By Valerie Solomon
I’ve found a rhythm of eating that works for me on a daily basis as a busy mom wanting to get and stay fit. Although I do track macronutrients for a rigid competition prep and coach clients to do the same, on a normal daily basis, I eat in a way and teach a concept I call “Being Protein Minded”.
It’s not realistic to think you can stay on a strict meal plan for life. It’s no fun. What is doable long term is to fit in the foods you like and work within certain parameters that have some flexibility. Learn to track calories for a bit, and then learn how to get in enough protein. Start making lasting changes slowly. It is possible for a busy woman to learn to eat to progress without an endless diet you dread.
What is this “Becoming Protein Minded” stuff?
To become protein minded, I want you to think PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN at every meal and snack. If you are like me and most women I coach, and gravitate towards cereal, bread, crackers, and yummy soups…. that’s fine, but get a side of PROTEIN with it. Want a salad? Have a side of protein. Want that veggie pizza? Think about where you will get in your protein as well. It’s a small mental adjustment that can really help you build the muscle and strength you want. Get protein on your brain!
Tip: Cook extra meat when you cook dinner and keep it in your refrigerator for adding in those protein sides when needed. My freezer is full of leftover options!
Below, I’ll introduce you to some of the dieting concepts from my Busy Mom Gets Fit Next Step Plan.
PART 1: CALORIES: choose your own food options and aim to fit them into the calorie parameters
PART 2: YOUR PROTEIN TARGET RANGE: learn to hit your protein target range daily
It’s helpful when learning to eat in a new way to have a guide. There is a meal plan included for GORGO Premium Subscribers, but please know you CAN eat other things! Continue reading to learn to fit the foods you love into parameters.
PART 1: CALORIES
How many calories should I eat?!
You’ve probably heard the number “1200” tossed around a lot. Often 1200 calories is too few calories for most women. Most women will actually see good weight loss on a 1700 calorie diet if they include exercise at the same time (that’s you!).
The number of calories a woman should eat largely varies based on body type, her level of activity, the state of her metabolism and her goals. That’s a lot of “it depends”. However, a good rule of thumb for a healthy-weighted woman looking to control her weight while staying healthy, is to begin at 10-17 times her bodyweight in calories (10-12 if you want to lose weight, 13-17 if you want to maintain, 18+ to gain). As you progress and want to shed more fat, you can lower your calories slowly over time, but we do not recommend going below 10 times body weight for any extended period of time or staying at 10 x your bodyweight forever.
Graphic: body weight x 10-17 = calories
Do you think this number is too high?! It can be a scary thing to eat MORE to lose weight! If you are a serial dieter and have cut calories for long lengths of time, you know there comes a time where you throw up your hands because you can’t eat any less and your body is still not changing! You’ve stalled your metabolism; your body goes into starvation mode. With a better plan and learning to eat to fuel your body, you can get it running again and you may be surprised that you can eat a greater amount of food and get leaner.
If you want to learn more about this area, I recommend you check out the GORGO Magazine article called “I Want To Lose Fat AND Gain Muscle?!” in our OCTOBER 2015
Track Your Calories
Now that you have a target number to shoot for, it’s a good idea to track your calories for a while until you get in a rhythm of eating at this level or until you reach your goals. This may be as little as one week or as long as a couple months. I recommend using an app such as MyFitnessPal to help you track.
Do I Have to Track Everything Forever?!
It’s not realistic to track calories every day for the rest of your life. At minimum it’s an annoyance and it could promote obsessive food behaviors which I don’t support. Yet it is often very important to track your food initially to reach goals and to learn how much you consume. Consider it a “Food-u-cation”.
To put it into perspective, let’s say you track your food all week and hit your calorie targets each day. Then the weekend rolls around and you just want to relax a bit so you say “Screw it, I deserve to take a break.” In just the 1 day (even 1 meal), you can undo the work you did all week long tracking. You may think what you chose to eat wasn’t “that bad”, but the portion size along with what else you ate that day can take you way off track. Until you innately know what portion sizes and food choices are in accordance with your goals, I recommend you track your food, otherwise be satisfied and accepting if your desired changes don’t materialize.
PART 2: Your Protein Target Range
A key element in building muscle tone, is to eat enough protein to support the muscle growth. I’ve not met a woman starting out on a fitness journey yet that eats enough protein.
By following the workouts in this magazine, you are officially an active women who regularly strength trains. This means you should aim to eat 1-1.2g of protein per pound of body weight. Don’t let this overwhelm you. I’m introducing you to this important concept because you work too hard in your workouts not to get the best results. This is often a missing key for too many women.
Let me hold your hand here to implement this part:
Track your total calories following the guidelines above using MyFitnessPal
Find in the MyFitnessPal app or on your MyFitnessPal diary webpage where “Nutrients” or “Macros” are shown.
Write down the total number of grams of protein you ate for the day.
Divide the total number of grams of protein by your bodyweight in pounds (e.g. you ate 126g of protein / 140 lbs = 0.90 = too low in protein! Target is 1-1.2)
If the number is less than 1-1.2, work at increasing your protein each day.
By knowing your parameters and what that looks like on a plate throughout the day, you can begin to ease up and buckle down when needed. Keep protein on the brain.