My best friend has asked me to help her get in shape for summer vacation. This blog series is my exact answer. Part One is here, if you haven’t read that yet.
Step 2) What the hell should I eat?
In the body building industry they say that 80% of what you look like is determined by what you eat. While we can argue over the exact percentage, it’s safe to say that your diet is pretty damn important if you want to look and feel great. So let’s dive into, shall we?
1) Calculate your calories and macros. Since we’re trying to get in shape for a rapidly approaching deadline, we’re going to take the fast, yet still safe, route to get there. Starvation-like diets are so last season, my dear friend. That’s not what we do here. Why? Because we have too much important shit we gotta do to do something ridiculous like under fuel our badass selves like that.
Calories – Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 10. That is the number of calories you should be eating on a daily basis for quick fat loss.
This calculation will cover most people but let’s talk about a few situations where it won’t work. If you are more than 50 pounds over a healthy goal weight, then you would need to take your desired weight (in pounds) times 14. Your answer would be the calories you should eat on a daily basis.
A second scenario would be if you have been severely under-eating for awhile now, which is very common, unfortunately. Let’s say you’re 150 pounds, so using the calculation, you should eat 1,500 calories per day to lose weight. But let’s say you’re only eating 1,300 calories and not really losing weight. This means your metabolism has slowed down in response to the low calories you’ve been eating. So, you’ll need to start eating 1,300 calories, and then bump up to 1,400 calories the next week, and then 1,500 the following week, til you get to a healthy level of calories. If this is you, I highly suggest you work with a nutritionist, trainer or registered dietician that can help you navigate this situation as it can be tricky and hard to navigate while in the middle of it.
Macronutrients (ie: “macros”, protein, carbohydrate and fat) – Take your body weight in pounds and that is the maximum number of grams of protein you should be eating each day. If you see that number and feel that pigs might fly before you can eat that much protein, at least commit to eating a minimum of 100 grams of protein per day. As far as carbohydrates and fat is concerned, I don’t want you to worry about that right now. Just hit your calories and your protein target. However, please note that carbs are not your enemy. They fuel all kinds of functions in your body, and in the appropriate amounts, they can help you burn fat and get in shape. No macronutrient is off limits as we don’t do extreme things like cut out an entire food group, got it?
2) Download a food tracker app to your smart phone, create an account, and get to tracking your food! I suggest you use MyFitnessPal or MyNetDiary. Both have free versions that are fantastic. The first few days of logging your food will seem tedious, but if you’re anything like me, you tend to eat the same basic things. After just a few days, your food tracker will pre-populate your frequently eaten foods (ie: you won’t have to look them up in the search bar). Tracking your food will be HUGE in terms of whether you hit your goals or not. Do not shrug off this step.
Here’s a pro tip to making this easier: log your food into the tracker the night before. You can play around with food choices and serving sizes to hit your calorie and protein target. Fail to plan, plan to fail. Plus, you won’t veer from it the next day since you had to log half a goldfish cracker to hit your exact calorie goal and you don’t want to mess that up.
You may be tempted at this point to throw in the towel and just follow a cookie-cutter diet plan you found in a magazine while waiting for little Olivia to get her teeth cleaned. For the love of all things holy, don’t do that! I know you think it’d be easier to just follow what someone else tells you to do in excruciating detail. But you’re a grown ass woman and you don’t need someone to tell you exactly what to eat at exactly this time of day. Logging your food and hitting calorie & protein targets provides structure, yet also allows for flexibility that makes this doable long-term. Yes, we’re getting in shape for the summer, but we want it to last, right? We want it to be as painless as possible with as few stumbling blocks as possible.
Log your food daily. Hit both your calorie target and your protein target every day. Jump for joy as your shorts get looser and your energy remains stable. You’re killin’ it!!
Part Three coming up will give you the exact cardio workouts you need to add in to your daily regimen to get that body fat burning off!