Take it from a seasoned Personal Trainer: Nothing scares clients away faster than telling them they have to count calories on a bikini competition diet. Many fitness professionals have gotten so used to rejection when proposing this idea that they don’t even bother anymore.
It’s definitely not something I would just throw out there to the average soccer mom or busy professional. At least not until they’ve given me grounds for my favorite argument, “You’ve already spent an hour per night reading the latest diet book…you can’t spend less time than that on a system that literally ALWAYS works?”.
Of course I’m only this hardcore with clients who need me to be in order to reach their challenging goals. Which brings me to my question for you…
How challenging are your fitness goals, and how far are you willing to go to reach them? If your goals are modest, or if you’re making steady progress with your current meal plan, you may not need to count calories (at least not until you plateau). Simple moderation may be enough.
If you’re a little more ambitious or you can’t get those last few pounds off, it’s time to get serious. No more eating blindly every 3 hours just until you’re full. That’s not good enough anymore. If you’re going to get to the next level, you need to spend the next two weeks measuring, weighing, and tracking everything you eat and drink. That’s the ONLY way you’re going to get that figure or bikini competitor body you’re so close to having.
2 weeks is all it takes to get control of your eating so that your body has precisely the amount of “fuel” it needs to keep your toned muscles looking great while shedding those last few pounds of stubborn fat. After that, you’ll know well enough what the ideal portion sizes are for your typical meal choices. From then on, you’ll only need to weigh foods whose nutritional content you’re unfamiliar with…and re-check periodically to make sure 4 ounces is still 4 ounces.
Why is weighing and tracking so important for fat loss? 1 day of tracking would answer this for you, since you would likely be surprised how far you are from your target intake. But since you haven’t left your desk to go buy a food scale yet, I’ll explain what being “a little off” with your caloric intake can do. It takes 3500 calories to gain a pound of fat (I know this isn’t as set in stone as they used to say, but it’s still significant). That means that if you’re eating 300 calories per day more than you think you are, you’ll put on a pound of fat in less than 2 weeks!
On the opposite end, if you have been inadvertently undereating (not uncommon either), you won’t have the fuel your body needs to develop those toned, sexy fitness model muscles…and you’ll slow your metabolism. All because of a few hundred calories per day, which is nothing when spread across 3-6 meals.
Need another reason? It will keep you from blowing it. That’s right…writing down what you eat, how much you eat, and your food’s macronutrient content (protein, fat, carbs) will not only help you control portion sizes, it will also tend to keep you away from unhealthy foods.
This is probably half mental and half biological: Mentally, you won’t want to undo the time you’ve invested in this process by eating something that you won’t be able to make up for by the end of the day. Biologically, you’ll be so satiated from consistently getting what your body needs, you won’t have the cravings you’re used to having…and if you do, you’ll have all the data you need to make the simple adjustments (and they are simple).
Wondering where to start? I’ll do the best I can from my desk, which is not as good as I do for my clients…but still pretty good:
- Step 1: Go buy a $40 food scale from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target or Wal-Mart. At this price, the scale should have a built in food database that will give you macronutrient content based on the weight.
- Step 2: Estimate your ideal caloric intake for each day by multiplying your bodyweight by 12. If this seems just way too simple, I guess you can go use this online calculator that factors in a lot more. It will probably give you a similar number as bodyweight x 12 though.
- Step 3: Calculate your macros for each day by using this macronutrient calculator. I would recommend selecting either “moderate” or “The Zone 40/30/30”. They’re not that different really, but with 40/30/30, you have the benefit of being able to use The Zone Diet recipes, which cuts down on the math a lot.
- Step 4: Go to www.calorieking.com and take advantage of their HUGE food library and start tracking! If you find something you eat often that is not in their database, read the label and input the macros into the database so all you have to do is click from then on.
- Step 5: Come back here and leave a comment. Good or bad, let me know how you’re doing with this. I’ll answer whatever questions you may have.
Check back soon for more Bikini and Figure Competition Prep and Training info!
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