90% of new coaching clients I work with have read about nutrition for fat loss and building muscle. But they struggle with deciding what to eat for each meal. Below is the simple cheat sheet I use with clients to help them make better nutritional choices more consistently.
Keep in mind, that when it comes to fat loss. Creating a consistent calorie deficit over an extended period of time is the most important thing. You can learn more about setting up your diet for that are our getting started with a nutrition guide.
The nutrition for fat loss tips below is for anyone struggling to get started. Choose 1 practice for 2-weeks before leveling up.
Nutrition for fat loss cheat #1 – It’s never the “diet”
The majority of my clients want to lose fat. To do this you need to create a caloric deficit through training and nutrition. But you already knew this.
The hard part is implementing it on a daily basis. There are a number of ways you can go about this. You can follow a “diet” like Palo, keto, or vegan. You can count calories and track macros. You can do things like intermittent fasting or juice cleanses. All of which will work because they can help you create a caloric deficit in one of two ways:
- Eliminate certain food groups like grains, dairy, meat, carbs in general. Or entire meals (Intermittent fasting and cleanses).
- Force you to become aware of your intake. This is done when you weigh and measure everything that you’re eating and drinking
I’ve always said, I’m more of a nutritional agnostic.
I don’t really believe one method is better than another. There are a number of ways you can approach nutrition to help you lose fat and build muscle. However, for most of the people, I’ve worked with following “diets” and counting calories is never a long-term solution.
Counting calories work but can be a pain in the ass and most people hate doing it. Following a specific diet comes with a steep learning curve and most people get frustrated trying to figure out what they can and can’t eat. And how to eat out and still follow the diet.
If you want to start losing fat today here are 2 strategies you can implement immediately that will help – Without changing the food that you eat.
1 – EAT SLOWER
Most people eat far too fast and don’t let their tummy signal to their brain that they’re actually full. It takes roughly 20-minutes for this to happen. If you finish a meal in 2-minutes, there are 18-minutes in which you can still keep eating without realizing you’ve had enough to eat.
Set a timer, use chopsticks, and put utensils down in-between bites. Give yourself a chance to feel full. Studies are showing that just by slowing down when you eat you’ll consume fewer calories. Enough to lose 20 pounds a year without making any other changes.
2 – EAT UNTIL YOUR 80% FULL
We’ve been conditioned at a very young age to clear our plates – Because you know, there are starving kids out there and somehow us overeating, even though we’ve had enough will save them all. Learning when you’ve had enough to eat can be tough but if you’re eating slowly it will give you a chance to check in with yourself and assess how much hunger you actually have.
A few ways to eat to 80% full are to use smaller plates or purposely leave 20% of your meal on your plate at the 20-minute mark of eating. Then ask yourself how much hunger you still have
Nutrition for fat loss cheat #2 – Are you eating protein and veggies with each meal?
Protein with every meal will help you lose body fat and maintain lean muscle. Adding a serving of vegetables with that source of protein will help reduce your appetite and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. Thus, you’ll be eating less over a 24 hour period. But how much protein and veggies per meal?
- For men: 2 palms of protein or roughly 40-60 grams of protein and 2-3 fists of veggies
- For women: 1 palm of protein or roughly 20-30 grams of protein and 1-2 fists of veggies
To help you include a source of protein and veggies with each meal download and use the real food chart. Mix and match your favorite sources and get creative with herbs, spices, and various seasonings to create meals you’ll enjoy.
Nutrition for fat loss cheat #3 – Eat smart carbs and swaps grains with greens
Before we jump in I want you to know a little secret. Carbs are not bad for you. They don’t make you fat. Whew, glad I got that off my chest.
Restaurants want you to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth so they give you large servings of inexpensive foods like rice, bread, and other grains.
Carbohydrates are also typically easy to prepare. Making a sandwich takes less time and clean up than cooking a meal for yourself. Pouring a bowl of cereal is less time-consuming than mixing up some oatmeal and scrambling a few eggs.
Make smarter carb choices by including a fist-sized serving of berries with a meal or two. If you have to eat starchy carbs like sweet potato, bread, or rice – be aware of the portions.
- 2 cupped handfuls, or 40-60 grams for men per meal.
- 1 cupped handful or 20-30 grams for women is usually enough.
If rapid fat loss is a goal of yours, limit starchy carbs to post-exercise only and swap vegetables with some of your starchy carbs during the day.
To help you with this download and use the Limitless All Day plate and Post-workout plate graphics.
Nutrition for fat loss cheat #4 – Have some healthy fats with most meals
Healthy fats are not only important for proper hormonal function but also help with satiety and controlling hunger. Most people severely undereat healthy fats and this can lead to an inefficient metabolism, blood sugar swings, and difficulty controlling appetite.
- For men, 2 thumb-sized servings or 14 to 24 grams of healthy fat will do the trick
- For women, 1 thumb or 7 to 12 of healthy fat is a good place to start.
Healthy fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, and nuts and seeds are perfect for this.
Nutrition for fat loss cheat #5 – Drink mostly zero-calorie beverages.
The following list is the average amount of calories in some of our favorite beverages (calorie king).
- Fruit juice (8oz.): 115 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 27 grams of sugar
- Soda (12oz.): 140 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 39 grams of sugar
- Vitamin Water (20oz.): 125 calories, 33 grams of sugar
- Beer: 153 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrate
- Coffee w/cream & sugar: 120 calories, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 17 grams of sugar
By eliminating caloric beverages you can save yourself hundreds and sometimes thousands of calories per day. That’s enough alone to lose a pound or two each week. Ami, a client of mine lost 15 pounds in one month just by swapping a rum and coke each night with water.
Should I make all these changes at once?
These tips are ways to make any meal healthier, faster to make, and better. If you want a jump start with these strategies you can download this sample 2-week meal plan.
But here’s the deal.
Making changes like this can be tough. Far too often people try to bite off more than they can chew and end up failing in a week or two. You don’t need to implement all of these tips at one time or to follow the meal plan I’ve provided 100% to start making progress.
Pick one of the tips above and practice it for a week. Or pick one of the meals – lunch for instance – in the meal plan and make it for a week. Start slow, build momentum, and when you’ve found your groove start adding a little more.
One small improvement at a time
When I coach clients I never give them a strict meal plan to follow, wish them luck, and expect them to follow it perfectly. That’s not realistic and that’s not coaching. Most people need help navigating healthy eating in their everyday life. To learn how to eat well when they travel, go out with friends, and to manage emotional eating and constant snacking because of excessive hunger.
This takes time.
It takes practice.
You’ve probably tried to follow a super strict meal plan before. I’m willing to bet you did well with it for a few weeks, saw some progress, but then life got in the way, and you were done with it. That or you felt deprived and hated it.
Learn how to eat healthy without nutrition consuming you. Make one small change today and practice it for a week or two. Slowly add in new healthy habits when you’ve got that one down.
I’ll talk to you tomorrow about implementing a bodyweight training program so that you can get stronger, build muscle, and lose fat when combined with the nutritional strategies in this email.
Photo by luciano paris on Unsplash