Weight loss is a challenging. These simple principles are what worked for me when other diets failed. Don’t take my word for it, try it out.
Last spring I briefly dated a former bodybuilder and personal trainer. When we met I was 200 lbs. Most people didn’t notice I was overweight because I’m 5’11”. But I noticed and truly, that’s really all that mattered. I had tried exercise. I had tried diets. At one time I managed to lose 25 lbs. but then gained it all back. During this brief relationship, I learned some key tips and tricks that bodybuilders use to burn fat without losing muscle. So I started my weight loss journey one meal at a time.
Note: I am not a nutritionist. I am not qualified to give advice on the topic. Make sure you check with your doctor before changing your diet.
Weight Loss Tip #1 – Crushing the Complex Carbs
The first thing that happened was limiting complex carbs. Think bread and pasta. At the very beginning, I would only eat complex carbs with breakfast and lunch. One slice of bread for breakfast and two slices at lunch. I was constantly checking nutrition labels to find the best balance of complex carbs versus fibrous carbs (think veggies, fruit and nuts). But I love my complex carbs. They make me happy. So I got smart. I started using coconut flour in baking.
Coconut flour has the benefit of being low in complex carbs and higher in fibrous carbs. Score! It also requires more eggs than wheat flour recipes which mean added protein. Double score! Baking with coconut flour is tricky but there are tonnes of recipes out there. Now a word of caution, coconut flour may seem expensive, but you use a lot less of it in each recipe compared to wheat flour.
Weight Loss Tip #2 – The Power of Protein
The second thing that happened – more protein. I mean a LOT more protein. Here’s what my meals looked like
- Breakfast — 2 eggs, 2 – 3 slices of turkey bacon, one piece of toast with peanut butter
- Lunch – Tuna sandwich (made with olive oil mayo), spinach salad with Thai vinaigrette dressing
- Dinner – protein (chicken, steak or fish) spinach salad with Thai vinaigrette dressing
- Snacks – protein (sausage, cheese, yoghurt, protein balls)
Now if you’re like me, you might be thinking, “turkey bacon?” Yes. It’s actually quite tasty. It’s similar to Canadian bacon but non-pork (which was an issue in the relationship) and leaner. I don’t eat it anymore because I do love my real bacon and the rule of “no pork” is no longer an issue. It was a religious thing that I don’t adhere to.
Weight Loss Tip #3 – Timing is Everything
The third rule was in relation to when not to eat complex carbs. Complex carbs are important for fueling the body. But not really needed at night. At the beginning of my weight loss journey, I did not have complex carbs at dinner. Now that I’ve lost the weight I do sometimes have complex carbs at dinner. I’ve maintained my weight for almost three months now despite my son learning to bake cookies (we eat a lot of cookies now). But I do try to stick to the rule of no complex carbs between dinner and breakfast. Try because, again, cookies.
The science behind limiting complex carbs has to do with positive nitrogen balance. A positive balance helps build and repair muscles. Protein contains nitrogen. This is only a very basic explanation. There are many articles out there that explain nitrogen balance in depth. I know enough to realize that this trick not only works, but it helps keep my chronic muscle pain down and think twice about how much I really want that cookie at bedtime.
Weight Loss Tip #4 – Cheating is Actually Good for You
I have read articles on how a cheat day is actually good for the metabolism. For me, a cheat day was good for motivation. When I was really sticking to the goal of weight loss I would remind myself that it’s only X more days until Sunday – my cheat day. If I had been craving my beloved bread and pasta, Sunday was the day to load up. If I was craving cheesecake, I ate it guilt free on Sunday. It’s a lot easier to follow a weight loss plan for six days than indefinitely.
Full disclosure: I exercised twice during this weight loss journey. I did 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill set to a steep incline. There was a whole discussion over optimal time for exercise to boost weight loss and how just walking on an incline would be enough. But life happened. My custody schedule was erratic. We had way too much going on. I struggled to fit in 15 minutes of yoga let alone go to a gym to use a treadmill. I would have lost weight faster had I made exercise a priority but I was seeing the pounds drop off quickly at the beginning so my drive to prioritize lessened.