Sorry fellas, this is another one for the ladies. That doesn’t mean this information can never apply to any of us gents, just that most women will find it more useful than most men.
If you have been listening to our podcast or sniffing around this site for any length of time, you have probably heard me talk about calories and fat loss, and you were probably initially surprised to here me say that most (actually, nearly all) women with fat loss goals are not eating enough to facilitate those goals. To briefly recap, consuming too few calories, especially when coupled with exercise, has the tendency to condition a body toward a slow metabolism and efficient fat storage. In other words, starvation and cardio are the fast track to yo-yo dieting and metabolic damage.
If you have a history of not-so-healthy weight loss pursuits with caloric restriction and the kind of exercise that is intended to “burn calories,” the only way to produce any sustainable results is to heal your metabolism, and that requires eating enough to get your body out of the stress that has become its norm and the source of all your frustration. This usually won’t happen overnight, and it might even require gaining a little fat while your body learns some new norms, but I have never seen anyone fix a broken metabolism while her body struggled to adapt to semi-starvation.
Almost every fat loss consult I do involves me advising more total calories, to which I am usually told in a pleading voice that more calories will be nearly impossible. I get it. Many years of conditioning has caused a loss of appetite. This creates a need for energy dense foods that don’t fill your stomach up with a lot of fluff.
Here I offer a very basic sample day of adequate calories for someone with the need to re-feed a broken metabolism and get back to healthy so fat loss can begin.
3 scrambled eggs made with 1 tablespoon heavy cream
4 slices of bacon
Spinach salad with 6 ounces of chicken breast
3 tbs of balsamic vinaigrette
Half an avocado
8 oz ribeye steak without trimming the fat
1 cup broccoli with 2 tbs butter
The total calories for this sample day is just under 2000. This will be plenty (for most women) to fuel an active life while rebuilding a damaged metabolism. I ran this sample menu past multiple women in my world, including my tiny partner in crime, Sarah Fragoso, and none balked at the quantity of food here.
The bottom line is that you may need to return to the basics of meat and vegetables, resist filling up on veggies before you can get enough dense calories down, and rely on fat to keep the caloric density high in each meal. Will it be easy for everyone? Of course not. But if you are moving around like a human should, you must properly fuel your life if you want a healthy body. If you aren’t moving around like a human should, then you have more than just diet work to do if you want a body that performs well and looks great. Less calories for a sedentary life will not result in the body you want. Such a scenario is only depriving the body of two things it need to be healthy – adequate food AND adequate movement.
Please note that it’s okay to baby step your way to a healthy quantity of food each day. If it’s more comfortable for you, you can start by trying to find ways to add just 100 calories to your day and staying there for a week or two. Then add another 100, continuing on until you are somewhere around 1800 calories or higher and it begins to feel natural. Holding there for at least a few months should get your metabolism back to place where you can start some experimentation to find out what’s best for you. It all might sound daunting, but you can do it!
For more help, support, and a solid fitness plan come on over and find us at EPLifeFit.com.
Go forth and be awesome.