How long did it take to get on that treadmill today? Was the gym crazy crowded when you arrived? The new year phenomenon is great – everyone making resolutions (or as I prefer to call them, intentions) at this time of year and many are hitting the gym with vigor. I love it. The sense of community at the gym is contagious and breeds a sense of accountability (at least for the month of January). But don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you logged 3 miles on the treadmill or lifted for 30 minutes, that the pounds are just going to fall off. That just isn’t true. Keep eating the same way you have since Halloween, and you will find that you are simply maintaining the weight and not losing much. Weight loss starts in the kitchen, not the gym. Yup, it’s true. It’s not what anyone wants to hear, but you have to consume less, to lose weight.
What are you currently consuming?
In order to know how much to cut back, first you have to know what you are currently consuming. Many of us don’t have a clue. The only thing that has ever worked for me – log every single morsel of food and drink that I consume. When I lost 25-30 lbs for the first time, I used a food tracker everyday. At first, I just logged what I ate. I didn’t make any changes to my intake, I just tracked what I ate. What did I learn? I drank way too many calories. Empty calories. Every glass of wine is 125 calories. Ladies, I know you don’t want to hear it, but if you want to lose weight, you have to cut the booze. At least cut way back. The other thing I learned – I didn’t understand portion sizes at all. I poured old fashioned oats out of the box directly into my bowl. Even though I was eating oatmeal (super healthy option for breakfast), I had no idea that I was eating the amount best suited for 2 adults, not one 35-year-old woman. Start paying attention – read labels – count the number of nuts you are about to pop into your mouth – track your food intake. Download our app to make your life easier.
How much SHOULD you be consuming?
Now that you know what you are currently consuming, how much SHOULD you be consuming? What is appropriate for a 38-year-old man who is moderately active? The US Department of Agriculture publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every 10 years; the next update will be published in 2020. According to their website at www.dietaryguidelines.gov, “Estimates range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day for adult men. Within each age and sex category, the low end of the range is for sedentary individuals; the high end of the range is for active individuals.”(1) These are basic needs for weight maintenance, not caloric recommendations for weight loss. So for that 38-year-old moderately active man, he should be consuming about 2600 calories a day. Keep in mind that if this man ate at McDonald’s for lunch tomorrow, ordering a Big Mac, large French fries and a large Diet Coke (I added that it in for giggles), he would consume 1040 calories at that one meal.
If you are committed to losing weight and tracking your intake, our app will do the math for you. Simply plug in your current weight, age, gender and target weight, estimate your level of activity, and our app will calculate your daily recommended intake as well as your appropriate breakdown of macronutrients.
WHAT should you be consuming?
According to the Dietary Guidelines from the USDA, there are 6 simple nutrition strategies that we can all implore to help manage our weight (if only it were that simple, right?):
- Portion control – Smaller portion sizes contribute to weight loss. Our advice – measure your food. Invest in multiple sets of measuring cups and measuring spoons. Measure every morsel. You will see a huge impact.
- Don’t eat out – Decrease visits to fast food and quick-service restaurants. Honestly, if you can’t control what goes into your food, you have no way of knowing how your food is prepared. Did they go crazy with butter, oil or salt? “Strong evidence supports that people who eat at these establishments one or more times per week are at a high risk of weight gain, overweight, and obesity.” (2)
- Aim for a calorie deficit of 500 calories/day – Either eat less or burn more, about 500 calories a day. Given that 1 pound = 3500 calories, you need to have a deficit of about 500 calories everyday to lose 1 pound a week.
- Increase intake of veggies, fruit and whole grains. Evidence suggests that adults who eat more high-fiber foods have lower body weight than their peers that eat fewer servings of these foods.
- Decrease intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Watch out for Starbucks – that coffee drink you love every morning could be sabotaging your weight loss. It is loaded with sugar and calories. And alcohol. Excessive alcohol intake is associated with weight gain. “At 7 calories a gram, alcohol is very high in calories with little or no nutrient value.” (2)
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “Skipping the morning meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it. If your body doesn’t get that fuel from food, you may feel zapped of energy — and you’ll be more likely to overeat later in the day.” (3)
Spicy Vegetarian Breakfast Burrito
Since you’ve made a commitment to yourself this new year, you have to try something new. Change only happens outside of your comfort zone. Download the Focused on Fit app, track your food for a week, and see what you learned. If you feel comfortable, share it in the comments below. We want to help!
- ACE Fitness Nutrition Manual, p. 55
- ACE Fitness Nutrition Manual, p. 57