4 Nutritional Principles I like to use for Losing Fat
– By Josh Davies
Summer is fast approaching and if you haven’t already, there is a good chance you are about to dive into your favourite workout plan or program in preparation for those beach trips or maybe that holiday you have been looking forward to all year. Then, with the exercise component in place, next you will start to figure out your daily caloric and macronutrient intake needs and start to devise a strategy for your nutrition. Let’s face it, nutrition makes up a major part of any successful fat loss journey….
Now, we could easily spend an hour or two talking about the complexities of nutrient intake requirements and caloric intake, however, what I would like to give you today is some broad principles I use when dieting to guide my daily efforts and help to keep me on-track and my eye on the prize.
Principle 1: Eat More Protein (Distribute it evenly throughout the day)
Protein offers fat-loss benefits that’ll help you maximize the physiological changes as you go through your fitness program. First, protein plays a major role in muscle growth and repair. If you consume enough protein, you can optimise muscle maintenance even when restricting calories.
Protein can also reduce your appetite because it takes time to digest, so food stays in your stomach longer. Plus, protein triggers the release of several satiety hormones, including cholecystokinin, to further suppress your hunger. The more protein you eat, the more cholecystokinin is released and the less hungry you feel.
You’ve also got to make sure you distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day to maximize muscle growth and maintenance. That’s because you need a minimum threshold of leucine, an amino acid found in protein that fully activates muscle growth and repair at the cellular level. You should aim to consume 25-35 grams of protein per meal to get the recommended dose of 2-3 grams of leucine per meal.
Make sure your protein comes from high-quality, complete proteins, such as dairy, beef, poultry, pork, and soy. These complete proteins are rich in leucine and contain all nine amino acids essential for maximizing muscle growth and repair.
Principle 2: Reduce Fat First
The amount of protein you consume will essentially be pretty much the same throughout your program period. Your challenge now is to adjust your other macronutrients to create a calorie deficit. When it’s time to start cutting calories, I like to cut fat first as I approach the summer period.
I don’t want to start by reducing carbohydrates because they are the primary fuel source for my brain and muscles. During intense exercise, your body relies on both carbohydrates and fat as fuel. The higher the volume and intensity of your workout, the more your body relies on carbohydrates, and I like to do some very high intensity exercise this time of the year!
Let’s say you need to create a 300-calorie deficit. You can remove 33 grams of fat, the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of olive oil or 4 tablespoons of peanut butter. Or you can cut out 75 grams of carbs, or about 2 cups of brown rice or 3-1/2 medium-sized apples!
Cutting those carbs would probably have a much bigger impact on your satiety. And if you’re constantly hungry when you start to diet, your chances of sticking to your plan are slim to none, which means you might not have those abs popping in time for your beach holiday.
Principle 3: Prioritize Carbohydrates Around Your Workouts
Consuming carbs around your daily workout delivers a quickly digested fuel supply that spares muscle glycogen, enhances focus, and reduces the extent of muscle breakdown. This is a great thing long-term!
Your post-workout meal, which I try to eat within an hour of finishing my workout, is full of carbohydrates to replenish my muscle glycogen stores and properly prepare my body for the next workout. Eating carbs post-workout also minimizes the rate of muscle breakdown, and enhances the recovery process.
To maximize energy before and during your workout, and to fuel recovery afterward, distribute your daily carbohydrate intake as follows:
Pre-workout meal: 30-35%
Intra-workout shake: 5-10%
Post-workout meal: 30-35%
By following this approach, you’ll be able to continue training hard and progressing well, while doing everything necessary to maximize muscle maintenance as you diet.
Principle 4: Drink More Fluids
This principle is highly underrated in my opinion! I often get very hungry when I diet, and you might also..! Hunger can send you sprinting to the pantry for a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate, and we don’t want that. Well, here’s a big secret I like to use. To keep my appetite in check without knocking myself out of a calorie deficit, I drink more fluids before, during, after, and in-between meals. Simple…!
The thing is, when you drink lots of fluids at once, your stomach fills and triggers receptors located in your stomach that send satiety signals to your brain. By staying hydrated throughout the day, and drinking plenty of water anytime hunger hits, you’re more able to skip that high-calorie snack you were fantasising about how great it will taste and stick to your plan.
Good luck this summer from the team at FCF!