TFW Portland's strategies and tactics for getting your nutrition straight: burn fat and build muscle in 2018!
Today, I want to give you a super high-level 50,000-foot view about nutrition... all the way down to the "worm's-eye view," to quote my friend, Jocko Willink. We're going to go over mindsets, strategies, and tactics about nutrition because I want you to burn fat, build muscle, and feel good this year. Let's create a little bit of clarity and simplicity.
I talk a lot about these idioms like the Warrior 20 and Grains to Greens to get you to think about eating the right foods, but people often don't know how to get started. Which is okay and completely normal!
I want to give you a mindset so you can visualize what we're trying to do here at TFW Portland. After that, we'll go into strategies and tactics and pinpoint how to make those strategies actually work for you.
Mindset is a foundation
We always talk about mindset because the tactics don't have context without the right mindset. Then the strategy won't work if your tactics aren't on point/being leveraged correctly.
The mindset is the long term is the short term.
What does that mean? It means the things you do well and do correctly with the long-term in mind will actually bring you greater benefits in the here and now. If your long-term goals are lined up with your values and your mission, your short-term goals will line up with your long-term goals. Everything has congruency and there are fewer tripping points to get caught on. A few instances of some of those long-term views:
- I value my health in the long run
- I want to feel good holistically
- I want long-term energy without the need for caffeine and supplements
- I want to be healthy at 60 and 70, not just healthy at 30 and 40.
On the flipside, short-term tactics reflect behaviors like binge eating and trying crash diets like not eating sugar for two weeks. We'll talk a little about that because we use all kinds of different strategies here at Training For Warriors. (p.s. We don't do crash diets.)
I want to make sure that everything that we do is built with the long-term in mind. This way, we're not living in hell and making too many mistakes, picking the wrong tactics, and getting poor results.
Here are the strategies for getting yourself on to a plan that gets you to consistently cut unnecessary weight, lean out and burn fat. Here are 4 big things to do:
Numbers 1 and 2: Tracking and Planning
These two behaviors go hand in hand. We all do this to some degree because choosing to not make a plan IS a plan. Your plan is to not have a plan. On the other side of the spectrum, when it comes to tracking and planning, people CAN go "overboard".
This is what you need to know about your meals: what you did today and what you want to do tomorrow. That doesn't mean you have to go into extreme detail and have every gram of sugar and fat accounted for. All you have to know is the objective for your eating, hydration, your recovery plan tomorrow... and think about what you are doing today.
A lot of people like to use online tracking tools like MyFitnessPal, which can be a handy tool. There are also pen and paper versions, apart from apps and software. I think this totally fine. The most important thing is to not get overwhelmed with the numbers.
If you're somebody who takes comfort in the details and you want to have that information, great! The big thing is this: use only as much detail as you need to be successful in your planning. Personally, I just need to make sure I have protein and vegetables in the meal. Everything else, I'll figure out. If I need less rice or whatever, I'll just kick it off my plate. If I need more, I'll go out and get it. Which is fine. I need to have the healthy sources of veggies, fruits, and protein.
Know what you need to feel confident in your plan and then track your adherence to the plan. That's number one and two. Tracking, know what you did, and then planning, having a plan for the day and the week. Because if you're trying to wake up every morning and hope that you eat the right things but don't have a real plan, you're gonna be 50/50 on point or worse.
Stage 3 is measuring
I'm not talking about measuring your food (we'll talk about tactics soon) but measuring YOURSELF. Measurements are going to tell you about your plan and if it is bringing you the results that you want. You could be eating a great meal plan, but you won't know if that's the right or the wrong one unless you take measurements. Luckily, if you're working with me here at Training For Warriors in Portland OR, you are taking advantage of our InBody bioimpedance device. With this, we can measure how much muscle you have and how much water and fat. We are really dialed into the numbers so that your program can be adjusted as needed.
If you're training on your own or you are afraid of the measurements, that's okay. You've got to measure something, though. You can step on a scale but if you don't like numbers, look at your energy levels. Even if it's subjective to some degree, you should have a sense of how things are going by taking some biometrics on yourself.
Examine how you feel and how your clothes fit.
Energy levels, focus, clothes fit, sex drive, those are all things that can cue you into how you're feeling and how your training and nutrition is benefitting you.
Stage four is adjusting
We weigh in everybody about once a month here, but if weight management is something that's important for you right now, you might measure every 1 or 2 weeks. It depends on where you're at and what goals you are focused on. Look at your measurements for whatever length of time that you're measuring, and ask, "Am I getting closer or further away from my goal?"
If you measure and are getting closer but you're not tracking and planning, you won't know exactly what's working.
If you measure and you're further away AND you're not tracking and planning, you don't know what to change. That's why it's important to track and plan. If you're doing your tracking, planning, and measuring, the adjustment is simple.
One example of how it works: Let's say my goal is to cut some weight. When I come into the gym and I weigh myself, I see that nothing has changed in some time. My body fat and lean muscle is the same amount. In order to decrease my body fat, I'm gonna adjust my vegetables and/or my protein (as those are my main sources of calories). I generally know that the more greens I eat, the leaner I get. So the next step for me is to add more vegetables to my meals.
I have a long list of low-carb vegetables that are high in fiber and contain lots of different vitamins and minerals. The more vegetables you eat, the more insulin-sensitive you become. Which simply means you store less fat and build more muscle. What I need to do is eat more greens and eat more fruits, too. I will eat enough protein to keep myself able to build and maintain muscle, but I will make as few changes as possible to get to the next level. I make my adjustments (in this case, adding a serving of vegetables) and then I go back to planning and tracking. Two weeks later, I weigh in again and see what my plan is doing for me.
To recap, there are 4 strategic elements:
You do that long enough with the guidance of a coach and you're going to win. It's just a matter of the details and the pieces to the puzzle. Now it's time for tactics.
Tactics that make your strategies work for you
How are we going to tweak the program? There are definitely things apart from food that you can change, including the amount of water you drink, how much sleep you get, etc... However, when it comes to protein, you want to get between 20 and 40 grams of protein. If you're a bigger person who has a lot of muscle to maintain, 40 grams of protein per sitting might be right for you.
If you are 100 pounds or you're a smaller person in general, then maybe 20 grams is right for you. There will be different phases of your training, so just know that these are heuristics (meant to be adjusted within a window) like a baseline.
An example: I'm a 65-year-old woman who's 100 pounds and 5 feet tall. What I'm gonna do is I'm going to start on the inside edge of the aforementioned range of 20-40 grams of protein per meal.
That means I have 20 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat, 75 grams of carbs, and maybe seven or eight servings of vegetables.
Next, I'm gonna see how close I get to reaching that and then I'm gonna pick one variable to adjust at a time. I plan out to have three meals a day (10 servings of vegetables) = 60 grams of protein per day, 45 grams of fat, 75 grams of carbs. I stick with that and at the end of the week, I weigh in to see how my body's doing with that adjustment, and then I make my next change.
Maybe I only adjust protein. What if I lose weight, muscle, and fat?
The calories are low and I'm losing muscle. How do I deal with that? We make sure that we increase protein. Not by a ton! Just 5 grams of protein per meal. Now I'll eat 25 grams of protein per meal, and look at the measurements again and see what has to happen next. Make small adjustments over time and you WILL get there. If you're not getting results, then you adjust down or maybe increase your vegetables, measure again in a couple of weeks and you take your next adjustment.
***** Don't forget, this only works if you're tracking and planning! *****
Make the plan easy to stick to!
If you plan your meals but get tired of them by Tuesday and are no longer sticking to it, this won't work. The most important thing is to create the plan that is SO easy to adhere to... and then just check off the number of days that you stick to the plan. As long as you get 85% of your meals in the window, you're on the plan in my book. 15% of your life can be happy hour and cold pizza, but you have to stick to the plan at least 85% of the time to get consistent results. That's gonna help you make adjustments and eventually win. There you have it: We went from the 50,000-foot view to the worm's-eye view.
One big issue is getting stuck in between the place where you are and where you want to be. Does this sound familiar?
"Oh, my work schedule is crazy, and I can't stick to three solid meals a day planned and mapped out like that."
Okay. What can you do? Can you do a super shake and two meals? Can you do a meal and two super shakes? Can you do Monday through Thursday, and then Friday through Sunday is a bit different?
Whatever the issue, these are questions that you need to ask yourself, ask your coach, or whomever you're working with. If you're working at TFW with me, then shoot me (or one of our coaches) the questions.
I hope you got a few answers to your nutrition questions. If you still need some help, please shoot me an email or comment below... but don't stop until you get the answers you need. Take your foot off the brake and bring out the warrior within.
Yours in Strength,