An old friend reached out the other day asking for nutrition help- with the same story as so many of us have- “I want to get rid of this extra layer of fluff.”
I looked over her food intake and her training schedule- low calorie and lots of cardio.
I feel like if you’re in this situation, you probably also have an unrealistic time frame on making changes to your body composition.
Because you’re probably thinking- I just need to do “x” for a few months and I’ll solve my problem.
My experiences with clients suggest otherwise.
What you likely need to do is spend 3-6 months at maintenance calories. Then you can look at doing a 10-12 week cut. Then reverse back to maintenance for at least another 3 months (and spend some time in a surplus where you intentionally gain some weight- what?!?!? Then another 10-12 week cut. Then reverse back to maintenance. Rinse and repeat.
And while you’re doing this you need to prioritize training that will encourage your body to keep the muscle tissue it has (during cut phases) and build muscle tissue (during surplus phases).
You can use any online calculator to give you a ballpark number for your maintenance calories. My favorite is here: https://tdeecalculator.net/
It’s not magic by any means- meaning just because that calculator spits out a number that you need to be at that number- exactly that number for maintenance.
If you’re way below that number, slowly increase by 100 calories every 2 weeks until you get up to around that number. I would use that number as a starting point. If you really have been undereating for a long time, you might gain weight on your way up to maintenance. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, it just might mean your body needs to be at a heavier weight for the time being. Sometimes gaining weight has to happen before we can diet again. And sometimes, we might just need to live our lives at a heavier weight than the number we have in our head (that’s really a post for another day).
I have all of my clients track data because I mean that’s really the only way that we know what’s going on.
We track objective data- things like weight, measurements, macros, H20 intake, daily steps, hours of sleep, training metrics, etc
We track subjective data- things like hunger, digestion quality, sleep quality, energy levels, mood, sex drive, etc
I really like for clients to see all of these metrics TOGETHER.
Especially clients that are emotionally attached to the scale number.
I’ve actually found that tracking it and seeing it fluctuate alongside all of these other metrics has been desensitizing for many people.
It really is just a number- and rather than people avoiding it out of fear- I like for people to understand how it’s related to everything else- then they can decide to ignore it because they just don’t freaking care about it- not because they are terrified of it.
So all of this to say- if you really want to change your body- it’s going to take longer than 30 days- it’s going to take longer than 3 months- and like honestly it’s probably going to take longer than a year.
Patience is often the one thing that holds people back from making progress while they spend time chasing quick fixes and sexy, flashy solutions.
The foundations of nutrition are simple.
Eat some freaking protein- if you care about building muscle 0.8-1.2 g/ lb of body weight is a good range to start experimenting with.
Eat carbs. Brown rice isn’t better than white rice. Fruit is not bad. And foods with added sugar can have a place in your life.
Eat fat. Whole eggs. Avocado. Nuts and seeds. Full fat dairy. High quality red meat if you can afford it. If it’s not in your budget, I would stick with lower fat cuts of meat and get your fat from other sources (this is a personal preference- not a hard rule).
Eat enough calories. Metabolic adaptation is a thing that happens. Low calorie intake most of the time- punctuated with periods of high calorie intake- does not set your metabolism up well to deal with those higher calorie days. Eat maintenance calories consistently- and your metabolism is better positioned to accommodate extra calories.
Do enough training that your body recognizes it needs to keep its muscle tissue around. Muscle tissue is metabolically expensive- if we’re not using it, we don’t have any reason to keep it.
Sleep. 8-10 hours/ night. Take naps if you can.
Drink some freaking water. Lols. ½ body weight in ounces + 15oz for every 60 min of activity.
Do a time audit. Do you really need to be doing all of the things you’re doing on a daily basis? Are there tasks you can automate? Or delegate? Or schedule differently so you can use your time more effectively. And before you consider adding more to your schedule, consider the benefits of doing less- not more.
If you’re excited about changing your body- freaking get after it!! AND remember that having a goal of changing your body does not make you better than someone who doesn’t have a goal of changing their body. I think being able to chase performance and aesthetic goals is a privilege. AND ITS FREAKING FUN! And the goal of changing our bodies can give us the opportunity for personal growth in ways we didn’t even know were possible.
Let’s connect on IG @tiananicholetallant ! You can DM me questions any time!