Most of the time when people decide they want to shed some pounds or gain some muscle they don’t know where to start. With all of the information out there we seem to see contradictory ideas every day. I will provide some tips on what the latest research suggests for weight loss and how I would implement it. Ultimately this as an experience and self-research driven opinion so take from it what you want if anything.

Find Out Where You’re At

The first step to transitioning to a new lifestyle of eating is to understand where you currently stand in terms of carbs, protein, fat and overall calories. What I suggest is to use a calorie logging app to log what you eat for a few days to have a rough idea of the average number of calories you intake. The cool thing about an app like MyFitnessPal is that it provides you with a breakdown of the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates you are intaking in your day.

MyFitnessPal Download Links:

Apple Device Download

Android Device Download

Devising The Plan

There are 3 different ways you can go about this depending on if you want to maintain, build muscle or lose fat. The number of calories that you come up with from the few days of logging is going to be important for this step. First of all you’re going to need to create a meal plan where you are reaching the same number of calories as what you are currently eating except the calories should be broken down as follows: Protein: 25%, Carbs: 40%, Fat: 35%. By doing this, you will immediately see results depending on how bad your diet was to start with.

The next step is to find out what your goal is. Below is a breakdown of the nutrients that I recommend for each goal:

Maintaining
  • 1.3 g of Protein per pound of body weight
  • 2.0 g of Carbs per pound of body weight
  • 0.7 g of Fat per pound of body weight
Building Muscle
  • 1.5 g of Protein per pound of body weight
  • 3.0 g of Carbs per pound of body weight
  • 0.6 g of Fat per pound of body weight
Losing Fat
  • 1.0 g of Protein per pound of body weight
  • 0.5 g of Protein per pound of body weight
  • 0.8 g of Fat per pound of body weight

The above breakdown is assuming that you are performing some kind of activity 4-6 times a week. Once you’ve determined where you fit, you’re going to make a second meal plan using the numbers that you calculate based on your body weight from above. Why use body weight to scale the numbers? This is because generally a persons metabolism burns at a given level based on the weight they are carrying around. To a certain extent, changes in the metabolism occur depending on if we eat more or less than what we burn in a day. This is the body’s adaptive mechanism at work (Impact of energy intake and exercise on resting metabolic rate). Now because the metabolism shifts based on how heavy you are and how much you’re consuming, you are going to need to take the first meal plan that you created (based on the number of calories you consume in your old way of eating) and slowly transition to this newly calculated plan. To do this, you will add or take away 100 calories worth of food each week until you reach the appropriate level.

Approved Foods

Protein is pretty straight forward. Pretty much any meat and a few dairy products. When it comes to carbs you want to include things that are high in fiber, as it is very good for your gut health. Treating your gut properly will allow you to digest things easier and absorb more nutrients. Unlike what most dietitians would tell you in the past about eating low fat to lose weight and be healthy, research is starting to show the opposite (Low-Carbohydrate Diets). That’s why these nutrient splits have higher levels of fat. Fat is essential for so many bodily functions (How Eating Fat Can Make You Smarter). In addition to all of this it is VERY important to get at least 1 fist size of green leafy vegetables into each meal. This will aid digestion, promote gut health and provide micronutrients.Water is also very important. One must consume at least 2L a day.

Protein

  • Eggs
  • Ground Beef
  • Steak
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Tofu
  • Meats in general
  • Protein bars or shakes only if required to reach goal
    • Preferably in the morning and/or after workout

Carbs

  • Whole wheat breads
  • Berries
  • Sweet Potato
  • White or Brown Rice
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Rolled Oats
  • Honey
  • Quinoa

Fats

  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Coconut Oil
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almonds
  • MCT Oil
  • Chia Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds

What’s important here is that you keep your breakfast very low carb yet high fat. You should try to consume carbs in three time slots only: Pre workout, Post Workout and Last meal of the day.

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Low carb breakfast example. Steak, 2 eggs, 2 slice of bacon, Spinach & MCT Oil. Steak isn’t necessary but this was a cheat meal. Usually the steak is instead half of an avocado.

If you are reducing your carb count, then you would remove the carbs from the pre workout time slot first. If you still require carb reduction, then you would remove the carbs from your last meal of the day. If you need to go even lower, then you go for your post workout carbs. Having certain carbs included in your last meal of the day can help improve your quality of sleep.

Obviously if you have such a high carb count requirement that you can’t squeeze it all into these 3 time slots then you will add them to other meals but you must ensure that you keep breakfast carb free. Aside from carbs, try to evenly disperse the other nutrients (protein & fat) throughout your meals. Being that this is a lower carb approach, your body may take time to adjust. This can take up to a week depending on how many carbs you’re consuming, along with a few other variable.Basically what is happening is that you are training your body to prefer stored fat as a fuel source rather than sugar/carbohydrates.

Things To Avoid At All Costs

REFINED SUGAR! The main culprit for weight gain is refined sugar. Things like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, etc. These have a negative impact on blood sugar among so many other things. Reducing the impact you have on your blood sugar will help you to stabilize your body composition and avoid a future full of disease. Here is a video that can open your eyes to the dangers of sugar:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sugar (HBO)

Try to limit vegetable oils as much as possible as well, since the traditional North American diet is very high in them. That means that things like deep fried foods need to be eliminated completely!

Eliminating anything processed, canned or packaged also helps. A good rule of thumb for recognizing whether it falls under this category is if you can’t understand 25-50% of the ingredient label.

Personally, I’ve started to look for organic foods for various health purposes. I won’t get into that in this article. This decision is totally up to you.

Alcohol is also a problem. The alcohol industry wants you to believe that alcohol can contribute to good health but its doubtful. Alcohol has a Caloric content of 7 Calories/gram (compared to Fat – 9 Cal/g, Protein – 4 Cal/g, Carb – 4 Cal/g). These 7 Cal/g contribute to nothing except a good time (which you pay for the next day)! That’s why they’re considered empty calories. The effects it has on your sleep and mood the following days is also not very helpful when trying to stay motivated and happy in life. I don’t mind drinking but I try to limit it to special occasions. Usually once every 2 weeks or not at all depending on if I’m on a strict diet.

Supplementation

I believe that supplementation can help in certain instances. It can help only if your diet is in order. The supplement that I currently see as beneficial for everyone is Fish Oil. Fish Oil supplies us with Omega-3 Fatty acids which have a long list of health benefits from fat loss to reduction in inflammation. They also help to combat the high levels of vegetable oil that we consume in our diets. Vegetable oils are high in Omega-6 Fatty acids and most sources in the nutrition world recommend a 1:1 ratio between Omega-6 and Omega-3.

Another supplement that I see as very beneficial is a good probiotic. Probiotics are live bacteria that help to populate your gut in order for you to better digest the foods that you eat. An example of this is with the digestion of lactose. Lactose requires an enzyme called lactase to be digested and our bodies rely on the good bacteria in our digestive system to help us with the process. Through unhealthy eating, we start to kill off these bacteria and mistake our inability to digest lactose for lactose intolerance. With a probiotic you can begin to repopulate your gut and get back on track. It’s really not about how much you eat, it’s about how much you absorb. Probiotics along with large amounts of green vegetables can allow you to improve digestion and absorption immensely.

In terms of vitamins, I’m starting to move away from multivitamins. Multivitamins are a one size fits all solution to something that differs in every person. The best thing to do is find out what you’re deficient in through blood tests and compensate through diet or pills.

I don’t really see protein powders or bars as essential unless you can’t reach a certain protein count. Keep in mind that these are my current opinions and they will most likely change over time.

Why So Complicated?

Unfortunately we no longer live in an age where we can eat whatever is around us and be confident that we will stay healthy. We are now surrounded by food that is destructing our health. In order to gain control over our mood and well being we need to be in full control of what we are putting into our bodies. I do not believe in magic fixes through supplements or antibiotics because I know that the human body has built in mechanisms to handle just about anything! It’s about knowing how to activate these mechanisms. Technology has gotten to the point where it is driven entirely by money. So many supplements are available although very little research has gone into them. These supplements may benefit a person in the short term but we are clueless as to what effect they would have in the long term. However, there are some supplements that may benefit us (ie. Fish oil) only because they can reverse the harm done from the unhealthy diet that we may consume throughout our life. Right now society is at risk of countless heart and brain related diseases to the point where it’s become an epidemic. People always say “I wanna eat what I enjoy, It’s not about the number of years you live but about the quality of the years that you do live.”. I’m starting to find out just how contradictory this statement really is. First of all, the more food you eat that you don’t like, the more your body will start to crave them. When you begin to eat more and more of these good foods, you begin to regenerate your guts live bacteria which has been show to reduce depression and anxiety (Gut–brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression). Therefore not only will good food make you live longer, it will leave you feeling good all the time (which is what people are expecting from unhealthy food). It’s a win win! Part of the reason that we crave sugar and its so addictive is that the bad bacteria in our gut actually thrives on it. These bacteria request it and make us feel sugar cravings. IT’S CRAZY!

Conclusion

Everything I’ve written about here is my take on things. I am not formally educated in the field but this is my passion. Please don’t take these things from me. If you find interest in the topics that I discuss research it for yourself. I would love to hear what you think. Do you disagree with me? Do you have any questions? If so please email me at aelbanna95@gmail.com. All I want is to learn more, so contradictory ideas may spark new thoughts. I apologize for my poor grammar and poor citations. Still figuring out how to cite things properly .

The increases in energy and mood that you will see from implementing this will go a long way in all aspects of your life. However, like any diet program out there, it may not work for everyone. If you are one of the rare few that gains fat very quickly on this plan then please stop immediately and consult with your physician about what may be best for you.

Published by Alaa Allen Elbanna