Society has women starving.
Since I can remember I’ve been insecure about my stomach. I’ve had this pinch of “fat” around my belly and lower stomach area that I just could not get rid of, no matter what diet fad I tried, or how much I exercised. Plant based, no carbs, paleo diet, bullet proof coffee, fasted cardio – just to name a few. The one thing I didn’t try: properly fuelling my body.
I was 24 years old, training 5-6 days a week and I was convinced 1300 calories was enough to fuel my body to get the results I wanted. December was around the corner again and I was not going to have “rid stomach fat” at the top of my New Year’s resolution list one more time. My mom, knowing how frustrated and defeated I felt, got us an appointment with one of the coaches at our gym, AmenZone Fitness, and he forever changed my life.
During our consultation, he asked my goal. My answer, lean up and get rid of this impossible stomach fat…
“Impossible?” He asked.
“Yes. I’ve tried everything, properly and consistently and nothing has worked. *Tears start to fill my eyes at this point…
“Hm.” He looks to my mom for confirmation. “She’s not crazy. I’ve seen her try everything and she hasn’t been able to reach her goal….” she replies.
He properly paused and said “This doesn’t make sense… I need to think about this and get back to you….”
I get a text 3 days laters….
“D, how much do you eat a day?”
I answered “Roughly 1300 calories.”
“And train 5-6 days a week?”
“That’s why!” he exclaims.
Society has women convinced that low-calorie or carb-free diets is how they will lose weight and/or stay lean, but that just isn’t true. I’ve increased my calorie intake based on my weight, height, age, and my activity level and paid more attention to my macronutrients (percent of fat vs. protein vs. carbs) and have seen the most impressive changes in my body ever! Not only have I decreased my body fat percentage, I’ve increased strength, added more muscle mass, increased cognitive function, and the best - better sex! I kid you not! Overall, I just feel better and how you feel is the most important indicator of health - not a number on a scale, your pant size, calories burned - none of that! I’m eating more than I have in a long time. Eating the right things was never a problem for me. It wasn’t about changing what I was eating, it was about changing how much.
Trust me, I totally understand how hard this is to change (F*ck you society for the endless brain wash that less is more), but start slow. For me, tracking my macronutrients was a tool that allowed me to see exactly what I was eating and what I needed to eat more of.
First thing I had to accept; carbohydrates weren’t the enemy. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for moderate-high intensity exercise. So if you’re trying to smash weights, circuits, and HIIT multiple times a week and still keeping carbs low your body’s not going to like it. Reintroducing the right carbohydrates to my diet (slow digesting most of the time and simple carbs after workouts) gave me energy that allowed me to keep more active and allowed my body to recover and heal.
Fuelling my body with what it needed
enabled me to reach the goals I was working for;
a fit, healthy, and lean body!
My second goal was to have at least 40% of my total calories per day come from protein and the remaining comes from healthy fats and the right carbohydrates. How did I reach these goals? I had a proper protein source with every snack or meal. Now, what I quickly became more aware of was that foods I had only been counting as protein sources were often dominant in another macronutrient. Let’s take eggs for example. One average size egg, about 50 grams, has about 5 g of fat and 6 g of protein. Given that per gram, fat has more calories than protein, one egg’s is about 65% fat and 35% protein. Therefore an egg is more of a fat source than a protein source (and a great source of each).
But wait, eating shouldn’t be a math problem! The goal is not to look at your plate and calculate the percentage of fat vs carbs vs protein. The goal is not to have to food log and track every calorie you eat (unless you really want to). The goal is to be aware of the food you are eating and what it gives to your body!
Here is a list of foods to keep in mind when trying to keep your protein intake high…
High-protein low-fat protein sources:
- Organic Chicken (white or dark meat)
- Organic Lean turkey
- Wild fish
- High quality whey protein or vegan protein
Higher-fat protein sources:
- Organic red meats
High-carbohydrate protein sources:
- Certain vegetables
The worst thing for me was to let myself go hungry. I always have a Quest protein bar or a bag of nuts in my bag! ME hangry is no bueno….
So what’s my point here? If you’re hungry and active, EAT! Listen to your body. Don’t starve! Starving won’t make you fit or lean! It may actually cause the opposite, but that is a whole other conversation…Yes calorie balance is a consideration, but we need to start from a place of health where we are eating to perform at our best. It’s all about knowing and listening to your body - believe it or not, you know your body best, not any magazine or trend, YOU!