We know science has a role to play in shedding those last few pounds, but what can you do nutritionally to help your progress? Here are the top tips from FFA for hitting your targets.

Keep a food diary

Be honest and record what you are eating. measure your portions and be consistent.  By writing down what you are eating you will remain accountable to yourself and your goals.

Don’t eat until you are full

A bit of hunger in between meals is not a bad thing.  Often we mistake boredom or thirst for hunger. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours. You do not have to finish everything on your plate even though we are conditioned to do so.  Slow things down and eat until you are 80% full and without distractions so that eating is mindful.

Lose weight slowly

As a personal trainer, I would target a one- to two-pound per week loss. It is important to eat enough to fuel workout performance and recovery, and build muscle which will keep your metabolism functioning at optimum level. You should target a caloric deficit of 300–600 calories a day. Let’s say 500 calories deficit daily which could come from leaving out a snack such as a Mars bar which is about 250 calories and by adding half an hour of moderate exercise which roughly burns another 250 calories. So 500 calories each day for 7 days is 3500 calories which equates to a pound of fat. It is a start as what you burn is depending on factors about 35% coming of your fat stores. In most cases that is not working enough for you, so you might want to look at some other ideas which I have highlighted below.

Zigzag your calories

Zigzagging calories means eating more calories on some days and less on others to determine the number of calories which will work best for your goals. For example, if you have been eating a low-calorie diet you can assume you need to add calories. To find out how many, try increasing by about 400-500 calories. Eat that way 4 days per week while keeping calories where they are now on the others. Keep in mind that, as your fitness increases, so do your caloric needs, so if this stops working; it is probably time to go up even more.

Train easy after a longer fasting period

Adding some morning exercise on an empty stomach also improves fat mobilisation and is a good way to burn some extra calories and not negatively affect your hard training session of the day which is optimally done after 5pm. When you are looking to cut the last few pounds, this is effective, but be careful. Too much exercise, especially when your diet is lean on calories and for people over 40 years of age, can make you catabolic (burning muscle as well as fat) and that is something you don’t want.

Get enough protein

Protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss.  Eating a diet rich in protein helps reduce appetite and boost your metabolism. Studies have shown that a diet that includes plenty of lean protein such as fish, chicken, oats, quinoa and broccoli can help you lose weight, decrease stubborn fat and increase muscle health and strength. Protein also has the potential to change several weight-regulating hormones to maintain a healthy weight. The quantity of protein intake depends on factors such as activity level, weight, age but as a rough guide consume 1,5 x your body weight in grams so for an 80kg male this would mean 120 grams. Most bodies can absorb up to 30 grams each 3 hours so in this case 120 grams : 30 grams = 4 portions. One portion straight after exercise, one ideally first thing in the morning (unless you are about to exercise) and the other 2 during a normal meal.   

Don’t cut out carbohydrates

Strategic use of carbohydrates for fuel is vital for performance, and performance is how you gauge how your diet is working. While dramatically cutting down your carb consumption can be helpful, especially during the initial stages of weight loss be careful. Your brain alone needs about 150 grams of carbohydrates to function properly all day… Mainly reduce or cut out your starchy carbs such as bread, pizza and so on as these need to be earned if your body isn’t in the healthy body fat zone. A reduction to a consumption of  less than 100 grams of carbohydrates isn’t sustainable for most people. Carbs are the easiest source of body fuel so please ensure the balance is fine-tuned so it has enough fuel to train. If you still feel that your body isn’t fit enough to train very hard, increase frequency of exercise and watch total calorie intake. It is a mistake to cut carbs too much once you are fit. Carbs fuel both your muscles and your brain. They are also more muscle-sparing (slowing muscle breakdown) than either proteins or fats when you are training, so you need them so that you don’t go catabolic. That isn’t an invitation to try the All-Bread, Diet, however, since many carbs, particularly bread, pasta, and other starches, as well as added sugar, can add up quickly calorifically. Aim for somewhere in the 35-40% of your total calories, depending on your training, is best for this stage in your final battle against stubborn fat.

Don’t cut out fat

Dietary fat intake is believed to impact anabolic hormone levels — and that includes testosterone, a well-known performance enhancer. A safe range for dietary fat seems to be about 20-30% of your calories. But keep in mind that fats have more than double (9) the calories of proteins (4) and carbs (4), so keeping them at this level means your diet should focus on the healthiest choices such as oily fish, avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds.

Do cut out junk

Unfortunately there’s just no simple way to get your body to weigh less than it naturally wants to without some ‘sacrifice’ - and by sacrifice, I mean the usual suspects like added sugars, fried foods, alcohol, fizzy drinks, etc. Junk foods haven’t got much nutritional value or importance, except (arguably) for pleasure.

Ditch the caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and enhances your cortisol production.  If you need a stimulant to wake you up in the morning, you’re definitely not getting enough sleep and/or rest. If you are getting enough sleep but still have a hard time getting going in the morning without caffeine, try switching to green tea. It has about 1/4 the amount of caffeine than your regular cup of coffee (40 mg) and it also contains natural stimulants that helps boost your energy levels and fight fatigue. A regular cup of tea contains 30 mg of caffeine and as a guide do not exceed 120 mg of caffeine a day.

Stop stressing about those last few pounds so much

This advice isn’t intended to dissuade you from going for your goals. It is just there to offer some perspective. You don’t need to lose those last few pounds, you want to lose those last few pounds. So don’t stress about it because excess stress is the enemy of results. You will get there. Just be patient. Once you get there, enjoy your moment and then relax a little.

As always, if you need any further guidance please do not hesitate to contact me.