How to lose weight without losing your sanity and social life
Wouldn’t it be amazing to lose weight without getting frustrated because you’re stuck on a rigid eating plan? A meal plan that doesn’t allow you to eat certain foods or go out to eat with friends and family? A meal plan that leaves you envious of your coworkers enjoying pizza on Fridays! There really is a way to lose weight while still eating everything you love and it’s called a flexible diet or IIFYM (If it fits your macros).
The Science of Weight Loss
There will be people who argue that calories don’t matter, but they actually do to lose weight. When it comes to losing weight, it’s calories in vs. calories out – that’s the science. For example: Let’s say you are a petite woman who wants to lose weight and you calculate that your calories to lose weight are 1500. Now you can eat 1500 calories of poptarts per day or you can eat 1500 calories of chicken, rice and broccoli. per day or you can eat 1500 calories of beans and tofu per day, the end result is the same, you will lose weight. Now this example isn’t about health and energy in general, so when it comes to being healthy too, that’s where the type of food you choose to eat plays a big role. But in terms of losing weight, your food selection doesn’t really matter.
This flexible approach allows you to eat essentially whatever you want as long as you stay within your daily macronutrient budget. Your macronutrients are your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; These will add up to your daily calorie intake. One gram of protein = 4 calories, one gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat = 9 calories. Flexible dieters will use apps like MyFitnessPal or MyMacros + to track their food intake, along with measuring cups and kitchen scales for the best accuracy. With this flexible approach, you can now eat those cookies or chips, or grab a donut at the office, or go to a restaurant or eat with your family and still lose weight. While strict eating plans work for some, they cannot be maintained in the long term, they do not teach people how to eat on their own, and they are known to cause eating disorders. Those who “deviate” from these strict eating plans because of a little indulgence usually feel guilty and throw in the towel: either they do their best and eat as much as they can, or they give up completely until maybe it arrives. next Monday. So why not incorporate a little chocolate or a few cookies into the day and make the whole process easier and more enjoyable? It is responsibility with flexibility. Think about the 80/20 rule for your nutrition. Whole foods should make up 80% of your diet and treats can make up 20% of your diet. This will keep you sane and you will be more likely to stick with your weight loss plan without losing your sanity and social life.
A quick note: fat loss vs. weight loss
Now, I don’t want to confuse weight loss with fat loss because they are two different things. Meeting a calorie goal will ensure weight loss (muscle, water, and fat), but if we want to ensure that we are losing primarily fat, then we must have a balance of our daily macronutrients. A protein gain of approximately 0.8-1.1 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day is a good starting point. Eating adequate amounts of protein will prevent muscle loss when dieting and the body will use more fat for fuel instead of breaking down muscle tissue. Some examples of excellent sources of protein are lean meats, eggs, fish, protein powders, tempeh, and lentils. There are several more, but I’ll save them for another article.
What to do in restaurants
With the flexible approach, there are a few things you can do:
* plan ahead by taking a look at the restaurant’s nutritional information and eat according to your goals
* if no nutrition information is available, stay flexible using your best estimates or look for something similar in your app
* Occasionally, you can swap carbohydrates and fat (total calories) while keeping the same protein. For example, if you weren’t allowed in too much fat for the rest of the day, but you decided on a higher-fat meal, keep carbs lower as long as you stay below your total calorie goal.
* structure your day to include more protein and vegetables because your “meal out” is most likely higher in carbohydrates and fat
* consider intermittent fasting (more advanced approach) to allow more calories to be consumed later in the day
* just enjoy food in moderation and go back to your plan the next day
There you have it, it IS possible to lose weight (although we really should be focusing on fat loss) and maintain your sanity and social life. Be responsible with your nutrition, but have fun, live life, be happy, and be flexible in your approach.