Anna and I spent the last two days learning from a few of the best and brightest in the field of sports nutrition. Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally known sports nutritionist and best-selling author. She is the team dietitian to the Boston Red Sox among other top athletes, but has also spent many years counseling everyday people on weight maintenance and their struggle with food. John Ivy, PhD is the chair in kinesiology and health education at UT Austin. His research has pioneered our understanding of how the muscles work and how we can maximize performance with nutrition supplementation. His work has also allowed us to understand the importance of nutrient timing on training adaptations and recovery.
We learned so much it is hard to narrow it down to just one post, but I will try my best!
Decreasing the Food Struggle & Maintaining a Healthy Weight
1. DON'T START A DIET YOU ARE NOT OK WITH MAINTAINING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
Are you really happier cutting out carbs? Eliminating fat? Eating only veggies all day long? Do you never want to eat birthday cake or pizza again? Most likely the answer to these questions is no. You should work with someone who will help you develop a food plan that doesn't deprive you. The more satisfied you feel, the less likely you are to go off of it.
A sustainable weight management program offers:
- A variety of enjoyable, satiating foods
- Regularly scheduled meals and snacks
- Portions that fit within the calorie budget
2. DETERMINE YOUR CALORIE BUDGET.
Never do we want calories to become a fixation, but it will help guide your food choices as you learn to eat intuitively. After some time, the body will tell you when you are hungry, when you are full and you will know how to listen to those body cues without compulsive calorie counting.
For a quick and dirty estimation of your calorie budget use this formula:
10 x lbs body weight
+ calories expended in purposeful exercise (average per day)
+ "fidget factor" (add 300 to 700 calories depending on how wiggly you are)
Total Daily Calories Spent
- 10 to 20% for weight loss
Daily Calorie Budget
"Fidget Factor" = NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). This is the energy we expend aside from our basic needs, exercising, and digesting food. The more you move, the more total calories you will spend each day. This will increase your overall calorie budget.
For a more specific needs assessment, work with a nutrition professional.
3. The bucket approach to weight reduction.
Once you have determined your calorie budget, divide it by four.
Everyone gets four food buckets for the day.
Each food bucket lasts 4 hours.
You can use your food bucket however you would like during those four hours.
Calorie estimations are done in increments of 50, don't get too caught up on these.
Let's say your daily calorie budget is 2400. You get 4 buckets of 600 calories. It might look like this...
Bucket #1 @ 6am
Pre-workout Snack: granola bar (200)
Post-workout Breakfast: oatmeal with peanut butter & banana (400)
Bucket #2 @ 10am
Morning Snack: Greek yogurt & an apple (200)
Lunch: turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with spinach, mustard & avocado (400)
Bucket #3 @ 2pm
Second Lunch: quinoa tossed with chopped veggies, Craisins, olive oil, salt & pepper (400)
Afternoon Snack: almonds (200)
Bucket #4 @ 6pm:
Dinner: grilled salmon, roasted Brussels sprouts & small sweet potato (400)
Bedtime Snack: cottage cheese with berries (200)
4. Eat by day, diet by night.
If you absolutely must restrict your intake, do it at night. Eat breakfast and consistently all day long. Unlike what your mom might have told you, ruin your appetite! If you aren't hungry at dinner after fueling properly all day long, this is when you can reduce your portions and cut out the late night snacking. Go ahead, lose weight while you sleep and wake up hungry for another day!
Remember to eat at regular intervals throughout the day...
You can't breathe normally after holding your breathe for too long.
You can't eat normally after restricting your intake for too long.
Nancy's Concluding Words of Wisdom
Eat wisely and exercise enjoyably to enhance your health.
Be as nice to your body as you are to your car.
Remember, no number on the scale will make you happy.
Appreciate your body for all the good things it does for you.
Don’t struggle on your own - consult with a dietitian.
I hope you find this to be a helpful summary to guide you as you make goals for the new year. Be kind to yourself and if you don't want to go it alone, reach out to us at Zest.
We would love to be your positive reinforcement and coaching team as you navigate the tricky world of food and fitness!