Lets should start with context, I feel personally that the best looking and ultimately healthier physique will come from a combination of both diet AND exercise. I’m currently reading Gaesser’s 2002 book: Big Fat Lies and one of his thesis’ is that it is actually being sedentary rather the bodyfat that truly accounts for metabolic syndrome. Right or wrong, I think this is in a sense an obviously compelling thesis, even if we don’t go so far as he does. I believe exercise to be a beneficial component to any weight management strategy, while potentially not being necessary. And with that context any weight management program I devise will have, at its core, exercise, not because it is necessarily the most important thing, but more because I think it is often overlooked. And when I talk of exercise I mean, where possible, intense exercise – with weights and cardio (weights 2-3 times per week/ interval training 2 times/week).
With that context set what about diet? Well, I think the starting place has to be with some kind of caloric measurement and observation, at what level is really up to you, but if you think you can get by without observing what you’re putting into your body at all, well I liken that to not managing your finances, or dental hygeine etc. These things needs to be monitored, to what degree you decide. I advise clients to download MyFitnessPal for their smart phones, it’s free and its relatively easy to use. It can be as involved as you want it to be, and tracks everything from weight, to bodyfat, to food, to calories, to changes in body shape, to exercise. I don’t see why you would need anything more than this app for diet. Having said that, how do you use it? Firstly, start at the home screen and select “more” (highlighted in red) and you’ll end up at this screen:
Here you’ll add your current bodyweight, your goal bodyweight, how much weight you want to lose per week and your activity level (in the area highlighted black). I would recommend setting your weekly goal to be a loss of 0.5kg/week. This will keep your calories at a manageable level (- 500/day off maintenance), and will get you to the 3,500 calorie a week deficit which will be more than enough for fat loss. Now, some argue the accuracy of 3,500cal deficit/week as it used to be used because it is supposed this is how much energy one pound of fat yields. While this may not be accurate (due to hormonal and individual differences) it gives us a good basis for a reduction and management of calories without dropping too low. Regarding your activity level you’ll have the choice of sedentary, lightly active, active, very active. This is the best explanation I’ve found for it:
The Activity Level factors MFP uses are based on statistics for average people, not athletes or someone bedridden. The higher your BMR, the more cals Activity Level adds. Also, the higher your LBM (lean body mass – how much muscle you have), the higher Activity Level factor you need, to account for more calories burned even when at rest. This is where many lean, reasonably muscular people err, as they don’t compensate for higher muscle mass. If you choose the wrong Activity Level setting, you may be eating too much or too little.
Sedentary: Adds about 250-500 cals/day for most people. Appropriate for: Those who work at a desk job AND are sedentary at home, with light or no exercise and low LBM; Usually NOT appropriate for stay-at-home moms/dads with young children.
Lightly Active: Adds 450-700. Appropriate for: Most people with young children, who are otherwise sedentary; Many who have a desk job but exercise moderately and have a moderate LBM%; Those who stand a lot at work, but don’t really walk around a lot or lift heavy items, etc.
Active: Adds 700-1000. Appropriate for those who have an active job (some nurses, waitresses, laborers, etc) and exercise moderately-frequently, and especially those who have a high LBM%.
Very Active: Adds 950-1400. Appropriate for those who have a very active job (trainers, some laborers, some athletes, some warehouse workers), and exercise frequently and have a high or very high LBM%. (Ladyhawk, 2011)
Once you have added this select “calorie and macronutrient goals” (highlighted in red) which will bring you to this screen:select any macronutrient (carb, fat or protein) and you’ll end up at this screen:
Make sure you change your carbs to 40% of total cals, protein to 35% and fat to 25% equally a total of 100% calories accounted for. The protein is higher than your standard amount to aid in satiety and also to aid in the promotion and maintenance of muscle mass and where possible assist in reducing the loss of such. The carbs are still high enough to energize you for hard workouts and alertness with fat being low enough but also within healthy ranges. Obviously the stricter you are in achieving your caloric and macro targets the better your results. But, for the best results, do not go over your sugar and fat targets, protein and carbs you can go over where applicable (allow this policy to influence your junk food, or cheating habits). If your bodyfat percentage is on the higher end (over 25% for a male and 30% for a girl), you’ll want to reduce your carb intake slightly and increase your fat so your ratios will look like this: 30% of total cals, protein to 35% and fat to 35%
This may seem stringent, but it need not be, and its a good way to see just how bad your eating habits are. Use this method to correct them, or at the very least be aware of them and let this become a new dietary habit for you.
Setting calories and macros are the first 2 most important steps in the dietary strategy for fat loss. Without doing these, success with be limited, perhaps impossible.
I could probably add in how to use the food search engine in the app too, how to create meals, save them and recall them, but lets do that next time.
Activity Level and Logging Exercise: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/ladyhawk00/view/activity-level-and-logging-exercise-125513