If losing body fat is your main aim, what you do in the kitchen is as important to your chances of success as what you do in the gym.
It doesn’t matter how hard or effectively you train if you’re not as disciplined when nailing your nutrition.
The good news is that eating for fat loss isn’t complicated, as long as you are disciplined and stick to a number of key rules.
Here are the six fundamentals…
1. Green is good
Vegetables should be the foundation of your diet and every time you sit down to eat half your plate should be covered in a variety of veg, which contains crucial fibre and lots of other healthy elements.
Vegetables do contain carbs, but far less than bread, pasta or potatoes – you’d have to eat half a kilo of asparagus to get the same amount of carbs as in a single wholemeal pitta bread.
2. Focus on protein
Protein is one of the most important components. When you eat a high-protein diet, you’re generally less hungry, so you eat less and lose weight as a result.
It’s difficult to eat too much protein but not to get too little, so make it your priority.
3. Don’t fear fat
Fat does not make you fat. In fact, you need to consume good-quality fats if you want to burn body fat because this macronutrient has a role in energy expenditure, vitamin storage and making the hormone testosterone, which also increases muscle mass.
There’s no need to avoid the fats in avocado and nuts, but you shouldn’t eat many hydrogenated and trans fats – those found in cakes, biscuits and other processed foods – because these will derail your fat-loss mission. (Plus they’re really bad for you.)
4. Calories don’t count
Still locked into the old-school ‘calories in, calories out’ rule for fat loss? Here’s a quick question: which will make you fatter, 2,000 calories from ice cream or 2,000 calories from chicken and veg?
Be honest – you know the answer to this already. The intake of the correct macronutrients is ultimately more significant than mere calorie counting.
That said, you can’t just scoff thousands of calories’ worth of healthy food – 5,000 calories from steak is still a lot of calories.
The aim is to hit the correct macronutrient numbers to build muscle and burn fat without eating any extra unnecessary calories.
5. Free range is key
Free-range animals have a more varied diet and obtain a lot more exercise, which allows the development of more muscle, which in turn means they contain more zinc, vitamins B, A and K, amino acids, iron, selenium, phosphorus and zinc.
Farm-raised salmon have also been found to contain up to eight times the level of carcinogens as the wild sort, thanks to cramped conditions and poor-quality feed, while grass-fed beef tends to have much more conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3s than the kind fed on grain and beef tallow.
6. Eat real food
Aim to only eat food that grows out of the ground or that once had a face. Avoid things containing preservatives that you can’t spell or ingredients you wouldn’t keep in the kitchen. And eat things that will rot eventually, so that you know they’re fresh.