It’s day three of the Muscle Poppin’, Weight Droppin’ challenge!
I thought it was about time I explain my approach to exercise and eating plan in greater detail to give you an idea of how we are going about our 90 day challenge.
Weight loss (and optimal health) starts first and foremost in the kitchen! You can work out all you want but if your diet doesn’t support fat loss.. well you simply aren’t going to lose fat.
The key to starting any new eating regimen is food prep. Every week Faith and I prep meals (mostly protein and veggies!) for the week to ensure that we have healthy food on hand so we don’t make desperate choices (or spend extra money buying food out).
Our fridge looks something like this on food-prep-Sundays:
What you see here is a combination of:
- Lean ground turkey (use in omelettes, stir frys, on the side, as a snack)
- Turkey bacon (used in omelettes, snack, stir frys)
- Baked tilapia
- Eggs (boiled, in salads, fried, as omelettes, poached on top of stir frys)
- Lean beef meat balls
Fruit and Veggies
- Spinach (goes in everything – shakes, stir frys, omelettes, salads)
- Raw veggies chopped for easy snacking (peppers, broccoli, cauliflower)
- Kale salad prepared
- Baked kabotcha squash (nothing added but water!)
- Almond butter (I’m addicted and working to eliminate completely.. but good in moderation!)
- Healthy oils (flax, coconut, MCT oil)
- Almond butter (trying to ween myself off of it!)
Other than that, I drink lots of water, black coffee and protein shakes (Visalus protein and meal replacement). I’m trying not to snack very often, but making sure I eat every 3-5 hours.
I avoid anything processed and anything that contains more than a handful of ingredients. If I can’t pronounce it – it’s not optimal food. If it has sugar and/or wheat – I avoid completely. And, I’ve cut milk, yogurt and mostly all dairy products.
Most people don’t realize that many foods you think are going to help you achieve fat loss, are actually not optimal choices at all. Here are a few “healthy weight loss food” myths:
- Low-fat yogurt – how many ingredients are on the label? TOO MANY. If it needs to be preserved or have added chemicals, it’s not worth it.
- Skim milk – Do you ever wonder why so many people are lactose intolerant? Our bodies weren’t designed to digest milk from another species. Enough said.
- Whole-wheat bread – before the industrial revolution of mass agriculture food production, humans did not consume nearly as much wheat and especially not the genetically modified wheat we find on the grocery store shelves. The chemical make up of today’s wheat is incomparable to that of our ancestors, and therefore, cannot be optimally broken down by the body. In fact, it’s been proven to cause illness and disease. Want to learn more? Read here.
- High-sugar fruits – fruit is good for you, don’t get me wrong, but fruit is also high in natural glucose. Glucose is needed for energy – but if not used immediately for energy, is converted to fat and is stored in the body. The bad news is, once glucose turned into fat, it cannot turn back into glucose for your body to burn for energy.. thus it stays as fat. Check out this article to read more about this process.
- Anything “low calorie” or “low fat” – these foods are gimics to “drop weight” and make you think you are fueling your body optimally. They aren’t. They are processes, chemically modified and often stripped of all nutrients. Basically you’re being tricked into thinking eating
cardboard rice cakes is actually good for you.
I’m not saying these foods won’t help you lose weight, because they just might. I’m sharing the knowledge I’ve gained from nutrition experts on how to rid excess body fat by fueling it properly and restoring your health. I also believe in everything in moderation. If you eat many of these foods on a regular basis, try eliminating one at a time. You need to remember it’s a gradual progress and there’s no need to change everything drastically all at once. Clean, whole, natural foods are the way to go.
To give you an example, today’s meals looked a little something like this:
Breakfast (after my metabolic interval training at Element Athletic) was kabotcha squash and three boiled eggs.
Lunch was a kale salad (kale, chopped walnuts, diced apple, chopped broccoli, 1/2 avocado) with baked tilapia and drizzled with one teaspoon of flax oil.
Dinner was a two egg (plus egg whites) omelette with turkey bacon, turkey, goat cheese and spinach. Served with 1/2 avocado and organic (meaning no preservative of sugar added) salsa.
All of this, except for the omelette was pre-cooked and ready to go.
Seems logical right? So why do people find it so difficult to implement? We are stuck in a society who places convenience and price before nutrition and logic. You wouldn’t put windshield washer fluid in your gas tank and expect that your car will run properly would you? The same goes for what you put in your body. It wasn’t designed to process certain foods including processed carbs, most gluten and even dairy – and especially not genetically modified foods – so why do you think it’s not acting like you want it to?
Optimal health starts first and foremost in your diet.
The second step is proper exercise. It’s difficult for most people to know the proper way to train for fat loss because there is SO much information out there telling us “strength training is better than cardio” and equally as much out there saying “cardio burns more calories so therefore it’s better than strength training” – so which is it?!
I used to think that cardio was the quick solution to fat loss so I took up running.. and just ran my second half marathon. I figured the more you work at it, the more calories you burn and therefore the more fat you will lose.. right? Wrong.
I was talking to Dave, a friend of mine from Element Athletic, about my fat loss struggles and he told me stop running and get my butt (pun intended) back to weight training. Cardio is good to reduce mass, but it won’t help in continuous fat burning. Muscle burns more energy (or calories) at a resting state than fat. People who strength train have more lean muscle mass, thus they burn more energy throughout the day. People who strictly do cardio don’t get this “after-burn” effect and lose out on that extra calorie burning that their strength training friends get to experience.
He then explained the fat loss process simply through a gas-burning car analogy: Imagine a Volkswagen bug and a hummer driving around the city. You told the person driving the bug to coast around at a normal speed not stopping at any lights (ie. jogging or sitting on a stationary bike) and the hummer to gun it between each stop light and when it turns red, come to a complete stop, turn off the engine and turn it back on after the light turns green (HIIT or high intensity interval training).
Result: the bug obviously burned less gas and while going the same distance, required less gas (ie. energy) to get there. The hummer, which already burns lots of gas as is (ie. muscular body), used a burst of energy for a short period of time before coming to a complete stop for a short amount of time before re-firing the engine and gunning it again (HIIT). Which method burns more gas (energy) – obviously the hummer.
His analogy only solidified what I’ve believed all along. Not only that, but we all know people are busy. We all lead hectic lives which unfortunately makes health and proper nutrition difficult. The best part about interval strength training and conditioning is quick, easy to learn, builds muscle and burns a hell of a lot of calories!
(I’ll explain more about the benefits of HIIT and the “after-burn effect” in an upcoming post.)
Still here? Whew! I hope you gained some insight into what parts of your diet or exercise routine might need a little tweaking to get you over that weight loss hump. After years of self-education and consulting with experts in varying fields, I believe this is the optimal way to achieve fat loss and will continue to post insight, learnings and progress along the way.
Have a question about anything you read in this post – please feel free to ask away!
I leave you with a quote that always helps me stay accountable and focus on my goals: