If you’ve been following part one of this series, hopefully you’ve realized something important about leaning out: it’s not rocket science. The key is getting to know your body and what works for you. After all, every body is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to body fat loss and building lean muscle. While many of the current diets and guidelines on the market can work for some, they may or may not work for you.
That being said, there are a few key points that do apply to everyone, regardless of your exact prescription:
- Nutrition is responsible for the majority of your results.
- Stress (mental, physical, emotional) will work against you and your leaning-out efforts.
- “Eat less and move more” is a big fat lie.
Those are the foundational elements of this twelve-week series. Are you ready to find your “secret sauce” recipe?
Lift, squat, pull, or press heavy things 3-4 days per week.
Weeks 5-8: Fine-Tuning for Fat Loss
If you haven’t already completed the first four weeks of this program, start here. With the basic principles of self-care established and a cleaner slate and baseline to start from, you are ready to get the ball rolling towards fine-tuning your fat loss plan in phase two.
Clean Up Your Carbs
Cutting back on starchier carbs (potatoes, squashes, rice, oats, quinoa) is generally a winning approach for cutting fat. Focus on getting the majority of your nutrients from protein at every meal, healthy fats, fibrous veggies (lots of greens), and water.
Ideally, for fat loss, less than 30 percent of your total macronutrients will come from carbohydrates, and you will consume 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. I find that women sometimes need more carbs than men (thank you, hormones), so it’s important to keep this in mind. Reach for whole food carbs to make up the bulk of your carb intake. Think lots of veggies, no more than 1-2 servings of fruit like berries or citrus fruits per day, and limited amounts of starches like sweet potatoes and squash.
If and when you do consume starchier carbs, aim to consume these before or after your workouts. Post-workout is a great time to have that sweet potato with coconut butter on top. Or try my homemade banana pancakes.
And even though we are not counting calories here, it’s important for you to note that you actually need more calories and energy to boost your metabolism, made up of real whole foods. Undereating causes a slew of problems all its own, so resist the temptation to excessively restrict your calories.
Conquer Sugar Cravings
If you’re finding yourself craving sugar, chances are you are fatty-acid deficient or your body has been accustomed to running off sugar. Here are a few ideas to conquer your cravings:
- Reach for a tablespoon of coconut butter or raw almond butter.
- Dip some baby carrots into homemade guacamole.
- Opt for full-fat raw organic yogurt with a handful of fresh berries and walnuts over the fruited fluffy yogurt cup.
- Try these awesome buttermints.
- Grill up a nice piece of salmon or a grass-fed bison burger with avocado on top in lieu of a big bowl of pasta or cereal for dinner.
Lift Heavy Things
Your body has had some time to de-stress with the basic daily movement you’ve been doing for the last four weeks (walking and daily activity like bike riding or yoga). While you are more than likely still dealing with the residual effects of a lifetime of stress (it’s common), we can begin implementing a more targeted exercise routine this month.
The main difference between phase one and phase two? Start lifting heavy weights 3-4 days per week. Lifting weights will not make you bulk or get fat when your nutrition is spot on.
It is always best to have an individualized approach for both fitness and nutrition. I offer my clients weekly workouts and an individualized nutrition plan customized for body type, coupled with regularly scheduled one-on-one sessions.
A basic weekly template for fitness could look like this:
- Monday – Strength/Lift heavy things
- Tuesday – HIIT/Sprint
- Wednesday – Strength/Lift heavy things
- Thursday – Move slowly, play, or pest (yoga, long walk, active recovery)
- Friday – HIIT/Sprint
- Saturday – Strength/Lift heavy things + HIIT/Sprint
- Sunday – Move slowly, play, or rest (yoga, long walk, active recovery)
Put Yourself First
Remember your mantra? Your daily affirmation? Are you using it? Keep at it. Write it out, or if it’s changed, write out your new one and place it somewhere you can see it every day.
Your project for putting self-care into action this month is to say no at least once per week to something you otherwise would have used to say yes to. Sometimes less is more. Hone your focus in on feeding your spirit and doing the things in life that nourish you and your soul. Do one thing that nourishes you each day. You decide what that means to you.
Stay the Course
Recently, I sat down to chat with a client who expressed her frustrations with dieting and fat loss. “I just don’t understand,” she said. “No matter what I do, my body never changes.” Despite following all the rules, and earnestly seeking change, every time she hit a wall.
There is no denying our society’s constant struggle to hack the topic of fat loss. Remember, the answers start with you, and consistency is key to results. I hope you’ve seen success with phase one and keep it up in weeks 5-8.
Please share questions or comments below, and keep an eye out for phase three!
You’ll Also Enjoy:
- A 12-Week Fat Loss Plan: Phase One
- 10 Commandments of Muscle Mass for Women
- Your Complete Carbohydrate Prep Plan
- New on Breaking Muscle Right Now
Photo courtesy of CrossFit Impulse.