gym becomes stagnant or you hit a weight loss plateau, all because of too little fueling.
For most of us, we can agree that if we had some sort of plan to follow, maybe we could let go of the idea that we have to under eat every day…even if we’re trying to lose body fat. If your body wants or needs X amount of calories and you consistently feed it less and less, it will adjust (our bodies are pretty amazing). If you add in intense activity (weightlifting, running, hiking, CrossFit), it adjusts to that as well.
This process called adaption, can not be stopped. In fact for most, this adjustment process increases their cortisol response and their body holds on the the fat they are trying so desperately to lose!
If you keep restricting your calories with the expectation that you can continue to train and lift as a high level, at some point your body is going to revolt.
As you embrace the idea of putting performance first and fueling yourself properly, you might notice the number on the scale will go up and down periodically and that’s okay. We shouldn’t be attached to the scale. Its important to be aware of your weight but not to obsess over it. Remember, your weight fluctuates each day based on how much water you drink, how much activity you get and how much and what types of food you eat.
By tracking macro-nutrients (protein, carbs, fats) we can get an idea of just how much we’re eating. That way we can make adjustments along the way. If you never track what you eat, you really have no idea of your food intake or energy requirements, so how can you optimize performance or attempt to achieve your goals?
Tracking your macros saves you from those days when you think you’ve eaten enough and feel satisfied, only to find out later you were 1,000 calories short of what you needed; or from thinking you are in an energy deficit when you’re actually overeating.
Moral of the story? More exercise and LESS food isn’t always the answer.
The secret to dieting is to stop dieting. Learn how to fuel yourself properly, track your performance in the gym and adjust things as you go along.