Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.
Are you struggling to juggle a fat loss diet with a busy lifestyle?
I hear you.
The majority of my clients are hard-working people with demanding jobs, families to take care of, and ambitions to pursue other than their fitness goals. As a full-time coach, I also face the daily challenge of fitting my own training and nutrition around other commitments.
That’s why I strive to simplify fat loss, so that you can get great results and keep up with your lifestyle.
In this article, I’m going to share a four-step guide to maximising the efficiency of your fat loss diet.
Let’s dive in.
How do you maximise efficiency?
I often advocate for as flexible an approach to fat loss as possible. Flexibility can increase your enjoyment of the process, which in turn increases adherence, arguably the most crucial factor for long-term success.
However, the emphasis is on “as flexible as possible”.
The more flexible your approach to dieting, the more challenging it can be to achieve results unless you have a great deal of experience with nutrition, which is why I usually only recommend the most flexible strategies to my more advanced clients.
As an example, let’s consider pre-tracking your meals versus making food spontaneously, tracking your calories and macros on the fly. Which one is more efficient?
If you have a really good understanding of your own calorie and macronutrient needs, and of the caloric and macronutrient content of most of the foods you eat, then you can take the more spontaneous approach and still hit your nutritional targets most days.
In this case, this may be the more efficient option for you because you don’t have to spend time planning your meals in advance.
On the other hand, if you’ve only just started your first structured fat loss diet, pre-tracking your meals carefully may be necessary for you to nail these targets and make progress.
This is the more efficient option for you in the long run: even if planning and pre-tracking food takes some extra time, it’s going to help you make faster fat loss progress. If you were to take the more spontaneous approach, your rate of progress would be slower, so you’d have to spend a longer total amount of time dieting.
When you’re busy, you don’t have the time or headspace for the effort required to learn how to be more flexible. Therefore, to avoid spinning your wheels, you may be better off prioritising efficiency over flexibility.
That’s why the two common denominators to the four steps in this guide are the following:
A structured and uniform fat loss approach maximises efficiency, minimising the effort needed to achieve results.
Step #1: Create a meal schedule.
This schedule includes:
For most people, three to six eating occasions per day is an appropriate range to shoot for in order to optimise protein distribution, stay fuller for longer and avoid overeating, and aid digestion.
Moreover, eating the same number of times every day at roughly the same time, makes planning your meals and snacks around your commitments easy as pie (pun intended) when you have regular working hours.
If your hours change – for instance, if you’re a shift worker with a variable rota – then make a weekly appointment with yourself to do the following:
Don’t skip this step just because you can’t keep the exact same meal schedule every single day. The point of the meal schedule isn’t to make every day look the same, but to tick these three boxes:
Step #2: Create a weekly meal plan.
Once you have a meal schedule, it’s time to create your self-made meal plan.
This should include meals and snacks that meet your calorie and macronutrient needs; that you enjoy; and that you can prepare and eat within the constraints of your current schedule.
If you don’t mind having the same meals and snacks every day, you only need to create a single-day meal plan. If you’d rather have a little more variety, you can make a two-day plan, with a Menu A and a Menu B to have on alternate days.
To avoid spending too long on this, on grocery shopping, and on meal prepping, I don’t recommend making more than two different daily menus.
Pre-track all the foods included in your self-made meal plan on a calorie-tracking app of choice, then simply copy and paste the food log thus created onto every day of the week that it applies to. If you use MyFitnessPal, check out this article on how to do this quickly and easily.
Step #3: Divide your calories and protein somewhat evenly across meals and snacks.
To be clear, you don’t need to eat the same number of calories or the same amount of protein at every meal in order to lose fat. All you need to do is be in a caloric deficit over a sustained period of time and eat enough total daily protein to build or maintain muscle.
For example, if your daily calorie target is 1500, your weekly calorie budget is 1500 * 7 days = 10,500. As long as your total weekly calories are at or below 10,500, then you’re on target.
However, setting the same calorie and protein targets for each meal makes it easy not only to plan and prep your food, but also to choose a suitable replacement if you have a last-minute change of plans.
If your per-meal calories and protein differ between meals, you’d have to spend time tracking the replacement meal andchanging the following meals to still hit your calories and macros for the day.
With the same per-meal calorie and protein targets, all you need is a replacement meal that roughly hits them, and you can keep the rest of the plan unchanged.
Step #4: Meal prep intelligently.
Many overcomplicate meal prep, turning it into a never-ending chore. So, even though they start with the best intentions, they give up on it after a couple of weeks.
Enter intelligent meal prep.
First off, choose which meals, if any, you’re going to prep yourself. For the others, stock up on ready meals at your local grocery store or use a meal prep company that offers calorie and macronutrient customisation.
The next step is to schedule your meal prep days.
In my experience, there are three strategies my clients find most effective:
You don’t need to choose just one strategy. You can mix and match them depending on your schedule and preferences.
Finally, maximise meal prep efficiency by making the right meal and snack choices.
For your main meals:
For your snacks:
These are some of my clients’ and my own favourite snack options:
Thanks for reading. May you make the best gains.
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An online fitness coach who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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