All fat loss occurs because of a calorie deficit, meaning you are burning more calories than you are eating. ALL diets work this way!
Paleo, the diet where you eat only minimally processed “paleolithic” foods, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit
Whole 30, where you essentially follow a stricter version of Paleo, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit. *Whole 30 may help you uncover a food sensitivity if you suspect you might have one.
Low Carb diets, where you each fewer carbs, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.
The Ketogenic diet, where you eat almost no carbs, more protein and lots more fat, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.
Low Fat diets, where you eat mostly carbs and protein while avoiding foods high in fat, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.
Intermittent Fasting, where you eat only within certain time periods of the day or week, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.
Weight Watchers, where you count points to control portions, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.
21 day fix, where you use color coded containers to control portions, decreases your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.
Ok, I think you get the point.
Ultimately, no matter what “diet” you chose, fat loss comes down to calories in vs. calories out.
No matter how you do it, 1 lb of fat = 3500 calorie deficit.
Could you create that deficit by cutting carbs out completely. Sure, but you would feel like sh*t. Heck you could create the deficit by eating pizza and chips all day, but you would for sure feel like sh*t because you would be missing valuable nutrients.
You NEED carbs. You NEED protein. You NEED fat. You NEED vital vitamins and minerals from veggies. Of course any diet that cuts one of them out will work because it results in an overall calorie decrease. However, it is not sustainable, again because your bodies needs all those things.
You can’t be the mom you want to be if you feel like sh*t.
My philosophy, take the label off. Eat mostly balanced meals made of of “healthy” whole foods. Know what’s in your foods; read the nutrition facts. Cut out filler calories, so you can save room for the things you love. Focus on how foods make you feel AFTER you eat them not during. I’m not talking about that guilty feeling after you eat something you shouldn’t (although that could be a whole nother blog post - excuse me while I pause and make a note)
Ok, but HOW?
How To Ditch Short Term Diets and Create Healthy Lifestyle Changes Once and For All
My suggestions would be to start simple, with simple balanced meals using proper portions without cutting out any major food groups. My Balanced Meal Cheat Sheet will help you do that. Just print it, hang it on your fridge and follow the simple, repeatable formula for putting together healthy balanced meals. Eventually you won’t even have to think about it.
Once you have a good understanding of the major food groups and you can successfully eyeball portion sizes, you can take the next step. Intentionally creating a calorie deficit.
I usually break this part up into two phases. First, track the habits you already have. Using the balanced meal approach and track for 3-5 days. Then, establish your calorie and macronutrient goals, compare your data from those 3-5 days to your goals, and adjust accordingly.
Use an app, like MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, or MyPlate, to track your intake and look at how many calories you are consuming AND where they are coming from.
How do you establish your goals?
Your goals are specific to YOU. They are based on your body and your activity level. Bear with me here, this part involves some math (math I do for you in my TRANSFORM-you Program).
I’m going to use Mary as an example as we walk through all the parts. Mary is not one of my clients, she a made up person, but is a lot like many of the women that I coach. In case you were wondering, I chose the name because it’s my mom’s name :)
First you need your calorie goal:
Step 1: Establish your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Essentially it's the total amount of calories you would expend in day if you laid in bed and did nothing.
Health Style Hub has a great calculator will tell you your BMR and do some of the calculations below for you too! Click here to find out your's.
Let’s return to Mary as an example. Mary is 32 years old, is 5’5” tall and weighs 150 pounds. Using the calculator, Mary’s BMR is 1,391 calories/day. Therefore, if Mary laid in bed all day long and did nothing (you wish), she would burn 1,391 calories.
Step 2: Adjust for activity.
Since it’s likely that you do not lay in bed all day, you need to then adjust your goal for activity.
You account for activity using one of the following multipliers:
BMR x 1.2 If you are sedentary-you do little or no exercise in a day
BMR x 1.375 If you are lightly active-light exercise 1-3 days/week
BMR x 1.55 If you are moderately active-moderate exercise 3-5 days/week
BMR x 1.725 If you are very active-hard exercise 6-7 days a week
BMR x 1.9 If you are extra active-very hard exercise & physical job or 2x training per day.
*Most people overestimate their activity. Be cautious here! Also, as a side note, be careful not to double count your activity in MyFitnessPal (or the app of your choice). If you already chose a multiplier that includes your exercise DO NOT enter your exercise into the app. If you do, you will be double counting your activity and grossly overestimating your daily calories burned*
So, back to Mary. Mary is a busy mom, chasing a toddler around. She is a member of my Body After Baby Program exercising 5 days per week. I would put her at the 1.55 multiplier. Therefore, her daily calorie expenditure would be 1,391 x 1.55 = 2,156 calories. This is total energy expenditure (TEE) the Healthy Style Hub refers to.
Step 3: For weight loss, establish a calorie deficit.
1 lb of fat = 3500 calories. Therefore,
To lose 0.5 lbs a week cut 300 calories a day.
To lose 1 lb a week cut 500 calories a day.
To lose 2 lbs a week cut 1000 calories a day.
*A weight loss goal of more than 2 lbs per week is not recommended. Remember, we are focused on developing sustainable habits. Also, calorie consumption less than 1200 a day is not recommended. Beyond that point your plan would have to be determined and overseen by a medical professional.*
Annnnd, back to Mary again. Let's say Mary has a goal to lose 20 pounds by her anniversary vacation which is 5 months away (approximately 20 weeks). That would require a 500 calorie deficit per day. 2,156 - 500 = 1656. Therefore Mary’s should consume 1,656 calories per day to reach her goal (remember she is also exercising 5 days per week).
Where should those calories come from?
Any caloric distribution that falls in the ranges above qualify as a “balanced diet.” However, for tracking purposes it’s best of know the total number of grams of each macronutrient (protein, carbs and fat) you should be eating.
A good starting point for a split is 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fat. Bear with me for some more math; I’m going to use Mary again as an example.
We established Mary should should consume 1,656 calories per day to reach her goal.
30% of the calories should come from protein (4 calories per gram).
1,656 x 0.3 = 496.8 calories from protein
496.8 / 4 = 124.2 grams of protein per day
*Often in this step many women find they are not getting enough protein each day*
40% of the calories should come from carbs (4 calories per gram).
1,656 x 0.4 = 662.4 calories from carbs
662.4 / 4 = 165.6 grams of carbs per day
30% of the calories should come from fats (9 calories per gram).
1,656 x 0.3 = 496.8 calories from fat
496.8 / 9 = 55 grams of fat per day
Once you’ve established your goals. Go back and look at your food diary and nutrition breakdown in the app of your choice. Were you getting enough protein? Were you consuming enough/too many calories? What did your carb/fat numbers look like relative to your goals?
Important note: this 30:40:30 ratio may not be the best for you and your goals. A balanced diet can fall anywhere in the following ranges. Carbs should make up 45%-65% of the calories in your diet, Protein 10%-35% and Fats 20%-30%. That makes this starting point relatively low-carb. If you are interested why I suggested starting out on the low end of carbs for most people, ask me.
I would take your habits, your goals, your preferences and your needs into place to create the perfect goals for you.
Make small adjustments daily while you continue to track your intake. Do this until your regular food intake matches your goal.
Making it Part of Your Lifestyle:
In all of my programs, we work on making this whole process mindful and intentional. A major part of that is becoming mindful of the habits around food you already have. You can’t truly change your habits unless you know what your habits are. Some you may be aware of already and some not.
Read more about that here in my post about mindful eating.
Do it with me, holding your hand, providing you feedback and support along the way in my signature TRANSFORM-you Program.
Once you know what to eat, know how much to eat, and create sustainable habit around your life you will be free of diets and tracking. You will just know what goes in your body and how it affects your goals, because YOU put in the work.
No one can do it FOR you.
But I can do it WITH you.