You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” What does it mean? Can you simply watch what you eat and the fat will melt off your tummy or thighs? Certainly, trained professionals will tell you that a balance of healthy habits like exercise, clean eating and adequate sleep is the best prescription for fat loss. Good nutrition is the key to getting maximum results. We’re here to share with you 5 simple habits to maximize fat loss.
Before we dive into each habit, it should be emphasized that you shouldn’t try to implement them all at once. These five habits may seem easy, like you could start them all tomorrow, but you will increase your chances of success by starting with just one. When you try to take on too many new things at once, especially changes, it’s easy to set yourself up for failure. You are much more successful if you take on one new habit at a time. Make sure you are confident that you can stick to the habit you choose or you increase your chances of failing. Practice the habit that you choose over the course of the next 2-4 weeks. When you have successfully implemented the habit into your lifestyle, add and conquer another habit until all five are like second nature.
Habit 1: Small Balanced Meals. Eating small balanced meals throughout the day helps you from making poor decisions. Go too long without having anything to eat and all willpower is lost, poor decisions ensue. You know what we mean…remember the last time you hadn’t eaten for hours and all you wanted was pizza or ice cream? When you have meals and snacks prepared, ready to go and at regular intervals throughout the day you can help eliminate these cravings and poor choices. Every 2-4 hours is a good benchmark of when to eat. Try to include a serving of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. For some people 3 meals a day is fine; if that works for you then great! Keep going. If your struggling to make good choices, give this habit a try.
Habit 2: Eat a serving of protein at each meal.
At each meal you should try to include 1-2 servings of protein (1 serving for women, 1-2 for men). A serving is 20-30g; you can use your palm as a reference. A palm is 1 serving (20-30g or 4-6 oz) Protein is essential to a healthy diet for several reasons:
- Increase Metabolism
- Improved Immune Function
- Keeping You Full
- Building & Repairing of Tissue
- Optimal Hormone Function
- Fish (i.e. Salmon)
- Lean red meat
- Omega 3 Eggs
- Greek Yogurt
- Protein Powders (Whey, Egg white, Brown Rice, Pea Protein)
Habit 3: Eat vegetables with each meal.
Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals that help to fight against many life threatening diseases. Aim to get 1-2 servings and anywhere from 5-10 cups per day. A serving of vegetables is 1 fist size or 1/2 to 1 cup.
Sources of Vegetables:
- Brussel Sprouts
Habit 4: Earn your carbs: When you’re trying to lose weight your goal should be to have starchy carbohydrates only after an intense workout. Research has shown that our bodies process carbohydrates much better during and or after exercise. So if your looking to have bread or rice, go for a run or lift some weights beforehand. An intense workout is anything over 45 minutes, sorry that 1o min stroll around the block doesn’t count.
Sources of Starchy Carbohydrates:
- Brown Rice
- Whole Grain Bread
- Whole Grain Oats
- Mixed Beans
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Sweet or white potato
Women should aim to have 1 cupped hand or 1/4 cup serving after a workout and men should aim for 1-2 cupped hand or 1/4-1/2 cup serving after a workout.
Habit 5: Eat healthy fats at each meal:
A healthy diet consists of a balance of 3 main fats (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat). To achieve this you have to add in healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats to each meal. Saturated fat will come from some of lean protein that you will be consuming from each meal. So instead of trying to balance out percentages and ratios just focus on adding a few of these types of healthy fats to each meal.
Sources of Healthy Fats:
- Olive Oil
- Nut Butters
- Flax Seeds and Oil
- Fish Oil
Women should aim to add 1 serving of fat to each meal and males should aim for 1-2 servings. Once again instead of measuring or calorie counting our food use your hand a simple reference. 1 serving of fat is about the size of your thumb. This roughly equals a tablespoon. So think 1 tablespoon of oils or nut butter and anywhere from 8-16 nuts depending on the type.
Remember choose one of these habits that you feel confident in and start practicing it for the next 2-4 weeks. If your successful move on to the next habit that is the easiest for you.
Ryan Maciel, C.S.C.S, Pn1
CSC Fitness Coach