Do I need to track my food? Can I eat more fat? Do you recommend portion control? What to do if I had a few bad days? How do I get a stronger willpower?
After years of coaching family, friends, and the clients, these are possibly the questions I face most as a nutrition coach on a daily basis. As a person who overcame carb and sugar addiction in the past AND also as a primal health coach, of course, I have plenty to say on the topic. Please take into account that these are MY professional opinions based on my coaching style, knowledge, and personality. I keep an open mind, and believe there are only a few things that are “wrong”…otherwise it’s pretty individual.
I’ve structured this post as a Q&A for the easiness and fun of reading.
Calories, Macros, Portion control, and Goals
Do I need to count calories when I am trying to lose weight?
Yes and no. Let me explain.
You probably know that to lose weight you need a caloric deficit. Especially, if you are trying to lose calories the “traditional” way (Weight watchers, portion size, reduce salt, limit desserts etc.). You WILL lose weight (unless you have serious issues with metabolism or other medical conditions IF you have 10-15% caloric deficit. Remember: you will need plenty of water to hydrate, remove the toxins, and help your body to burn fat. You can eat whatever your soul desires as long as you stay in deficit. But why would you? The weight loss is MOST likely will be temporary because calorie counting is annoying, tedious, and boring. What to do?
If you don’t want to be obsessing about calories, and your health matters to you more – you need to focus on QUALITY of foods, not the caloric numbers. You can still reach the number on the scale you want, and you will set a strong healthy base for your long-term weight loss success if you focus on what you eat. As a big proponent of low-carb, Primal, and Keto approaches for pain-free, fast, and sustainable fat loss, I highly recommended them! Check out this article to learn more about how they work here and here.
Do I need to calculate my macros to lose weight?
First of all, to accelerate fat burning you need to find the equation that works for you best. Everything we eat can be broken down into just a few categories; carbs, fats, proteins. The scale of these is how we focus on losing weight, gaining muscle, working on more energy, or leaning out.Finding something that works for you is essential. Initially, I’d think setting macros is important for tracking your food for 2-3 weeks. You can’t really set a goal if you have no idea what is involved in a race. If you are one of the people who have no idea about what kind of macros/nutrients/calories and stuff makes up an egg or avocado, you might be deviating from a good efficient path of weight loss. If you tried logging your food before, have experience with estimating calories/nutrients, and know your way around in terms of what contains what, I’d say generalize it and eat the food groups the following, easy way:
Macros-free approach to weight loss:
- Eat good protein with every meal (eggs, fowl, poultry, fish, meat)
- Avoid sugar, gluten, grains, industrial oils at any rate
- Eat plenty of green, non-starchy vegetables daily with most of your meals.
- Eat raw and fermented dairy, some berries, nuts, and seeds; limit fruit.
- Eat plenty of healthy fats (eggs, avocados, coconut products, olive, avocado oils, macadamia nuts etc.). Get your healthy oils guide here.
You will need to get used to the new balance of things – veggies should dominate on your plate, protein can be consumed in good amounts (fist size +), and the rest of your macros can be FAT (that’s right, bacon is good for ya – all things with some moderation though).
This equation is great for people who are at the very beginning stages of fat loss. Plenty of water, electrolytes, and low heart-rate exercise will help you manifest your perfect body fast enough!
If you were building muscle, for example, you will need to be a bit more precise to achieve this goal – track your protein, workouts, etc. and then when you are ready to get “shredded”, track again to make sure you are losing fat, not the precious muscle mass you worked so hard for.
Take this as a general prescription…but the answer is. No, you don’t have to obsess about the macros once you have the status quo figured out.
What about portion control?
Portion control can work. It works for people every day, but it really is one of the hardest methods for weight loss and often has a very high failure rate. It is hard for most people to feel like they are starving or lacking all the time. It is why it is so critical to change your habits about food and not just the quantities you eat. Before long anyone can justify eating a slice of cake as long as they skip dinner or run a few miles on a treadmill.
As a slippery slope it grows, I can just add an extra biscuit or a little extra gravy. One piece of bacon, and then the portion control is gone and it is either ignored or the portions have new sizes that can cope with your wants and desires. The scary fact is your fat cells never go away. They shrink or they grow, but as soon as you go back to how you were eating before all changes fail. It doesn’t matter the name of the diet, or how badly you want to change.
If you are eating properly, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, everything I have been talking about and you still don’t feel healthy, there may be other issues. Maybe you need to move more, or maybe you aren’t eating enough. That’s why I am here to work with you. Portion control is an option after all the healthy habits have been established.
I’ve been doing great with my weight loss, and suddenly lost motivation. I am in a rut and not sure how to get back on track.
If this happened to you for the first time, you may just lose control for a bit. Revisit your initial goal, and see what is blocking you from getting back on track.
Is it lack of motivation? Reevaluate your goal. Did you just want to lose the pounds? Are you looking for more happiness strongly attached to the number on the scale? Did you want to gain something else – more joy, more confidence, more self-control? Then you might have picked a wrong goal pursuing the number on the scale.
Most women heavily depend on external motivation ( “he will love me more”, “ I will meet my prince then”, “ I will love myself more”, “I will prove my parents I can” etc.). It is short-lived, and unfortunately, not sustainable. What to do?
Do it for you. Find the reason to GAIN the health (and lose weight along the way) just for you. For your inner peace, for being able to do more, run better, have more energy, feel good daily.
Any time you do it for any other reason than LOVING yourself more NOW and FOR EVER, and any of your weight loss attempts fail (possibly, not right away).
The conclusion is…Always, always look into the underlying matter. What’s your weight loss aspiration and end goal?
If the slip-up isn’t your first one, you may need to work some mindset issues out before jumping in again. More on this in part 2!
To be continued…
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.