12 Essential Fat Loss Tips
Complex Carbohydrates. Every meal should have complex carbohydrates [CHO] (i.e. kumara, rice, oats, etc.), quality lean protein (i.e. chicken breast, fish, tuna, salmon, lean beef, egg whites, etc.), and fibrous complex carbohydrates (i.e. vegetables, green ones in particular).
Do NOT avoid fat (except Saturated fat and Trans fats). You need fat in your diet, as fat plays major roles in energy metabolism and other parts of your body (Wardlaw & Hampl, 2007). Make sure to have at least 30-60 grams of good fats (i.e. flaxseeds or flax seed oil, fish oils, peanut butter, nuts – especially almonds and walnuts, hemp seed oil, olive oil, etc.) per day (i.e. this is ~2 tbsp of flaxseed oil or peanut butter) or 15-30% of your daily energy intake (Lambert, Frank & Evans, 2004).
Do NOT avoid complex carbohydrates. You NEED at least 50-100 grams of complex carbohydrates per day for your body to burn fat effectively and to provide the energy requirements of your brain and central nervous system (Wardlaw & Hampl, 2007). A good guideline is to have at least 1 gram of CHO per kg of body mass per day as a MINIMUM (Burke, 2006).
No Extra Sugar. The only sugar needed on a regular basis is the natural sugar found in food; these are mostly found in fruit. Too much sugar plays havoc with insulin levels; you want these as stable as possible throughout the day. The best time to be having sugar is straight after a resistance workout, when the body is trying to replenish muscle glycogen stores (Burke, 2006).
Therefore, make sure that you have a protein shake with some simple sugar (i.e. fruit smoothie with ice and protein powder is great here) as soon as possible after your resistance training (Lambert, et al., 2004; Tarnopolsky, 2006), and then a proper meal (i.e. including ~50 grams of complex CHO, ~30 grams of protein, fibrous CHO) about 30 minutes after your post-workout shake.
Eat Enough Protein. Consume adequate protein, to prevent muscle loss and maintain a relatively high thermic effect (Lambert, et al., 2004). Depending on your level of activity and sex, it is recommended to have between 0.8-1.7 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight per day, with females requiring ~15% less protein than their male counterparts (Tarnopolsky, 2006), or 25-30% of your daily energy intake provided by protein for muscle sparing effects (Farnsworth, Luscombe & Noakes, Wittert, Argyiou & Clifton, 2003).
2 Servings of Dairy. It has been proven that two servings of dairy per day help you lose more fat than if you avoid it altogether (DiSilvestro, 2007).
Drink Enough Water. At a minimum your body requires 2.2-3.0 liters of water per day to cover its water needs. For those with higher energy outputs (Wardlaw & Hampl, 2007), good recommendation is to drink 4.5 liters (i.e. a gallon) of water per day. This will help keep your system clean.
Do not drink tea or coffee. Try drinking GREEN tea instead; it helps with thermogenesis, and is especially good if you take it one hour before doing cardio first thing in the morning.
Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol has no nutritional value and is full of calories (Wardlaw & Hampl, 2007).
Cut Down on Salt. Minimize salt addition to food. Instead, flavor meals with herbs and spices (i.e. ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, curry powder, chili powder, and garlic all help thermogenesis).
Eat Natural. Eat most food as ‘natural’ as possible. This means fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, grains, etc. Try not to eat too much packaged food, as it is full of extra calories and sugar (Wardlaw & Hampl, 2007).
It’s OK to Cheat. Most importantly, remember that it is ok to cheat every now and then. Actually the body needs cheat meals. By throwing all the guidelines just mentioned out of the way and having a day where you eat what you want it helps not only your mind, but also in preventing your body from going into starvation mode (i.e. where the body battles you to hold onto the fat as much as it can).
If you prefer not to ‘cheat’, then add in 1-2 higher calorie days (i.e. go up to just above Maintenance, or Bulking, or even slightly higher), with the extra calories coming from quality complex cholesterol.