Today I want to talk about losing fat on a Real Food Challenge or “how to look better naked”.
While it’s certainly not the primary goal, a lot of people begin the Real Food Challenge looking to lose at least a few pounds.
Over the years one of the most common notes received via private messages, twitter pings and other reach-outs have the general theme of: “Hey, I think I’m stalled on my WEIGHT LOSS…should I go ketogenic? Cut out nuts? Join an Ashram?”
If your primary goal is fat loss I do not want you focusing on weight!
Read that last sentence again. I’m being completely serious. The scale is not your friend and stepping on it daily is not doing you any favors.
Here are four things I want you to do instead:
- I want you taking photos, and measurements.
- I want you sleeping 8-9 hrs per night in a pitch black room.
- I want you picking away at a performance goal (this can be anything from walking to the mailbox without getting winded, to getting your first pushup or pullup, or setting a new PR on a lift).
- I want you to know the difference between a mouth and a vacuum cleaner.
If you can do those things, you will succeed. Period.
All that said, Imagine a client who weighed over 300 lbs. He started eating Real-Food, doing two strength training sessions per week and walking 30-45 minutes on the days he didn’t come to the gym. He started dropping weight, but then stalled. After doing some digging someone found out he was eating an entire Costco container of cashews, PER DAY.
Similarly a gal attending one of the nutrition seminars years ago had an “aha” moment when she realized that consuming a can of coconut milk every day was likely too much for her.
While calories aren’t the singular thing that affects weight loss, calories do matter.
But don’t be afraid of eating fat!
The two people above were eating too much fat for their goals. But we need to remember that fat, in the form of avocados, coconut oil, nuts, is critical for health and weight loss. So while some folks might use it a bit too liberally for their goals, I don’t want you to be in the other camp of folks who avoid it altogether for fear of fat making them fat.
Fat doesn’t make you fat.
Let’s look at how to dial in your meals for best effect
It’s important to start paying close attention to how you feel after eating. Food has a direct effect on how we feel. When you are aware of how food affects you, you can make adjustments including amounts and types.
Do you feel foggy headed about 2 hours after eating?
Are you ravenously hungry —like you want to kill someone or something if you don’t eat NOW— 2 hours after eating?
If your answer to either of those questions is yes you need to look carefully at your last meal. Your carbohydrate load was likely too great. Try upping the protein and include a bit more fat.
Or do you feel slightly hungry, but could go a couple more hours without eating if you had to? That last meal was pretty dialed with regards to protein, carbs and fat. Replicate that.
If you are eating adequate protein and fat and are not overeating carbohydrates you will feel hungry but not “crazy” hungry. You’ll be mentally sharp and not in a panic for your next meal.
One thing I need to debunk: Real-Food does not mean low carb.
Real-Food means keeping carbohydrates to nutrient dense sources like vegetables, roots, tubers, berries and fruit. If you have significant weight to lose you will certainly find benefit from keeping your carb sources to vegetables and limiting fruit to a serving a day. However, if you’re not overweight and especially if you’re an athlete, you might find you need more carbohydrates to support your efforts. Carbohydrate tolerance varies greatly by individual. Tinker with increased amounts of sweet potato, and fruit and see how you look, feel and perform.
Last thing: “What about Real-Food treats?”
As the Real-Food has gained popularity a number of real food goodies have been brought to market. Please understand that these real food versions of popular baked goods — cookies, brownies, cakes, breads — while absent of gluten and dairy, are still “goodies”. They have no part in this 30 days Real-Food Challenge!