What You Should Be Counting Instead of Calories

calorie-countingWhile counting calories in, calories out can be a great way to help manage your meal choices, the results you achieve are much more related to the types of foods you choose than the calories alone. To this end, I’ve developed a better “counting” method for accurately determining the amount of food you should eat each day to support your body transformation goals.

It’s called the 1-100-1/2 method:

 

  • 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
  • Less than 100 grams of carbs per day (less than 60 grams for women)
  • 1/2 gram of fat per pound of body weight

 

This is a much simpler and alarmingly more effective way of keeping track of your day to day food intake, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than writing down and adding up every ingredient you eat in a day and subtracting calories burned. This is called macronutrient counting, and it works for just about anyone looking to lose weight.

Why is it so effective? Because it’s relative to your body size, it ensures that you’re getting enough metabolism-boosting protein each day, it keeps your carbohydrate intake moderate, and it doesn’t discount healthy fats (which actually promote weight loss and muscle gain.)

By using this method, you’ll end up controlling your calorie intake simultaneously, but with a more balanced, nutrient-rich diet. A calorie from a Philly cheesesteak and a calorie from a greek salad are measured the same when you’re counting calories alone, but you’re getting very different nutritional make ups from these two meals, so you’re not getting the full picture. When you look at calories alone, your diet can actually end up really imbalanced.

If you’re looking at this and thinking.. but I’ll miss my carbs too much! Don’t worry. I still advocate a “cheat” day where you can lax on the counting for a day after you’ve put in your weeks worth of hard work, just make sure not to go overboard. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

4 Foods You Can Eat Before Bed

late_night_snackMost people have heard that eating before bed isn’t a great idea if you’re looking to lose weight. This fact has broken a few hearts, especially for those of us who love a tasty late night snack. Well, here’s some good news: hope is not lost.

Not every food that you eat past 7 PM will go straight to your hips. In fact, there are certain foods when eaten late at night that can actually help you lose weight. So what are these magical tasty treats, and how exactly does all this work?

First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat. And that’s carbs. Carbohydrate consumption causes a significant rise in insulin (i.e. the storage hormone), which stops fat burning. In the late evening hours your metabolism is winding down, so an insulin spike is the last thing your body needs if you are looking to lose weight.

So what should you reach for instead? Slow-digesting, high-quality protein.

Slow-digesting proteins don’t cause an insulin spike, plus they provide your body with a steady flow of amino acids as they breakdown slowly throughout the night. Amino acids help you recover from exercise and maintain your calorie-burning lean muscle as you lose fat.

Now, ready for some prime snack options?

1. White Meat Protein (not red meat) – Chicken and turkey are great pre-bed meal choices because they digest slowly and have a very low insulin release. They also promote the release of another hormone, glucagon, that helps the body break down carbs and fat to be burned for energy. DO NOT have red meat. Red meat has a significantly higher insulin response.

2. Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese is slow digesting and stimulates glucagon release. Just make sure you’re eating plain cottage cheese. Flavored varieties come with a lot of added sugars, which aren’t what you want at any time, but especially before bed.

3. Green Vegetables – Technically not a protein, but they contain virtually no calories, are high in fiber, and very filling. You can’t go wrong with a nice plate of fresh veggies.

4. A Protein Shake – Protein in a pretty pure form. If you’re having this before bed, make sure it’s slow-digesting protein and low in carbs. Many people even make having one of these before bed a nightly ritual. Just make sure you’re not having whey protein. Research has shown that it causes more of an insulin release than even white bread! Opt instead for a a time-released blend that includes a blend of slow-digesting, high-quality proteins.

Anyone else hungry, now?

Wednesday Weigh-In

Losing weight can be a tricky job. You’ve changed your diet, shifted around your meal schedule, and possibly added exercise to cover all your bases. The first few weeks have been tough. The sight of any junk food sends you into a hair-pulling spiral of questioning your dedication, your ability to keep a promise to yourself. Then there’s your worst enemy, the scale. You eye each other wearily whenever you pass. It’s the only thing that proves how good (or bad) you’ve been doing at your latest life goal. Part of the diet experience is about self-control and discipline, and not just of your eating habits. You need to be patient, with both your weight loss and yourself.

scale_weightConstant scale-jumping won’t help you shed pounds any quicker, so don’t even try. If you measure your weight loss on a daily basis, it will do nothing but shave years off your life with unnecessary stress. Understanding how the body works is the first step to losing weight in the healthiest way possible. Remember that weight fluctuates, even on an hour-to-hour basis, so set your weigh-ins for the morning.

When choosing the ideal day to step on the scale, Wednesday is scientifically proven to be the best day for consistent weight management. Part of weighing yourself weekly is to show the most marked change between weigh-ins. Day to day is just not enough time for your body to show any type of result, and the lack of progress is discouraging enough to put people off their diet entirely.

Wednesday is also a great day to weigh because it sits dead-center in your week. Oftentimes, people spend the weekend indulging, or forgetting certain aspects of their diet. It’s not worth thinking you ruined your entire weight loss plan after one night if you can recover by the week’s beginning, and be back on track by weigh-in. Think of Wednesday as the day your body is at its best, and regularly maintaining a Wednesday weekly weigh-in will produce the best results for tracking your success.

Correct your Eating Habits

American’s eating habits revolve around three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Gorging on three big, calorie-laden meals throughout the day is just natural for us. Eating to the point of entering a “food coma” occurs often, leaving us tired, lazy, and full. But it has also expanded our stomach sizes and cortisol levels, a hormone produced in response to chronic stress and is associated with causing excess belly flab.

Josh Bezoni - Eating HabitsSo how do we fix this? Substitute those three belly-bursting meals for five small meals spaced out throughout the day. These well-balanced, nutritional meals should be between 300 to 400 calories, depending on your weight and activity level. And you calories should be coming from natural sources like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and eggs.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study which revealed that individuals who consumed mini-meals spaced three hours apart throughout the day decreased their cortisol levels by 17 percent compared to participants who consumed the same amount of food but in three meals per day.

And while switching from three big meals to five smaller ones may leave you unsatisfied initially, after a few days of sticking to your new habits your stomach will naturally begin to shrink, and those mini-meals will leave you feeling full satisfied, light, and full of energy. An added bonus? That cortisol-blunting effect occurs after just two weeks of making the meal shift.

Just remember to cut out processed foods and other foods containing obesity additives; they may be delicious but they are essentially junk for your body that offer no nutritional value. Consistently eating balanced-mini meals spaced throughout your day (think 7am, 10am, 1pm. 4pm, 7pm) will result in a healthier body and eliminate the need for any invasive and costly procedures like gastric bypass surgeries.