So I’ve said in a previous article that calories didn’t matter as much as WHAT you were actually eating. Which stays true.
There is an undoubtable benefit to eating mainly vegetables, nuts, good fats and protein, and having a little carbohydrates here and there, mainly as starches and fruit. And yes, when you do that what will happen will be fat loss, mainly because :
- Your nutrient intake (vitamins, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, and minerals – see article on the subject) will go up substantially, increasing the satisfaction of your meals.
- Your sugar intake goes down, and breaks the dopamine loop responsable for your cravings.
- You will become more insulin sensitive, and therefore release less insulin, burning more fat.
- Your appetite will be lessened because as you run partly on your reserves, you need to eat less.
Once you get to a body fat percentage you want, then you can start reintroducing carbohydrate loading days, where you have much more carbohydrates than on other days. This is actually beneficial, and seems rational if you think of our hunter gatherer selves that would go for a while without any carbs and when they come across a source of high carbs just going all out and binging on the stuff.
Well what will happen is you’ll get to a stage where you aren’t losing any weight, or fat anymore on this diet. I’ll attribute this phenomenon to two main factors :
- You are eating more fats because you’ve stopped fearing them. You saw you lost weight eating them, so now you just throw them all over the place happily. Which is good. But in moderation.
- You have arrived at the weight where the diet you’ve been following allows a perfect calorie balance.
And yes, they are both calorie dependant.
Once you reach this plateau, if you still haven’t reached your goal, here is what you must do :
- Download My Fitness Pal or any other calorie tracking Apps. They will help you figure out how many calories you should eating daily.
- Buy a kitchen scale.
- Start counting you calories, even roughly.
- Record your exercice and steps and add them in. You can choose to eat as if you didn’t spend your calories, but you put yourself at risk of developing cravings by doing so. your call.
Why is this important? Because as you get closer to you goal, things get much more difficult. Your body doesn’t really like being below 15-20% body fat. That means that whatever you do, your body will find ways to make you eat more.
This was my big issue. Two years ago I was sure I was doing everything right. I was training 3 to 4 times a week, having bulletproof coffee for breakfast, eating protein and vegetables, great fats that I painstakingly went to buy at local and organic shops. I was careful not to cook things too hot, taking the right supplements… But on some days I would get these cravings either around 11am or around 7pm… And sometimes I would win the mental battle, sometimes the cravings would just take over and I would eat crazy amounts of junk food.
So I was telling myself that I was tired and decision fatigued. That I had to cut decisions out of my life, do less and focus on what was important. Still wasn’t working.
I thought I was going mad. I was eating the right things and I just couldn’t help myself. You know what it was? I was just not eating enough food. I was pulling on the cord that had to snap at some point, and it materialised in massive cravings that made me binge eat the missing calories.
Now, I am shedding fat and putting muscle mass on. I have enough calories to be alert and energised, produce muscle, put weight ON, and every week I am seeing more and more muscle definition.
So eat right. Once you are near the goal, count your calories, count your steps and exercices. Eat 200 calories less than you need every day, and see your muscles gains and fat loss increase weekly.
Take it easy.