If you're like most people, you probably find yourself somewhat confused by the overwhelming amount of nutrition information available on the internet and in the media. But nutrition doesn't have to be so complicated.
In fact, if you follow our approach, you'll discover that establishing nutritional targets for weight loss is a lot easier than you might expect. Below I want to walk you through a very simple process that you can use to establish nutrition targets and how to revise them in order to get the best results.
1. Establish Your Calorie Target
When it comes to weight loss, being in a caloric deficit is the single most important factor. In other words, you must be consuming fewer calories than you're burning. If you're not in a calorie deficit, you cannot lose weight. So, with that in mind, the first step in creating a nutrition plan for fat loss is to establish an appropriate calorie target.
Most people can expect to start losing weight by setting their daily calorie intake somewhere between 10 to 12 times their body weight (in pounds)*. With that in mind, a woman weighing 150 pounds might choose to set their intake anywhere anywhere between 1500 and 1800 calories per day.
If you're excited to get the weight loss moving then you might choose to establish your calorie intake towards the lower end of the range. On the other hand, if you'd like to start off slow and experience less hunger, you might opt to aim for the higher end. Whatever the case, any calorie target established at this point is only an estimate to get you started. It is likely that this will need to be adjusted later based on how your body actually responds (more on this below).
* If you happen to be very overweight, you may need to go lower (eg: 7-8 x body weight) to produce weight loss.
2. Establish Your Protein Target
Protein is important for building/maintaining muscle while losing fat. It also helps you to remain satiated so you'll typically find yourself less hungry when you're eating an adequate amount. You'll want to aim for somewhere between 0.7 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight (this works out to 1.5 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight).
3. Fill In The Balance
Provided that you're in a calorie deficit and you're getting an adequate amount of protein, you can fill in the remainder of your calories based on your personal preference*. If you tend to lean towards a diet that is higher in carbohydrates, then you can do that. If you tend to lean towards a diet that is higher in fat, you can do that. If you'd prefer to have more carbs one day and more fat the next, you can do that too. Again, as long as you uphold your calorie and protein targets, there are no foods that are off limits.
* If you have health conditions that require you to monitor your carb intake (Diabetes, PCOS) or fat intake (high cholesterol) then you may require additional targets here.
4. Assess & Refine
Finally, you're going to need to refine your nutrition plan over time based on how your body responds to the targets you've established. As I mentioned above, any initial targets you've established are ultimately just estimates so you'll probably have to revise them. To do that, we use a process called results based decision making. Below is a summary of how it works.
Determine Your Baseline Measurements
You want to determine your objective baseline measurements. While these can be whatever you want, I suggest that you take your weight and some measurements (chest, waist, hips) along with any other things you care to monitor.
Execute The Plan
Next you want to execute the plan by aiming for your nutritional targets for a minimum of two weeks. Often, a single week isn't long enough to see measurable progress.
Reassess For Progress
Finally, you want to reassess yourself and compare to your baseline measurements to see how your body is responding. Once you've assessed yourself, you'll need to ask yourself some questions to determine your next actions.
Are you making progress?
If so, keep doing what you're doing. There's no reason to fix what isn't broken. If you're not making progress, continue to the next question to determine why your progress is stalled and what needs to be done to address it.
Are you following the plan?
If you've not been diligent about doing the plan you have, then there is no point in revising your nutritional targets. If you're not following plan A, it is unlikely that you're going to follow plan B either.
Instead, this is a great opportunity to look at some of the obstacles that prevented you from hitting your targets and devise solutions so that you'll be able to hit your targets more often going forwards. This is where it is helpful to have a trainer to aid you in identifying and overcoming nutritional barriers.
If you have been very diligent about hitting your nutritional targets and are still not seeing progress, then (and only then) should you be revising your targets. In this case, that might mean reducing your caloric intake by 100 calories per day or revisiting your exercise plan.
Either way, you'll come back again in a couple weeks and reassess progress. Using the framework above, you can continually refine different elements of your program (or troubleshoot obstacles) to keep getting results over time.
Mark Young, BKin, is Head Personal Trainer at Heron Creek Yoga & Fitness, a locally-owned health facility located in the Ancaster Rotary Centre at 385 Jerseyville Rd W. Contact us for top quality professional care at our 10,000 sq ft facility which has plenty of equipment, a dedicated Yoga studio, and much more. Email: email@example.com, phone 905-648-4571, ig @heroncreekyogaandfitness, fb heroncreekyogaandfitness