Exercise comes first in making you healthier and stronger, but if your goal is to get a flat stomach and chiseled figure, you might be looking in the wrong place. Get out of the gym, and into the kitchen. I am by no means saying to scrap your dedicated and necessary workout program, I am simply saying that focus needs to be put on what you are putting into that body of yours. Calories are a lot easier to put into the body than they are to burn off, so burning the candle at both ends will be most beneficial.

Here are a few tips to allow your food to help you along your weight loss journey, not hinder it.

1. Watch Those Calories: Regardless of how many calories you are burning in your workout, if you eat every single one of them back throughout the day, you won’t see those pounds fall off in the way you would like. On the other hand, if you are excessively limiting your calories, your metabolism can slow more as you put your body into a starvation state. As a general rule women should never drop below 1200 calories/ day, and men should aim for an absolute minimum of 1600 calories. You also never want your net calories for the day to be below -1000. You can burn (through exercise and your resting energy expenditure) up to 1000 calories more than you consume, but try to never drop more than that. Having a net calories of 0 will allow you to maintain weight, where positive net calories mean you will be gaining, so set your goal accordingly.

2. Keep Portions Under Control: It is amazing how fast calories can add up, so watch those serving sizes. A serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards (not a 12 oz steak, sorry), cheese should be about the size of your thumb, and almonds should be just a small handful. Getting moderate sized servings of all food groups will be beneficial in not only keeping your diet well rounded, but also in keeping your calorie count under control.

3. Go with Nutrient Dense Foods: Avoid “wasting” your calories. Make sure the foods you eat will stick with you. Fiber and protein content will help keep you fuller, longer, so you won’t find yourself constantly on the lookout for your next snack. When it comes to breakfast, make sure you are getting at least 20 grams of protein, this will help curb those cravings later in the day, and help you stay on track. When it comes to your vegetables, the darker the better. I hate to break it to you, but potatoes and corn are not nutritious vegetables. Dark roots, and dark leafy greens are generally your best choices.

4. Don’t Drink Your Calories: Drinking calories is diet sabotage. Calories in beverages generally don’t make you feel full, and don’t give you any satisfaction since there is no chewing involved. Say no to that juice, and grab a piece of fruit instead.

5. Soda is Not a Food Group: Soda has no nutritional benefit, and too many people have a dependency or an addiction to it. Diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners that are just tricking your body into thinking it is getting nutrients and energy, but is leaving it without it. Try to limit soda consumption, and replace it with the best alternative, water.

6. Stop When You Are No Longer Hungry: Just because you aren’t on the verge of vomiting doesn’t mean you are still hungry. As soon as you no longer are feeling hungry, call it good. The worst that can happen is that you will need a snack a little later on, but at least you won’t overindulge.

7. Plan A Menu: If you plan out your menu ahead of time (the nutrition guide below does this for you) then you can plan your weekly shopping trip to guarantee you will have the good ingredients you need to make something healthy. Not only will you eat better, but people spend less when they plan out what they are eating ahead of time. You can avoid falling for something that “sounds good” in the moment. Shopping while you are full can also help eliminate those impulse purchases.

8. Eat In: Eating out puts you at greater risk for overeating, so don’t be afraid to bring out your inner chef, and try some new creations. Your kitchen is waiting.

Becca Capell
iFit Head Trainer

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iFit Nutrition Guide

This 8 week nutrition plan is designed to be simple and easy to follow, this guide outlines daily meals and snacks for 8 weeks. Each meal should take 15 minutes or less to prepare.

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