Pella Chronicle

May 4, 2012

Three nutrition keys to start losing weight

Barry Westerkamp
Pella Anytime Fitness

Pella — When it comes to fitness, exercise is only half of the equation.  As a matter of fact, if your goal is fat loss, exercise is really only about 20 percent of the equation.  I tell my clients that losing fat comes down to 80 percent nutrition.  That’s right – 80 percent!  So if you’ve started an exercise program to lose weight and you aren’t seeing results, chances are you probably need to put a larger emphasis on your eating habits.

There are three specific aspects of your nutrition that you want to consider if you are trying to lose weight – 1) Quantity 2) Quality 3) Timing.  The first aspect you need to address is the total amount of calories you consume.  Most weight loss programs will state that in order to lose weight you have to eat fewer calories than what you burn off.  However, that traditional line of thinking is somewhat flawed.  Yes, you need to eat fewer calories to lose weight.  You certainly won’t see the fat come off if you are eating more.  But fewer calories in essence lowers your metabolism.  For fat loss, that’s not good!  So if you are trying to lose weight and you are exercising (which raises metabolism) and also eating less (which lowers metabolism), does that make sense?

Some calorie-restrictive programs go so far to lower your calorie intake to 1,000 or less.  I’ve heard some to go as low as 500 per day!  Starving yourself is not a recipe for fat loss because once you get tired of being hungry all day you will go back to eating more, so why not just start eating right in the first place?  Plus, when you are losing pounds on the scale, most of that will be a drop in lean muscle.  That’s not effective either because by losing muscle you are once again bringing your metabolism to a screeching halt.  So the goal is to find your sweet spot where you are exercising to raise metabolism, but not cutting back on your calories so drastically that it significantly lowers your metabolism.  But at the end of the day you still need to eat less.

So how do you eat less without slowing down your metabolism?  Well let me be the first to state the obvious - not all calories are created equal.  The quality of your calories is imperative to keep your metabolism from passing out on the floor.  By eating the right foods, you will provide your body with the healthy vitamins and minerals that it needs.  Plus, you’ll feel like you can eat a lot more if the quality is higher.  Healthier foods have fewer calories but come loaded with nutrients.  So if you are eating less, make sure what you eat is high in quality like lean proteins, fruits and vegetables.

High quality foods are also not processed.  Beware of weight loss programs or diets that recommend you drink their processed shakes or eat their processed bars as meals.  Instead, focus on eating food that is natural and unprocessed.  A weight loss program that has you eating or drinking processed foods while restricting real foods defies common sense.

So far we’ve determined that for best fat loss results, we need to eat fewer calories, but not starve ourselves so it slows down our metabolism.  And we also know that if we’re eating less, we need to make sure we’re eating foods that pack a nutrient punch.  The last area we need to address is the time of day we’re eating those calories and the timing for eating certain macronutrients.

Research shows that if you are trying to lose weight, those who eat breakfast get better results than those who don’t.  So starting your day off with a healthy meal is imperative to jumpstarting your metabolism and giving your body the energy it needs.  Your post-workout nutrition is also a prime time to feed your body.  The two best times to give your body carbohydrates is first thing in the morning and right after a workout because your body needs the most energy at those times of day.

If you want to get serious about dropping a few pounds and shedding some unwanted body fat, pay attention to how much you eat, what you eat and when you eat it.  Obviously exercise is important, but nutrition holds the key to your success.  However, I give you permission to start after Tulip Time!