How to plan your meals

Personal trainers – who is guilty of giving our calorie and macronutrient guidelines with little else?

Are you giving much instruction on how to structure meals and daily food intake in order to hit these numbers?

I’ts very easy to forget the learning curve everyone needs to go through and assume people know how to plan their meals and hit their macronutrient goals already. For many this is all very new and can be very overwhelming.
(another reason people prefer to go to weight watchers or simply cut out carbs or go low fat – it is easier – at least initially)

We know that the hierachy of importance goes:

Calories Protein carbs:fat

calories and protein are our most important targets. As such, these should be at the forefront when setting up our daily food intake.

I find the best way to do this is to structure your meals around which protein source you are having at each.

Then add fruit and veg..

This gives you the ‘skeleton’ of your food intake and might look something like this:

Spinach and tomatoes

Lettuce, sweetcorn, cucumber, carrots

Greek yoghurt

Broccoli and green beans

Then check overall calories – with the remainder of your calories pad your meals out with carbs (e.g. toast at breakfast, wrap at lunch, cous cous at dinner) or add some fats (e.g. nuts to yoghurt, oil for cooking, mayo or dressing) then allow yourself calories for tea/coffee and maybe bit of something you enjoy like chocolate or ice cream.

Remember that giving out macros and just saying ‘hit those and you’ll lose weight’ isn’t very helpful to most!

I have a few clients who I can just allocate macros to but these clients mainly use me for structure, accountability and an objective eye. The vast majority of clients need a little more guidance.

If you’re confused about this or need some help setting up your fat loss diet join the upgrade you facebook group here:

Flexible dieting – the struggles

Why people struggle with flexible dieting

It sounds brilliant-

you get to eat the foods you want

you can still drink alcohol

you can eat out

you don’t need to meal prep

you can be spontaneous (oooo what’s reduced in tesco today)

you can try new foods

And best of all because of all these reasons it is sustainable long term.

Sounds like rainbows and flowers but flexible dieting is hard! And I’m not talking about understanding macros or learning how to track foods.

I’m talking about the self restraint required. It’s quite easy to say no to something .e.g. I’m not drinking at all I’m on a diet and it’s not allowed. That is final, it’s set in stone, that’s the rule so you don’t need to think about it. That takes very little will power.

However, if you decide that you will have 2 beers because you want to and you’ll fit them into your calories for the day you may find it takes a lot more will power to stop at 2.

Moderation is hard. Saying no is relatively easy.. that’s why rule based diets work so well. I can’t have that.. it’s not on my diet. End of.

But that is a short term solution. Do you honestly think you can live NEVER eating after 6pm or NEVER eating carbs again? .. I’m sure you *could* but why would you want to.

The problem with strict diets is that they are very all or nothing. You’re on the diet or you’re off the diet. As the name suggests, flexible dieting is not like this.

My long winded point is that flexible dieting is hard but it is so worth it. Invest time, effort and will power in learning the ropes once and you won’t have to jump on and off diet plans, juice cleanses & meal plans ever again.

I don’t think I know anyone who has tried flexible dieting (for more than a few weeks) and gone back to restrictive ‘fad’ diets after.

What are your experiences of flexible dieting?
What are/were your struggles?
Do you have any tips now that you wish you knew when you started?

Low carb diets part 3: Why does the insulin hypothesis stick?

Low carb diets part 3: Why does the insulin hypothesis stick?

There is truth in it. It is science taken out of context..

Eating carbohydrates does spike insulin.

And insulin does inhibit body fat breakdown ACUTELY.

This makes sense.. if you have food (energy) coming in why would you continue to breakdown stored energy (fat).

What low carb zealots like Taubes do is take this out of context and lead you to believe that eating carbs will prevent you from losing body fat independently of energy balance.

Another common argument I hear is that fat oxidation rates go up on low carb diets.. again, this is true!

Because low carb diets tend to be high fat diets.. and what happens when you eat more fat? You burn more fat. It does not mean that you are reducing your body fat levels!

How big should a deficit for fat loss be?

How big should a deficit for fat loss be?

This obviously depends on a number of factors such as what the starting point and the end goal are, is there a tie restraint etc.

Lets assume the end goal is a healthy weight and the starting position is an overweight individual with a lot of fat to lose. I’m choosing this example as it is the most common generic weight loss client..

So..Mr or Mrs generic weight loss client has come to you looking to lose weight..Do you have them in a big or small energy deficit?
.. this is not rhetorical questions there are pros and cons to each what have you found works best?

Generally there is a fear of putting clients on low calorie diets but remember that people with a lot of fat have a lot of energy stores.. so on a physiological level they can do very well on a low calorie diet.. given they have enough protein, vitamins and minerals

In this case it may be more important to consider what they can adhere to.

I’d also note that with the right food choices you can make 1200 calories look like a lot of food!

So as you can probably tell I’m not against low calorie diets for people with a lot of fat to lose.. your bikini prep Client on 1200 calories might actually be short of energy stores. Your over weight Client on 1200 calories is not


Weight loss Plateaus 

Weight loss Plateaus

We know that short term fluctuations in weight do not represent fat loss and that lack of weight loss doesn’t always mean lack of fat loss short term (fluctuations in water retention and or food volume can mask fat loss short term).

However, if your weight consistently hasn’t dropped for 2 to 3 weeks AND you’ve been consistently adhering to your diet and exercise regime..its more than likely you aren’t in a calorie deficit and you aren’t losing fat.

At this point you may want to consider reducing your calorie intake or increasing your expenditure i.e. eat less and/or move more to create a deficit.

Take home:

Plateaus are inevitable in successful weight loss. Your energy requirements will reduce as you lose weight meaning at some point you will have to reduce your calories to continue to lose weight.

You won’t lose weight every week. Weight loss isn’t linear. This is even more relevant to women who may put on weight during or prior to their period despite being in an energy deficit.

Don’t drop your calories after a week of no weight loss or you will quickly find yourself on very low calories with nowhere to go