To shed fat all you need to do is eat less, right? Simple enough, but how many times have you simply eaten fewer calories only to find the pounds holding on for dear life? It seems no matter what you do, the fat tissue just won’t budge and you start to panic and eat even less! It’s time stop for a moment and really dissect this whole diet thing and get down to brass tacks. Let’s breakdown what is really needed in a diet and why your efforts are going unnoticed. You may be surprised at what you find out.
Are you eating enough of the good stuff?
The simple act of cutting calories without a specific plan to do so is a quick recipe for disaster. Do you know if the calories you cut out are carbs? Protein? Fat? Are you getting in enough vitamins, minerals through fruits and vegetables? Cutting calories for the sake of cutting isn’t enough. If you take in too little, your metabolism starts to slow down and your body holds on to every ounce of fat it can. It starts to think you are starving and the next mealtime is days away. It’s a survival mechanism.
Your first order of business should be to make sure you are taking in adequate amounts of macro and micronutrients. A balanced, healthy diet is essential in the long run.
Are you starving yourself?
Again, the act of reducing calories to extreme lengths will only slow your metabolism down. It downshifts for the sake of survival. It will store any food it can for emergencies later (long ago, it would store fat in case of long periods of no eating). Of course, these days we have food available at our fingertips 24 hours per day – we no longer have the threat of fending off saber-toothed tigers. Eating regularly-spaced meals which include complex carbs and proteins is essential for your success. The last thing you want to do is eat less, starve, and hold onto your fat stores at the same time!
Have you tried cycling carbs?
So what are you to do? One method that has worked well over the years is carb cycling. This method allows you to reduce calories temporarily and then increase them for a day or two. This does two main things: 1) It allows you to actually eat a fairly good portion of food so you don’t go crazy on low calories for too long and 2) On those high calories days you will fill up your energy stores in your muscle tissue so you can keep on training and living optimally.
Normally, a 3 to 4 day low calorie stint can end with a 1 day calories surplus. But a word of caution: This isn’t a green light to junk up and just eat crap for a day. Good clean food will get you to your goal quicker.
Are you keeping fats in check?
The macronutrient fat is a wonderful and underused tool in most individual’s arsenals. Once vilified and cast into the abyss of all that is bad, these days fat is a welcomed helper in our war against body fat. Not only is it great for bringing much-needed satiety to our appetites, it also help regulate key hormones such as testosterone. And yes, even women need certain amounts of testosterone to help burn fat, build muscle and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Again, going overboard with any type of nutrient isn’t a good thing as fat has 9 calories per gram versus protein and carbohydrate having 4 calories per gram. A little goes a long way.
Are you resistance training?
You are weight training, right? Without any type of resistance training close to half the weight you do lose on a low calorie diet may be from muscle. You will be stuck with the dreaded skinny-fat look. What good is a body with no muscle, no capability and no functionality? Resistance training builds muscle, therefore increasing your metabolism to burn more body fat. Additionally, it will help you utilize the food you do eat for more important functions and efficiency.
Staying on a moderate resistance training regimen 3 nonconsecutive days per week combined with a cardiovascular component will ensure your dieting efforts are worth it and you will have a better body for it.
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