Diet plays a large role in reaching fitness goals. There are many myths about dieting out there so we wanted to bring in a registered dietitian to answer our member’s questions about dieting and nutrition.
Is a high protein diet necessary for weight loss?
A high protein diet isn’t necessary for weight loss. For weight loss you want to focus on a calorie deficit, meaning you take in less calories than you use. Keep in mind carbs are our first energy source so if you have a high carb diet you may not get the results you want. Tracking your diet on an app is a great way to monitor how many calories we take in a day because you have to watch your portion sizes. Most people don’t realize how big their portions really are. I recommend using a food tracking app such as MyFitnessPal or LoseIt to get a better understand of what you eat everyday.
What food would you recommend to boost energy?
Our B vitamins (especially B12 and B6) are considered our energy vitamins. Good sources include whole grains which give that steady flow of energy, fruits/vegetables such as bananas and sweet potatoes, meats, dairy, seeds and legumes. With simple carbs like candy and white bread or caffeine we get that quick rush but then tend to see that crash in energy whereas complex carbs like those whole grains provide a smoother energy level. Having a diet rich in B vitamins will help with energy stores. Adding supplements to your routine usually isn’t necessary if you are eating a balanced diet.
What should you eat to lose stubborn stomach fat to help show abs?
We all know the saying abs come mostly from diet but hormones and stress also play a big role. I do suggest a low carb diet while still getting adequate fiber, avoiding sugar and alcohol and incorporating cardio into your routine…like coming to my cycle classes! Avoid drinking your calories like those sugary coffees and soda. I also suggest avoiding artificial sweeteners. Make sure to hydrate as our bodies usually don’t know the difference between thirst and hunger so we tend to eat when we are actually just thirsty, especially during these summer months. A good trick is to divide your weight in pounds by half and that’s how many ounces of fluid you need a day.
Is it good to workout in the morning before breaking your fast?
Fasted workouts are definitely a hot topic and I would be cautious what workout you’re doing. If you’re doing a HIIT workout I definitely discourage fasting because your body is under too much stress to be without fuel. Fasted cardio tends to be safer if it doesn’t exceed 1hr. However, even drinking a sports drink will help give your body a little bit of fuel to start your workout and transition to using fat for fuel as your workout progresses. Fasted cardio doesn’t have to be completely without any food or caloric intake, you can still have a successful fasted cardio session with a little fuel first. Listen to your body during your workout and take breaks when needed. If you feel light headed, dizzy or weak then definitely incorporate some carbs before your workout. Workouts with too little carbs can lead to injury and decreased immunity so again always listen to your body
Trainbrave Podcast by Renee McGregor, RDN and Kriss Hendy has great discussions on fasted workouts and training tips.
What can I eat to gain more muscle and healthy fats?
Protein is the building blocks of our bodies so making sure to get adequate protein will help gain more muscle. Watching your macros can help with balancing carbs/fat/protein. With high protein diets you need to make sure to drink plenty of water to help your kidneys regulate toxins. Lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey and low-fat dairy products are great sources of protein. Creatinine is helpful for building muscle mass but if you’re already following a high protein diet it usually isn’t necessary. Trans fats are the bad fats we see in processed foods whereas mono and polyunsaturated are known as the good fats . I prefer to use avocado oil for everyday use because it is safe to cook at a high temperature. If you cook with olive oil make sure to check the label states that it can be used at high-heat.
What is the best way to find out how many calories you should be eating a day to lose weight?
Talk to a dietitian! I do like the MyFitnessPal and LoseIt apps you can download on your phone that will help give you an idea of a calorie range and help track your calorie intake but really the best thing is to talk with a dietitian because it’s important you are still getting enough micronutrients and fiber while you’re dieting. The healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off is to lose 1-3lb per week. One pound is about 3500kcal so if you track your current diet and then eat or burn 500kcal per day less than that you will see that slow/healthy weight loss.
When should you stop eating at night? And should you eat before working out?
We tend to see the body stop burning food and go into resting mode at 7PM so I tell my clients to stop eating by then. If you tend to fall asleep before 9 I would stop eating at least 2hr before bed. I do recommend having at least 15g of carbohydrate (one serving) before a workout to give you a little fuel before you start using fat or breaking down protein for energy. Again low carb intake before a workout can lead to injury and decreased immunity.
Trainbrave podcast has helpful tips for fueling for your workouts
Can eating too little calories when trying to lose weight send you into “starving mode”?
Too little calories can lead to tiredness, low concentration, injury, decreased immunity, and low blood sugar. I also tend to see binge eating especially on those high sugar foods because your body is looking for that quick burst of energy. Carbs have this bad reputation but it’s our bodies main fuel so to function at optimal level we need to fuel our body. Again, healthy weight loss is only 1-3lb per week and that’s when we see people keep that weight off too.
If nobody sees me eating skittles, does it really count?
Absolutely not! 10% of our diet should be fun calories! Don’t over restrict or we tend to binge eat and punish ourselves for cheating. Most people assume I eat perfect all the time but it’s rare I go a couple nights in a row without ice cream!
Gummy bears after working out? Myth or?
Not a myth! We need to refuel after a workout and that should include some carbs and protein. The ratio of carb to protein depends on your goals- muscle building or endurance training. Just don’t leave them in your car during summer.
Lauryn White has been a Registered Dietitian since 2013. She joined the Mountainside team a little over a year ago as a Group Fitness instructor. Lauryn teaches Studio Cycle and Barre at the Tempe, Chandler, Awhtaukee, Paradise Valley and Gilbert clubs. She loves food, fitness and helping people reach their ultimate goals in life. Lauryn offers her dietitian services to Arizona residence and can be reached on her Instagram page @laurynazrd.