Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fat Loss- The Basics

Being FUELED BY NATURE is great and all, but I want to lose fat.  These are some strategies that worked for me.  Three and half years ago I walked into the delivery room weighing 205lbs.  If you read my bio in "About Me" you know a lot about my fitness journey.  The last time I had my body fat measured a few months ago I was between 13-16% (IT IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE-don't let numbers freak you out; just use them as a gauge that you're heading in the right direction).  I feel most athletic and lean in that range.  I'm not that lean right now. . . so I'm modifying my paleo approach to nutrition to accommodate this goal. 

The beauty of going paleo, primal etc. is that you are not bogged down by numbers.  Your primary aim is to feed your body with the best food choices available.  There is no counting calories, no strict measuring of portions, no laborious food journals, etc.  I started my "true" paleo friendly lifestyle by taking the Whole 30 Challenge.  Whole9/Whole30 .  I highly recommend this program and would be happy to support anyone with any questions or "moments of waning motivation" (I know I had plenty of those).  If that program is too excessive for you, but you're still looking to jumpstart into something new there is also the 21 Day Sugar Detox.  21 Day Sugar Detox.  When you first start to cut back on grains, dairy and sugar you will drop weight/fat quickly (especially if you have an excess), but there will come a time when you will plateau.  AND YOU WILL PLATEAU.  If you're goal is to have a healthy relationship with food (i.e. eat the best possible food choices 90% of the time and indulge in fun food and drink on occasion) then being FUELED BY NATURE is a perfect fit for you.  I applaud those women that are confidant and proud of their bodies!  But, if you're looking to push past a plateau of weight/fat loss then you might want to think about these suggestions:

1.   Get enough protein.  Protein prevents dips in energy while also keeping you fuller for longer.  It slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood.  This is why it is recommended that carbs be eaten with a protein source.  Protein leads to lean muscle, and lean muscle plays an integral role in fat loss.  Aim for 3/4-1gram of protein per pound of body weight.  I like to keep my weight in the 120's, so each day my goal is to consume 100-120 grams of protein.  I eat all day- about 5 small meals, each containing 20-25grams of protein.

2.   Measure your food intake.  When I'm not looking to cut fat I "eyeball" my portions and aim to eat "clean" 90% of the time, but when I'm serious about fat loss I get strict.  This winter I took a break from logging everything I ate and simply made sure most of meals consisted of vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats (and practiced portion control on my unhealthy food choices).  Now that I'm serious about leaning out I've started measuring again.  I HAVE to watch what I eat.  I gain fat easily and quickly (specifically in my butt-that is why I will be posting butt workouts in the near future; you many not be able to spot reduce, but you sure can work to build muscle in your "problem" areas). 

Steps for successful measuring:

Keep a food diary
- I use FitDay (free) .  I also like to use the free My Fitness Pal App. (just be careful with this food log; it recommends fewer protein grams and higher carbs; I just ignore it when I go into red with protein).  There are many other online food diaries to choose from including and  These programs take the guess work out of counting calories, fat grams, carb grams, sugar grams, protein grams. . . The databases are HUGE, so many of your common foods are easily found. 

Purchase a food scale- Most of us know a portion of meat should fit into the palm of our hand, but do you really know how many grams of protein you're eating?  Weigh your food.  It takes an extra minute.

Love your measuring cups- I bought really cute measuring cups, so that I would have "fun" measuring my food. 

3.   Watch sugar and starchy carb consumption.  Carbs do not make you fat.  Be mindful of how you incorporate them in your diet, however.  Using one of the tools listed above you can determine exactly how many carbohydrate grams you should be consuming to lose fat and gain lean (not bulky) muscle.  If you're limiting your caloric intake and consuming at least 100 grams of protein that doesn't leave room for downing countless grams of carbohydrates.  Tips: 
* Limit fruit if you're looking to lean out.  Eat fruit in the morning or after a workout.
* Eat carbs with a protein.  Even "healthy" carb choices should be accompanied with a protein source.

* Carbs are quick energy resource.  If you're getting ready to climb into bed do you need a quick energy source?  No.  Taper starchy carbs down as the day progresses.
* Limit starchy carbs.  Stick with cruciferous vegetables.

* Ask yourself why you "need" that cup of whole wheat pasta.  Is it because you're looking to feel full?  Often whole grains are used to "keep you full".  Is that the healthiest choice?  A big plate of cabbage and two eggs "keeps you full" as well.  How do I know?  That is what I had for dinner.

4.   Lift heavy weights.   Incorporate heavy weights into your workout regimen. Women always say they want to tone.  If you don't have any muscle built what do you expect to tone?  Fat doesn't tone.  Lean muscle is needed to see visible definition. Another argument for weight lifting is the fat burning potential lean muscle has while you are at rest.  Lean muscle also affects your growth hormone and testosterone levels- both of which aid in fat loss. 

5.   Detox high estrogen levels in your body.  Elevated levels of estrogen in your body may effect your ability to burn fat.  You can lower estrogen by eating foods that help detox the hormone (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, green tea).  Avoid soy which studies have linked to elevated estrogen levels.  Pesticides and BPAs have also been associated with altering estrogen within the body.  Avoid plastic products as much as possible and start making the switch to organic foods.  High cortisol levels from stress may also affect your estrogen.  Lowering cortisol can be accomplished by low intensity workouts such as walking or yoga.  High intensity workouts like weight-training and interval training can aid in lowering cortisol long term.  Varying the intensity of your exercise truly aids in your overall fitness.  Try doing high intensity cardio workouts (sprints for example) 2-3 times a week, resistance training (lifting heavy things) 4-5 times a week, combined with days reserved for low intensity exercise.  I do yoga on Fridays to "lengthen" and stretch out my muscles after a long intense week.

6.   Eat.  You must have a caloric deficit to lose weight, but cutting calories alone will not improve body composition.  All calories are not created equally.  You will lose weight by eating 1000 calories a day of chocolate cake, but this won't help you lose fat and look lean.  Starving yourself to lose weight will lead to a loss of muscle.  You NEED muscle to change the shape of your body and to burn fat.  I'm about 5'5" and roughly 125 pounds.  Pounds are meaningless (except to use as a basic tool).  Right now I'm eating between 1200-1800 calories (depending on workout intensity) of protein and veggies every 3-5 hours.  Much less would lead to a loss of muscle and awaken the body's propensity to hold onto fat for survival.

In my effort to support your protein intake here is a vegetarian friendly Protein Brownie recipe that I have modified to make "paleoish"!  Happy eating!

Protein Brownies:1/2 cup almond flour
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (Jay Robb brand recommended)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Stevia to taste/desired sweetness
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Come visit my Facebook page Cave Princess for more recipes and bits of information!


  1. Wow! Fabulous article!...Very interesting! :) A trick for me is not to stock my pantry with wrong foods. I love to cook and found what's in my kitchen can get the better of me. I'm ok at a restaurant, event, etc. Funny (curious). Thanks for the recipe. I'll try it. :)

    Returning your visit from the blog hop. Hope you're able to visit my site. I also host a hop every Thurs - Sun. Come check it out!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Sherlinda. I appreciate the support and look forward to reading your page. I'm the same way! I can't keep certain trigger foods in the house :)

  3. Hey there! Great article.. I'm definitely going to be incorporating some of this into my summer routine. Thanks for stopping by my blog.. I think the goody brush is the way to go for your long haired ladies :) Following you and looking forward to your updates :)

  4. Thank you for saying hello, Thrifty Miss Smith! I appreciate your time... and look forward to discovering new ways to become more thrifty!