Dieting, Where Do You Start?
Although we don’t like to use the word ‘diet’ too much around here because the traditional perception of a diet is a restrictive form of eating that has a relatively short-term commitment. We’re all about long-term lifestyle change here at GymCube.
Learning how to eat for weight loss is generally a mixture of daunting, confusing and downright fear inducing. Everyone has to start somewhere so, for the sake of this article, we are assuming that you are new to GymCube, haven’t completed Ben Coomber’s The Journey and simply don’t know where to start.
1. Energy Balance
Understanding energy balance is important, it's important if you want to lose weight and it's important if you want to get the most out of your training.
You eat food, that food contains nutrients, many of those nutrients are broken down and used for energy to fuel various biological functions in the body. If you put more energy in than you put out you will start to store the excess as body fat. This is basic thermogenesis and the laws of physics aren’t likely to change any time soon.
If you are a sports person and weight loss isn't your goal you still need to understand how 24-hour energy balance works because it is the difference between recovering and not recovering or winning and losing.
Once you have an understanding of this it's not necessary to track calories all the time but for many people doing so gives them the control and confidence they need to keep progressing. However, it’s usually a good idea to track calories for a while at least, to give you a better understanding of the composition and energy balance of your food.
Useful Article - Calories 101
2. Track Calories
Once you have worked out what your maintenance calories are, either by using a predictive equation or through tracking and you have set your deficit (10-20% depending on how much you have to lose and how quickly you want to lose it) you simply need to get used to eating that level of food.
Use your app to track the foods you eat and aim to be within your deficit. Although 24-hour energy balance is the key factor you will lose weight if you are in a deficit over the week. This alone is the most important aspect. You simply won’t lose weight if you aren’t in an energy deficit no matter how ‘clean’ your diet is. But, realise that your food is more than just numbers in an app nutrients are as important as calories.
Useful Article - How to track calories.
3. Eat A Balanced Diet
What does a balanced diet really mean? In an ideal scenario, you will eat the right balance of macronutrients for your body type, goals and activity. This can get quite complex so we came up with a way of introducing you to this concept.
We give you a simple breakfast test, where you eat three different types of breakfast on three different days. This is a way of determining whether you feel better eating more carbs, more fats or a mixture of both. The emphasis is on FEEL and another good lesson from this test is the way it encourages mindful eating and getting you to connect with how food makes you feel and perform. Learning to listen to your body in this way is important if you are to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Remember, fat loss doesn't happen overnight, if you are overweight it has taken years of poor choices to get there, it will take months and even years of good choices to reverse that. So focus on the journey and enjoy your new GymCube lifestyle.
Useful Article - Find your type.
4. Protein And Fibre
Although weight loss is macro-agnostic, meaning that without the aforementioned energy deficit weight loss simply won’t occur no matter what balance of macronutrients you consume, there are a couple of macronutrients worth tracking more closely.
Protein and fibre both have the highest thermic effect, meaning that they burn more calories while you digest them. Protein is best tracked in grams rather than using a percentage so after you have got to grips with the previous step you can work out your level of protein based on 1.5-2g per kg of weight. Use your target weight if you have a lot of fat to lose.
But, at the very least aiming for a portion of protein food at every meal is necessary to help maintain lean mass and keep your metabolism high. Couple this with plenty of veg, pulses, wholegrains and fruit to keep your fibre intake up and you’ll be fine.
Useful Article - Protein, the what why and when.
• To lose weight you MUST be in an energy deficit, there’s no getting away from this. So, get to grips with tracking calories even if you only do it for a few weeks.
• Get an idea of what balance of carbs and fats makes you feel and perform better and try to stick as close to that as you realistically can.
• Eat a portion of protein at each of your main meals or work out what you need in grams and split it over 3 or 4 servings each day.
You can go as deep into this as you like but so long as you are in a safe and sustainable deficit you will lose weight. Some people like to have more control over what they eat and enjoy the accountability of tracking, others prefer a more relaxed and intuitive approach but even then, it will help to go back and track a week from time to time just to help keep you on track.