Summer is right around the corner even though it just snowed a couple days ago here in New England.
Despite the snow, the temperatures have been getting warmer, and we’re slowly transitioning out of hibernation and will soon be attending cookouts, bbq’s, pool parties, and heading to the beach.
So it only makes sense to shift our focus towards fat loss.
We gotta look good for the summer, right?
If you want to lose fat, improve your confidence, and feel really awesome, then put these tips to use when planning your summer fat loss protocol.
Fat Loss Begins with an Understanding
Getting lean and sexy for the summer is more than just eating less and working out.
If you’re new to dieting/nutrition, having a good understanding of the basics of nutrition can go a long way.
As much as I love using a kitchen scale for consistency and accuracy with portions, you simply don’t need to be worrying about measuring anything with a food scale quite yet.
For the beginner, it’s important to learn what foods contain protein. Which contain carbohydrates. Which contain fats.
While the fat loss recipe does involve exercise, calorie deficits and consistency, it’s more important for someone brand new to the game to get a solid understanding of these building blocks before getting into the details.
Don’t go for a complete overhaul right off the bat.
Even if you know your diet is pretty poor.
Changing everything at once will make it incredibly difficult to stick to and will not get you super fast results.
Start with small things like drinking more water, eating protein at every meal, and including a serving of veggies at every meal.
Things like that work. And they work quite well.
Instead of eating this or avoiding that, demonizing this food group, and tip-toeing around with your nutrition, start with small changes and build from there.
Create a good foundation to work from. Learning the basics of dieting from the beginning will help you for many years to come regardless of your goals.
Simple awareness is one of the BEST tools you can use when aiming to lose weight and body fat. Being aware of what, how much, and when you’re eating are important to creating a sustainable fat loss plan that fits YOU.
Keeping a food log for the first few days of starting out will benefit you in knowing your eating tendencies. You can then make small changes based on what you’re currently doing instead of starting completely from scratch.
Get a Close Estimate of Food Intake
Once you’ve become aware of your eating habits, you should begin to take an assessment of total food intake.
You can go old-school pen and paper, or use apps like My Fitness Pal to log your food intake for several days.
Understand that logging your food isn’t going to cause fat loss.
But what it will do is help you get an idea of how much you’re actually eating, and the amounts of each macronutrient you’re consuming each day.
Based on the data you record, you can then see what needs to be improved.
For the majority of people, eating more protein and fewer carbs and fats is likely needed.
Carbs and fats are easier to eat, so getting those in is pretty easily done without trying. Check out your protein total at the end of a day of logging and strive to get in about 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Logging your food for a few days will be very beneficial. If you think you’re only eating 2,000 calories, but you total everything up and you’re at 3,200 calories, then that would be the reason for stalled weight loss.
So get an idea of your total caloric intake and make adjustments from there.
Eat Foods You Like
Seems a bit counterproductive for me to recommend eating all the foods you love, right?
Well, not so fast.
Too many people attack fat loss with the mentality of ‘gotta eat clean’ and ‘no junk food, ever.’
What happens every single time with this approach?
It doesn’t work!
Now I’m not saying you have to eat ‘junk’ food.
No, not at all actually.
What I’m suggesting is that you figure out how to incorporate foods you like to eat into your overall diet strategy.
If you hate chicken breast, then you don’t have to eat it. You can get protein from many other sources.
If the sight of oatmeal makes you sick, then don’t eat it.
There are so many foods that can satisfy your protein, carb, fat, veggie, and fruit sources that your options are pretty much endless.
What I would recommend is to start incorporating some whole food sources into your meals if you aren’t currently doing so.
You don’t need to completely switch from those stupid terms ‘junk’ to ‘clean eating’ but be a bit more mindful of what you’re eating.
Because if you completely dread your diet, you won’t be able to stick to it.
On the contrary, if you’re also just pigging out on all of the tastiest foods all the time, you’ll likely have a hard time being in a calorie deficit.
So the trick is to find the balance of foods you need to keep calories down while also incorporating foods you like to eat.
Because at the end of the day, fat loss is going to come from consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Pay Attention to How You Cook Your Foods
Keep eating the exact same foods but change one thing.
The way you’re preparing your food.
If you currently like to cook up that lean chicken breast in 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, consider swapping the oil for a zero calorie cooking spray.
Whenever we think about the foods we’re consuming, we have to keep total calories in mind.
Unless you’re factoring in the calories from the cooking oil, you could be consuming an extra 300-400 calories without even realizing it.
I like using coconut oil spray for cooking eggs, veggies, or meats in a pan because it saves hundred of calories.
Olive oil is a healthy fat, but also very calorically dense. Because of this, it’s really easy to add tons of calories to a seemingly low-calorie meal without even realizing it.
You can also bake, grill or broil foods to cut down on excess calories from fat.
Nothing better than firing up the grill and cooking up loads of protein for the week!
Use Calorie Cycling to Aid in Fat Loss
One of the best methods for creating a calorie deficit is to cycle your calories throughout the week. In the normal scenario, you’d eat more on higher volume training days, or higher activity days, and fewer calories on lighter activity or non-training days.
In this case here, we probably won’t be going to too many mid-week pool parties and cookouts.
Which means we’ll be grubbing a bit more on the weekend. This means higher calories and likely some alcohol as well.
So what can we do to stay in our calorie deficit over the scope of the entire week?
It’s actually pretty simple and something I’ve used with my clients with good success: we’ll reserve our higher calorie day(s) for the weekend when we’re going to be out and about at social events and just hanging out.
This doesn’t mean come weekend time you should just stuff yourself silly, but you will have a bit more leeway and a greater calorie amount you’re allotted.
There are numerous ways to set up the way you cycle your calories. You can do high, medium, or low-calorie days. You can do just high and low days.
Provided that you don’t go super overboard on the weekend, you should still be able to hit the deficit needed to lose fat.
Remember, it’s not one meal, one day, or one feast, but rather a culmination of days, weeks, and months that create fat loss.
If you’re consistent over time and you make the necessary adjustments, you will lose fat.