7 Simple Steps…

A short and sweet list of things that are actually worth concerning yourself with when aiming to improve and maintain your body composition.
By now I hope you’re coming to terms with the fact the 90% of a successful diet comes down the energy balance equation. When we understand that it cuts out a very large portion of extraneous noise from the likes of people telling us we need to stick butter in our coffee in order to lose weight…..I know….I know.

With that in mind, if there was only one single thing you could manage or track it would be calories, that is in terms of energy balance, whether you track by numbers or portions or just by feel, adhering to that main principle has you taking care of the most important factor.

So, you decided you want to trim up a little, get some lines and create some shadows and like a wise little dieter you have reduced your energy intake to stimulate fat loss and show off those muscles.
While your first reduction of energy intake may drop by around 15%, at some point the gap between your body’s energy intake and output closes as you lose weight and subsequently you hit the plateau and weight loss stalls.

So as you continue on your diet, how do you ensure you are progressing rather than regressing?

1 – Eat as much as you can while still losing weight. (please don’t just read “eat as much as you can”) What I mean is don’t start too low. Start your diet on as much food as you can while still losing weight, otherwise you can quickly bottom out leaving no room to manoeuvre when you hit a plateau. So don’t hack your calories in half thinking “if less calories will cause weight loss then even less calories is surely better”, it won’t be if you can only last 2 weeks into your diet.
2 –Be the tourtoise not the hare – slowly does it, don’t panic when you don’t lose weight. Don’t go and deprive yourself further unnecessarily, be patient and try holding on for another month, you might just get a whoosh, when the time comes to drop, do it in small 5% increments.
3 – Take a back off week – a bit like a de-load week when training, if you have been dieting for a while and hit a plateau, instead of dropping more cals or adding in more cardio, try taking a week or two off and then begin your diet again.

4 – Hit the weights – this helps to guard against too much muscle loss. The more muscle you can hold onto the easier fat loss is.
 
5 – Prioritise protein – when dieting you’re going to lose mass, both from muscle and fat. Keeping your protein intake up helps minimise the muscle loss as much as we can, but don’t over do it, about 40% of total calories is likely more than enough while still allowing cals from carbs and fats.
6 – Don’t get Hangry! – pay attention to the calorie density of foods – as food intake drops a wise option is swapping small calorie dense foods for volume foods of equivalent energy but vastly more total mass. see below.
7 – Weigh yourself regularly – some don’t agree, but when you understand just how variable weight is on a daily basis it makes more sense to weigh yourself daily rather than monthly. Track your weight daily first thing in the morning and average it out over the week. The trend one way or another is what you’re looking for, not a random spike up or down. The easiest way to do this is to set yourself a spreadsheet up and track your moving average.

A rough interpretation of 2 weeks daily weight tracking, the green lines individual spikes don’t hold much meaning against the 7 day average.

Rounding up;
Those are some simple, non negotiable principles you need to take care of.
Get very good at the few necessary things rather than half doing things that don’g get you results.
Dan