On Monday we determined how many calories you should eat to start losing weight. If you missed that lesson you can view it here.
Today we’re going to figure out what we should do with those calories. Because despite what you might have heard, all calories are not created equal.
After all, we don’t eat calories – we eat food. And different foods impact our behaviors, satisfaction, adherence, and results.
First you’re going to get some fat, carb, and protein guidelines to follow. Then you’re going to learn what foods you should be eating to optimize your chances of success. Finally, I’m going to show you a very simple and effective way to put it all together.
Your Macros Guidelines (Fat, Carbs, and Protein)
If you didn’t know, “macros” is short for macronutrients. And the 3 main macronutrients are fat, carbs, and protein.
Those macros are what make up your calorie intake and influence your ability to build muscle, recover, be satisfied, and adhere to your healthy eating habits.
I like to see people work in ranges. There’s more flexibility with your eating. And flexibility leads to better adherence.
The guidelines I use with clients are…
- Fat: 20-30% of total calories
- Carbs: 30-50% of total calories
- Protein: 20-30% of total calories
If your numbers are falling within those ranges and you’re hitting your overall calorie goals, you’re going to be really happy with your results.
What you’re going for here is consistency over time. That way you can make effective adjustments to your eating for continued progress.
You adjust consistency – not calories. So work on consistency first so that you have a baseline to adjust from.
Your Food Quality Guidelines (Whole Foods and Fun Foods)
Now that you have some guidelines to follow it’s time to start planning your meals. And then you’ll likely make the same mistake everyone else does – filling your diet with nothing but whole foods.
At first thought you might be wondering why that’s a bad thing. Isn’t it good to eat healthy?
Absolutely, and yes, a 100% whole foods diet is definitely healthy. The caveat? It’s only healthy if you stick with it for the long term.
From my experience, a 100% whole foods diet is unrealistic for most people. Of the 1,000+ clients I’ve coached, I can only think of a dozen or so who consistently ate nothing but whole foods for long time.
In reality, trying to eat perfectly unknowingly creates a failure mindset. The moment you mess up and eat a “fun food”, you think you failed. And that mindset creates a negative feedback cycle.
The guidelines I use with clients are…
- Whole Foods: at least 80% of total calories
- Fun Foods: no more than 20% of total calories
- Servings of Fruits & Veggies: a minimum of 2 of each per day
If you fill your meal plan with the guidelines below you’re going to find your satisfaction is higher, your cravings are lower, and your consistency and adherence will be dramatically improved.
That’s what leads to transformation.
Simplifying the Process
Through a lot of trail and error I’ve found where to focus your energy to get you the most bang for your buck. It’s unrealistic and tedious to have to work with so many numbers. It’s also unnecessary.
Here’s all you need to focus on…
- Total Calories
- Protein Grams
- Servings of Fruits & Veggies
That’s it. Consistently track and hit those 3 goals and you’ll be amazed at how great you do.
Each of those goals positively influences many smaller goals. So by focusing on the “main ideas” of your nutrition, you can streamline the entire process and make things much easier on you.
By tracking total calories you take care of food quantity. By tracking protein and fruit/veggie servings you take care of food quality.
Let your fat and carbs fall where they naturally do based on the foods you prefer. Some people like fattier foods while other like carbs.
If you hit your 3 main goals (calories, protein, fruit/veggies) and don’t purposefully get extreme with your fat or carb ratios, you’re going to find the kind of eating balance that drives transformation.
Now that you know how many calories to eat and what you should be doing with those calories, you’re going to want to know what to do when progress slows or stalls completely.
And on Friday that’s exactly what we’re going to figure out.
As you start losing weight your metabolism will slow. In time, your initial energy deficit diminishes and your weight loss slows.
What you do at that point is key to your success. Just about everyone does the wrong thing.
So be sure to keep an eye on your inbox Friday for the final lesson.