What’s the worst feeling in the world?
As a coach, it’s my goal to make sure you never feel that way because throughout my journey, I have spent WAY too much time feeling completely alone.
Yes, my goal is to provide accountability, education, and great programming but more importantly, my goal is to provide support and peace of mind that you’re not alone.
One of the best ways to do that is to dive into your burning questions and breakdown your most common struggles. In this blog I’m going to breakdown the most common questions or nutritional struggles people email, text, or message me about.
Before, we jump in I want you to know that if you have a question or struggle that’s not talked about in this blog, you can email, message, or text ANYTIME.
Do I really have to track?
Whether said in words or body language this is easily one of the most frequently asked questions.
So do you want the honest answer?
You don’t really HAVE to track, but here’s what you’ll miss out on:
Insight on your current eating habits.
Assurance that you’re getting the appropriate amount of nutrients.
Understanding and awareness of the proper types and amounts of food that fuel your body.
Knowledge of what causes bloating, indigestion, and water retention.
Recognition of the foods that promote recovery and proper energy levels.
Do you know what all of that can be summed up to?
If you’re serious about getting results, you need to have some form of measurement to see whether or not your current strategy is working.
There are 2 things I tell people who roll their eyes at me about tracking:
- You don’t need to do ALL of it
- It’s not forever
The biggest contributor to weight loss is management and manipulation of the calories in vs. calories out relationship; therefore, if tracking calories is all you’re able to handle, then stick to that!
I understand that it can feel like a lot to track calories, so I always work my clients into “full” tracking. Here’s the process:
- Write down everything you eat (no measurements or calorie contents)
- Write down everything you eat WITH measurements
- Write down everything you eat WITH calories
- Pair tracking calories to a recommended intake for your goal
- Track calories and protein intake
- Track calories and ALL macronutrients
It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing, but it does need to be enough to provide data or information. I have some clients who are so dialed in on tracking macronutrients that we’re focused on meal timing; however, the MAJORITY of my clients are tracking calories and protein intake ONLY and that is the exact right place for them!
Now, none of my clients will be tracking forever. That’s because the goal of tracking is more than just to help you reach your body composition goals, it’s to help you build awareness. It’s to teach you about the food that you’re eating so you know how much a true serving is, the nutritional value of it, and how it makes your body feel.
I can almost guarantee that if you track everything you eat for 3 months, you’ll get SO GOOD at it, you’ll be able to mentally put together your daily caloric intake.
So to sum it all up, you don’t NEED to track, but if you want to improve awareness, feel better, and see results then yes, you do need to track.
How can I go out or drink and still make this work?
Most of us fall victim to either the restrictive or all-or-nothing mentality. It’s possible you fall victim to both.
I did. I went through phases of being all in or all out for a LONG time.
The best thing I’ve learned during my own journey is that the journey is meant to be enjoyed. LIFE is meant to be enjoyed; therefore, whether you’re all in on dieting telling yourself you can’t have the things you love or all out and mindlessly eating to mask some internal feelings, you’re NOT enjoying life.
You can go out to eat and/or have drinks with friends, but we need to prepare for it.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, the No Plan Plan is NOT a plan.
The strategy for going out doesn’t have to be filled with complex dieting strategies. In fact, the strategy is actually quite simple.
Step #1: Plan whatever you’re planning to eat and drink while you’re out. It hasn’t happened yet, so it doesn’t need to be an exact science but you do need a rough estimate so we can plan for the remainder of the day. This does mean you have to think a little bit about your night before it happens, spend 5 to 10 minutes visualizing or planning the night.
Step #2: Plan your protein. On days like this where calories in might be a little higher than normal, we want to do as much as we can to minimize hunger and cravings throughout the day. Protein is the most satiating nutrient, which means it fills you up and keeps you satisfied. Take a look at and add a source of protein at every meal for the rest of your day. Look at where it lines up with your protein goal and adjust portion sizes based on where you fall in relation to your protein goal.
Step #3: Add carbs and fats based on preference and remaining calorie allotment. As a coach, I recommend my clients different things based on what their night looks like. For a family dinner night, ice cream date night, or any meal out to eat, I suggest reducing carb intake during the day to account for the more processed, carb-dense food. If it’s a girls night, happy hour, or any night including drinks, I recommend limiting fats during the day because fats metabolize similarly to alcohol so swapping alcohol for fat is easy and including more carbs helps soak up the alcohol and reduce the hangover 😉
The goal of the night isn’t to lose weight, it’s to HAVE FUN; therefore, the strategy is to save up as many calories for later by reducing the carb and fat intake early on in the day but keeping protein high enough to help manage hunger.
Remember, that dining out or drinking alcohol are not the enemies here so long as we’re properly prepared and fueled. I don’t want you to try and save up so many calories that it ends up backfiring and you get to dinner STARVING or drink on an empty stomach because THAT is where problems arise.
Prioritize lean proteins and veggies early in the day and add in carbs and fats as you desire or see fit. Once you’re about 1 to 2 hours away from heading out eat a meal packed with satiating foods. That meal should really only be a lean source of protein (listed above) and fibrous foods (listed below):
- Potatoes (White or Sweet)
Still not quite sure how to make eating out and drinking alcohol a part of your lifestyle?
Grab my FREE ebook called Dieting With Wine to get the full breakdown personalized to YOU (CLICK HERE).
How can I eat more protein?
Every single client I have worked with to date has needed to eat more protein. The American diet is simply low on protein, and most of us just don’t really know how much protein we actually need to eat.
Everyone’s protein goal is unique to their goals, body type, activity level, and current status.
What’s not unique is the confusion or wonder of how to get MORE protein.
First, I should say that I put together a comprehensive guide on this very topic. It’s called The Protein Guide for Fat Loss, and if you CLICK HERE, you can get the full breakdown. In this blog, I’m going to give it a quick summary.
Let’s talk sources first, here’s what I recommend to all of my clients:
- Chicken (Ground or Breast)
- Turkey (Ground or Breast)
- Ground Beef (Lean)
- Fish (Fresh or packets of fish like tuna)
- Egg Whites
- Steak (Lean Cuts)
- Low-Fat and Non-Fat Greek Yogurts
- Protein Powders
Now let’s get into the HOW.
Protein at every meal.
If you’re not currently eating a protein at every meal, adding a protein to every meal without can potentially double your intake out of the gates.
Think about it. If you’re eating 5 meals per day and every one of those meals has 25 grams of protein, that’s 125 grams of protein. That puts a lot of people within range of their protein goals!
Increase portion sizes.
Let’s say your protein intake goal is higher because of your goals or body size, 125 grams still leaves you with quite a bit still to get. I recommend increasing your portion size in order to increase your total protein intake.
At some point, a half cup or 4 ounces of protein became the serving size, and from there, everyone seemed to lock onto that. I’m here to tell you that you’re not restricted to only 4 ounces per meal! A great way to increase your daily intake is to expand your portion size to 6 or 8 ounces.
Double up on the source.
Typically when I tell people to increase their portion sizes of proteins I hear about how that’s SO much more. Yes, it is, but you’re probably already eating that much carbs or fats that are made to be much more inflammatory to your gut.
If you really do think it’s too much chicken, consider adding another 4 ounces of another protein source. Make a chicken salad out of Greek yogurt, mix in some turkey breast, or cook it into egg whites.
Just because you’re adding more protein to your diet doesn’t mean you’re locked into that single source of protein!
Why do I need to eat more?
Some coaches will tell you that not eating enough will send you into starvation mode or cause you to gain weight, but I don’t believe that to necessarily be the case…
Don’t think I believe eating less and dieting harder will lead to better results because it doesn’t.
Too great of calorie restriction greatly slows or stalls your fat loss results, so there is no starvation mode.
You need to eat enough to provide your body enough nutrients, maintain your metabolic health, and ensure the health of all body systems.
When you eat too little, you’re limiting your nutrients, slowing your metabolism, and straining your body systems. That means your body holds on a little tighter to the food and nutrients you do put in, thus making fat loss a little tougher.
How do I manage eating while traveling?
Whether it’s work related or just for fun, we all travel (yes, even me….), so this is a pretty common question from clients.
In order to get and maintain results, it’s REALLY important to learn how to balance your nutrition for times of travel or just busy seasons of life because the reality is that the longer you wait to figure this out, the more times you’ll find yourself starting over with your diet and weight loss.
#1 Be Strategic
You’re going on vacation, so you have to assume you’re going to eat some lower quality meals. That’s great! In order to avoid an entire vacation of calorie splurges, you need to be strategic.
Take a look at the entire period, map out the meals you know you’ll splurge a little, and determine the days you can maintain a normal caloric intake.
- Identify Your High-Value Emotional Meals – These are the meals that add a psychological benefit or mood boost because of the environment or people you’re with. The psychological benefit of these high-value emotional meals makes it worth a lower-quality meal. Examples would be family dinners, weddings, or date nights. Now, it’s easy to rationalize every family dinner or date night as a high-value meal, but limit these to meals that are of a less frequency.
- Utilize Intermittent Fasting – It’s not the secret to loss or even maintenance, but it’s a great strategy for saving up calories for later in the day. It’s tough to get high-quality foods on vacation, so it’s better to implement fasting to cut out those lower-quality foods. Try implementing a 14 to 16 hour fast and 8 to 10 hours of eating. You could also think of this as skipping breakfast and morning snacks and eating lunch, dinner, and some type of snack.
- Do NOT Track – If you know you’re going out for a low-quality meal, DO NOT TRACK IT. You already know it’s a calorie splurge, so there’s no sense in tracking and inducing any feelings of guilt. There’s something praiseworthy about diligent and honest tracking but tracking these types of meals is typically linked to feelings of guilt.
#2 Focus on Calories & Protein
Traveling or busy seasons of life are stressful, so why would we want to add to the stress?
I encourage all of my clients to simplify their nutritional strategy while on vacation. A few days on a simplified nutritional strategy won’t hurt your results, in fact it will actually reduce stress, offer more flexibility, and make the trip less stressful overall.
The easiest way to simplify on vacation is to shift to a calorie and protein focus. This allows you to be flexible with your total intake, but also keep yourself filled with the most satiating nutrient, protein. As long as you hit your protein goal and stay within your calories, you’re able to eat to your desire and fill the remainder of your calories with carbs and fats.
#3 Pack Protein-Packed Snacks
If you’re like most, the last thing planned on vacation is what to eat. The No Plan Plan is still not an effective plan because when it comes to vacation, it results in a lot of low-quality food selections.
I recommend my clients either pack a decent amount of protein-packed snacks or hit up the local grocery store upon arrival. This keeps you from munching on low-quality foods all day because they’re less available and you’re already satiated.
Here are my on-the-go protein suggestions:
- Protein Powders
- Tuna Packets
- Protein or Granola Bars
- Greek Yogurt Cups
- Cottage Cheese Cups
- Cheese Sticks
- Sliced Chicken or Turkey
- Hard Boiled Eggs
While you’re at the store, I highly recommend grabbing some high fiber fruits and veggies to munch on to help you avoid calorie-dense foods.
#4 Eat Simply
When you’re out to eat, aim for simple meals. The more complex the meal gets, the greater room for error in preparation and tracking.
Grab the menu and look for the options with the fewest (and healthiest) ingredients.
That EASILY cuts the menu down to a handful of options, so select the most appetizing from those meals and roll with it.
#5 Understand Your Must Have’s
Do you know those things you just can’t say no to?
Disney Ice Cream Sandwich.
Hands down still the best ice cream sandwich I’ve EVER had.
So the next time I go back to Disney, I already know that’s something I MUST HAVE.
We all have those things! There’s no part in denying it or trying to exclude it! You’re more likely to stick to your plan and avoid more caloric splurges if you allow yourself to have those Must Have’s.
Plan them in and use the strategies from above to work them in to your life!
I didn’t workout today, does that mean I eat less?
This one’s easy – NO.
If you’re working with a coach, your caloric intake is set off the range of days you work out and your general activity levels, so one day doesn’t impact your intake levels.
The ONLY time I alter someone’s caloric intake based off activity level is if we see a change in workout frequency or daily activity level that’s going to either be permanent or for an extended period of time.
There’s one other thing to note about this.
Most of us are undereating.
I have a lot of clients who are set at a lower than normal caloric intake because we’re gradually working to get them accustomed to eating the required amount of calories for their body.
Therefore, my point is that while you may expend a bit less for one day, you’re still in a deficit and not putting yourself at risk for hurting your progress.
I just don’t know what to cook, what do I do?
When I went to college I knew how to cook very little, and when I decided I wanted to eat healthy, that was quite the issue.
My best recommendation is to just start cooking.
Start with what you do know how to cook and swap out some healthier substitutes. Mac n’ cheese was a staple of my diet, so I started buying whole wheat noodles and mixing in shredded cheese. Then I bought some pre-cooked frozen chicken that I would heat up and add to the dish. I continued to add things and expand on my skills, and before I knew it, I was more comfortable than ever in the kitchen.
Once you get comfortable, start searching the Internet for some healthier variations of the dishes you love. Now I think Pinterest and Instagram are great for recommendations, but they have a tendency to show you these beautiful looking and complex recipes. Look for simple. Look for something with a short ingredient and instruction list. Get comfortable with those recipes before you go Martha Stewart on me.
Now because I’ve lived in your shoes and have dealt with the fear of the kitchen, I put a cookbook together back in October to simplify things for you. It’s called The Complete Cookbook, and is packed with 30+ recipes. There’s recipes you can make in 30 minutes or less, one’s for the Instant or Crock Pot, and others to help make you the next Rachel Ray. CLICK HERE to get your copy and leave the uncertainty behind!
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.