NB. THIS PAGE IS UPDATED REGULARLY (LAST UPDATE NOV 2017)
“You lose weIght in the kitchen, you GET fit in the gym”
The above is true for one simple reason – exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think. I weigh 85kg, and even when I run 5km in a solid 26 minutes, keeping my average heart rate at 172bpm, I only burn 440kcal (according to my Apple Watch that is). How is it that all I work off is a sandwich?! It’s so easy to undo all of your hard work in the gym by coming home and eating the wrong food.
If you want to lose weight, first and foremost you need to sort out your diet.
RULE 1: Your calorie intake has to be lower than your calorie expenditure
It’s simple maths. More out than in means that you will lose weight. Period. The difficulty comes in tailoring your macros (protein, fat, carbohydrate) to make the few calories you’re eating as filling as possible! Use tdeecalculator.net to help you calculate your own maintenance and cutting calorie values (cutting = weight loss).
Rule 2: It has to give you enough energy to keep you going throughout the day.
This is why just starving yourself doesn’t work. You need energy to function – you have to eat.
Rule 3: It has to be sustainable – there’s no point if you can’t stick to it!
This is why I hate the word dieting! It only works when you change your eating habits – a habitual change is much more sustainable than an impulse one.
Rule 4: It has to keep you feeling full
If you don’t feel full you’re going to end up snacking – guaranteed! Protein has the highest effect on satiety of all the macronutrients – meaning that a protein rich diet should make it easier for you to stick to your calorie restriction. High fibre has also been shown in a recent scientific paper to be important.
Things to do before you start Eating to lose weight
- Weigh yourself and work out your BMI. The body mass index has its limits, but unless you have muscles to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger (which I’m assuming you don’t based on the fact you’re reading this post) it’s not a bad place to start. Work out what weight you need to be to put you in a healthy BMI range, and make that your goal.
- Take photos of yourself when you start. Change happens slowly, and it’s easy to get demotivated because you’re not able to see it. Taking periodic photos along the way really helps.
- Download MyFitnessPal to your phone. Put in your details and set how quickly you want to lose weight. It will give you a good idea as to what your daily calorie goal should be. The app also allows you to input your food and keep a track of everything to make sure you’re hitting that goal.
- Buy an electronic kitchen scale. It might seem really over the top at first, but it’s almost impossible to work out your calorie intake unless you weigh everything you put on your plate. Eventually it will start to become more second nature, but I still use it on a daily basis for a lot of things.
- Get motivated. Tell people what you are planning on doing. Unless people keep you accountable you are likely to slack off and stop altogether. Think about the last time you went on a diet. Weight loss isn’t an overnight activity – it takes time, effort and dedication.
Get rid of the cereals. Instead start eating eggs. This will increase the amount of protein you are eating, and should keep you fuller for longer.
You can eat your eggs scrambled, poached or in an omelette. Have them with black pudding, spring onions, tomatoes, avocado, and smoked salmon (if it’s not too expensive). If you need carbs have half a bagel. Or just have an extra egg rather than the other half of the bagel! Make the omelettes with spinach, tomatoes, paprika. Use balsamic vinegar/glaze rather than ketchup/BBQ sauce as it’ll be lower on the calories. Add nuts and seeds (in moderation) as they are a great source of fats to keep you fuller for longer. Start eating more volume for breakfast than you ever used to.
If you need a break from eggs, buy some 0% fat greek natural yoghurt. Have it with fresh fruit (less calories than dried fruit), almonds and cinnamon.
You can eat very similar meals for both. Try and undo the concept of eating your biggest meal of the day for dinner, and try to eat more at lunch. Starting basing your meals around protein. Chicken breast is great as it’s low calorie and high protein per gram. It’s also cheap. Turkey breast is even better but it’s often more expensive. Fish (cod, salmon, haddock) is great – I tend to buy it when it’s reduced/on special, as again it’s more expensive. Beef mince is good if you buy the lean kind (lower fat %), not because the fat is bad but because it has less calories per gram. Steak is amazing if you can find it at a decent price. Eat these proteins with loads of vegetables – bell peppers, broccoli, lettuce, rocket, tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, beetroot, sun-dried tomatoes, chilli, bacon (not a vegetable but eat it anyway). Add nuts/seeds (cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds). Use balsamic vinegar/glaze to dress things. Season with strong flavours – paprika, cajun seasoning, citrus, chilli – that way your taste buds won’t miss the sugary sauces as much. If you’re really missing the carbs use wraps. Stuff them full and make a salad to go on the side. Dress that salad with balsamic – don’t be shy.
I’ve found that I’m a lost less tired and hungry with this diet that I was before. However sometimes you need to snack to tide you over until the next meal.
- greek yoghurt with nuts and fruit
- apples, oranges
- rice cakes with pate/soft cheese
- pork scratchings (!)
- nuts (in moderation)
FOOD to avoid
- Fruit juice – you would never eat as much fruit in one go as you do when you drink it. It’s a hell of a lot of sugar.
- Biscuits, sweets, chocolate, cake
- Cappuccinos, frappuccinos (any shop-bought coffee usually means loads of sugar).
As much as I’ve said it’s all about food – if you don’t do some regular exercise your metabolism is going to plummet. Do whatever exercise is most interesting for you – cardio, HIIT, weight lifting. The latter is important to include in any exercise plan, as not only does it help you not to lose muscle, but the more muscle you have the higher your base metabolic rate is. This leads to you burning more calories at rest without having to do anything!
It might seem overwhelming – I promise it’s not. Get into a routine and soon it will feel second nature. Get cooking – learn how to cook if you can’t already. It’s so important to know what you’re putting into your body, and cooking is the only way to make sure of that.
People always ask about low-carb diets. They’re helpful are helpful in the right circumstances – the current evidence suggests that if you are starting with a high level of body fat (20%+) you will tend to fare better by initially restricting carbohydrates. I stuck to a daily carbohydrate goal of 100g and worked out the rest of my macros from there, this should be enough to stop you getting grumpy!
Send me a message at [email protected] if you have any burning questions – I’ll try and answer as many as possible!
Finally follow me on Instagram for daily food ideas and the occasional overly-inspirational progress photos.