Fat loss is a popular topic in real food health circles. When my clients say they want to lose weight, what they usually mean is fat loss.
To put it simply, fat loss is a complex topic if you want to get nerdy about it…
…but if you take a step back and really look at it from a 30,000 foot view, there’s some simple – though not always easy – things you need to do to lose body fat.
In this post, the first of a three-part series, I’m sharing 4 nutrition must-do’s if your goal is sustainable fat loss.
First, Some Real Talk About Fat Loss
Let’s get a couple things straight right off the bat.
1) Losing body fat takes time. On the other hand, weight loss through water manipulation via salt or carbohydrates can happen literally overnight.
In reality, sustainable fat loss takes consistent effort over a longer period of time than just a day or a week. If you go overboard on treats or cheats and the next day you feel puffy, it’s not a result of fat gain.
Losing body fat means getting hormones to healthy levels, something that requires steady, nourishing practices.
2) Sustainable fat loss requires the right nutrition and lifestyle inputs. One way to think about it is this:
Fat loss is the result of improving your health. It’s a side effect, not a cause.
That takes a huge shift in mindset, but focusing your efforts on gaining health is far less stressful than the focus on losing weight or fat…
…and the accompanying restriction, punishment, and anguish that comes with the diet mentality.
3) Speaking of which, you can’t crash diet your way to sustainable fat loss either.
For some reason, the diet industry would have you believe that losing weight is as easy as severely restricting calories and exercising your ass off.
And somehow, people keep trying this strategy…even though they know it doesn’t work.
Starving yourself and doing relentless cardio means you’ll lose muscle mass, and that slows your metabolism.
It’s extremely common after crash dieting to gain all the weight you lost back…and more.
So what should you do instead? Keep reading for four food and nutrition tips that I recommend to my clients.
4 Tips for Sustainable Fat Loss
Tip #1: Eat Protein at Each Meal
If your goal is fat loss, protein at every meal is a non-negotiable. The reasons are two-fold:
First, protein is the most satiating of the three macronutrients – the others are carbohydrates and fat – so it’ll leave you feeling fuller, longer.
And second, if you want to build and maintain muscle mass, you’ll need adequate protein intake each day to do it. It’s a bit of a positive feedback loop: Build muscle, and your ability to burn body fat improves.
For fat loss, aim for the range of 0.75 to 1 g protein / pound of bodyweight each day. The best sources are nutrient-dense, real, whole protein sources like meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and shellfish.
Tip #2: Fill Your Plate with Real, Whole Foods
This one’s kind of a given, but eating a diet full of processed foods just isn’t conducive to fat loss.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to eat perfectly 24/7. But basing your diet on processed food won’t get you the results you want.
Besides being chock full of synthetic chemicals and preservatives, processed foods are often loaded with salt, low-quality fats, and refined carbohydrates. (And they’re usually low in protein.) Ironically, they’re still loaded with energy, so the result is a nutrient-poor diet that conveniently comes with all the calories.
Individual food tolerances will vary but a diet of real, whole foods with plenty of variety and color is a great place to start. This looks like meat, seafood, and eggs; vegetables and fruit; and healthy fats like avocado, coconut, nuts, and seeds.
Remember, food isn’t just macros or calories…the nutrient value matters too.
Tip #3: Eat Your Meals, Don’t Drink Them
If your goal is fat loss, avoid liquid meals like protein shakes and smoothies. As convenient as they are, these meals in a glass digest super fast leaving you hungry sooner. Even bulletproof coffee – in its original recipe – and other butter coffees are pitifully low in protein.
Of course, liquids like bone broth, tea, and the like don’t really count toward this maxim.
For best results, you’ll want to rely on solid meals. Chew your food. Sit down, be present, and really experience the food you’re eating. It’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat it.
Tip #4: Eat Breakfast
For the best chance at appetite regulation and fat loss, eat breakfast every day. From a practical point of view, getting enough protein each day (see #1) means you’ll need to eat breakfast to fit it all in.
Most of my clients experience the best sustainable fat loss when they eat a hearty, protein-rich breakfast each morning. In addition to being highly satiating, protein provides amino acid precursors to serotonin – a neurotransmitter needed for maintaining mood – and the hormone melatonin which helps put you to sleep at night.
For best fat loss results over time, eat your breakfast.
Fat loss is a process and requires the right inputs over time. Consistency is key. Nutrition is one piece of the equation, and I’ll cover lifestyle tips in the coming installments in this series.
For sustainable fat loss, follows these nutrition tips:
- Eat protein from nutrient dense sources at every meal.
- Focus the majority of your meals on real, whole foods.
- Eat breakfast each day.
- Eat your meals instead of drinking them.
Of course, there are so many more tips, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Start small and keep it simple.