If you’ve been through more than one diet or weight loss program, than you’ve probably tried a few different approaches. We all have because being in a caloric deficit sucks. We’re all in constant search of the diet unicorn that magically keeps us full and satisfied and involves lots of pizza.
Okay so that may not be a thing. The most important component of whatever weight loss method you land on, whether it be Paleo, Ketogenic, IIFYM or intermittent fasting, is your ability to be consistent, even AFTER you have reached your goal. Thus using what you learn about your body during your “diet” and transitioning into a healthier, more balance lifestyle.
The first 3-4 weeks in a deficit should be the easiest. It’s when the motivation is strong and the results come the quickest. If you are miserable inside of these weeks, this is not the right approach for you.
To that end, I come to what I have been found long term success with.
Starting Tracking Your Food [3-4 Months]
Understand What You Eat
If you’ve never tracked what you eat in a day, it can seem tedious and overwhelming. If you haven’t done it , though, there’s a good chance that you aren’t fully aware of what you’re eating. Spend a week and just track everything you eat (AND drink) without making changes so you have a starting point. The accountability of this alone can be helpful with what choices you make.
Find Your Starting Maintenance Point
Now it’s time to whip out the scale and set a caloric goal. Multiply your body weight by 13 as a starting point for caloric maintenance. Step on the scale every other day or so, if there is more than .2 – .4 lbs difference consistently for 3-4 weigh-ins, in one direction, calories need to be adjusted. Add more if you loose, take away if you gain. For instance, if you progressively loose 1.2 pounds over 8 days, you need to increase your calories.
Spend at least 3 weeks getting a hard maintenance number before adjusting your calories for weight loss. Taking the time to find out what it takes to keep your body the way it is now will save you time in the long run. It’s kind of like trying to drive your car with no gas meter. If you try to base your fuel needs on a generic BMR equation, it’s easy to get it wrong. Especially if you have no prior experience tracking your food.
If you have not been weight training, this is the best time to start. Put on all the muscle you can before you are in a caloric deficit. The extra muscle will boost your metabolism into overdrive and allow you to eat more and have more energy throughout your diet.
Track Your a Caloric Deficit [4-8 Weeks]
Calories are the units of energy that food contains. When you just want to loose weight, all that matters is calories in and calories out. Burn more calories than you’re putting in. Make healthier choices and eat smaller portions of calorie dense foods. Shoot for 15-20% below your maintenance calories.
Track Macronutrients [6-10 Weeks]
Once you have tackled operating on a caloric deficit, you can start thinking about the types of calories you are consuming. This is an effective step to take when you have hit a plateau.
Take a look at your tracking app to see what the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fats is. A very generic breakdown of macro ratios should generally be around 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbohydrates. If you are wanting a more specific goal for you body type, activity level, health concerns or dietary restrictions, I suggest looking into getting a coach to work with you.
After 4-8 weeks of tracking your foods with macronutrients in mind, you will have a pretty good idea of how the foods you typically eat effect your goals and overall functioning health.
Begin Intuitively Eating [Indefinitely]
People that just want to live a healthy lifestyle typically aren’t into tracking their food for life. Well, really none of us are. The goal is to understand what food works for your lifestyle and how to eat indulgent foods in moderation.
Once you have this knowledge, you can move onto intuitively eating. Use a tracking app only every so often when you truly have no idea how many calories or macros are in a food item. The idea is just to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and keep a healthy relationship with food.
An important note to keep in mind is that your metabolism will alter your maintenance level as you begin to operate under a caloric deficit and become lighter. Many people assume they can go back to eating as normal after they have reached their goal weight, you will most likely have to track for a week or two to find your new maintenance intake at your new weight and metabolic rate.
This is an extremely broad overview of a somewhat difficult process. Hopefully I have answered more questions than I have raised, but if you would like more assistance, please reach out to me on social media and I would be happy to get the answers you are looking for. Please also read these articles that may be helpful:
Pin For Later!