Oh hey there! So last week we went deep into macros: what they are, how they differ and what that means for fat loss. This week, I want to expand on that and tell you when to eat those macros for best results.
**Note: if you would rather watch then read, scroll to the bottom for the video version**
Quick recap, the macros are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Fat takes the longest to digest and it's also the most calorie dense. Protein is in the middle and then carbohydrates digest the quickest.
Fat, protein, and carbs, have different purposes in your body. Once you know that, it becomes a lot easier to figure out what you should be eating and why, based on what you're doing and what your goals are.
Fat is very specific, it builds your hormones. If you're not eating enough fat, you have zero chance of having healthy, balanced hormone levels, and you open yourself up to a host of problems including increased fat storage. That's not good, right? We want to make sure we're eating enough fat for that. Fat also helps to balance blood sugar, because it tends to keep your insulin levels down, which is really important. Fat is also really important for building your brain. To to recap, you need fat for low and stable blood sugar, which means a steady flow of energy. You also need fat to build your hormones.
Protein is structural, protein literally is there to build. It builds your muscles obviously, it builds your skin, it builds your hair. Protein also increases metabolism, which is really important because it makes your body work hard when you eat it, which is fantastic. Protein is really important to keep in mind when you are looking to lose fat, and that’s because it revs your metabolism but also because it is used to build and repair lean muscle which is metabolically active tissue, and lean muscle is the only chance you have of increasing your metabolic rate for good, all the time, no matter what you eat. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body burns just hanging out.
When you're exercising to build lean muscle, but you're not eating enough protein, what happens is the muscles that you already have end up being damaged during exercise, and because you're not ingesting enough protein to repair them and then build on to them, you do the opposite, and you actually lower your muscle mass. If you're currently on a low calorie diet, and you're exercising, and you're losing weight, odds are you're losing muscle mass, which is so not good, because muscle mass is your chance of keeping your metabolism high as you age, which helps to prevent future weight gain.
Moving on to carbohydrates, carbohydrates are your source of quick energy. Carbohydrates digest quickly and they digest down to sugar. That sugar goes out into your blood really quickly and allows your body to have a quick source of energy.
So to recap: protein is building muscle, fat is slow, steady energy & hormones and carbs are fast, quick, ready to go energy
Now let's talk about how to eat our meals to make sense of what we know about fat, protein, and carb. This is what your meals should look like:
You want to have breakfast within an hour or so of waking up. You want to put some food, some fuel, into your body. That's so you start the day with balanced blood sugar. As we talked about last week, balanced blood sugar is absolutely crucial when it comes to sustained fat loss. It will put you into the fat burning hormonal zone versus the fat storing hormonal zone. We want to make sure we eat something. It doesn't have to be solid food, there's lots of ways to be creative if you're not hungry in the mornings, but you want to get some macros into your system pretty early on, okay? That's number one.
Number two, in the mornings, in 99% of cases, you want your breakfast to consist of fat and protein, and no carbs. Fat, protein, zero carbs, and that's completely opposite to what most of you are probably eating. Because the traditional, the standard way we eat, is a completely carb centric morning, right? We tend to eat bagels, or cereal, or oatmeal. We tend to eat all of this food that is totally carb based in the mornings which sets us up for total fat loss failure. Basically, if you are going to have carbohydrates in the mornings and that's it, you're going to spike your blood sugar, you're going to create the whole blood sugar roller coaster we talked about last week (find that explanation HERE), which you don't want to do, and it's going to result in fat storage, sugar cravings & low energy in the afternoon.
Instead we want to focus our morning on fat and on protein. This makes sense because in the morning we need slow, sustained energy release. We want to make sure our metabolism is firing up as high as we can get it from the get go. We know that fat gives us slow, sustained energy, we know that protein fires up our metabolism. That's why we want to start our mornings with fat and protein. If you've followed my page, or read my things, or watch my videos, you probably know my breakfast, because I talk about it all the time. If you don't, my breakfast literally every morning is two eggs and half an avocado over greens, with salsa, or hot sauce.
If you can't do eggs, that's fine, you can have something like a chia pudding or there are a ton of high fat, high protein, crepe and pancake recipes out there. If you need help coming up with some good breakfast options, leave a comment, send me a message or post to the community wall (join free HERE), and I will help you.
If you have a breakfast like that, you should be good until lunch. There shouldn't be a need to have a mid-morning snack, because that's a ton of calories, it's good quality fat and protein, it's going to digest for about three or four hours. It's going to keep you feeling full.
At lunchtime you can introduce your first foray into carbohydrates. Again, I would still focus more on fat and protein, because, again, in the afternoon we still want that slow, steady release of energy with stable blood sugar. You know, if you're going to have the traditional salad for lunch, which is fine, salad for lunch is great, but I see this mistake happening A LOT. We have salad for lunch, but that salad is just pure carbohydrates: it's greens with vegetables, and some fat free salad dressing, and that's lunch. It's a massive plate of it, so you feel like you're full, but the problem is there's no fat and there's no protein.
If you're eating that way, then basically what's happening is, like we talked about last week, it's digesting super quickly so all the energy contained in that salad is shooting right out into your blood. Your muscles can't handle that amount of energy all at once, they don't need it, so it gets stored as fat. Even though you're eating a salad, you're in the hormonal zone of fat storage, because your insulin spikes and tends to be high, and that's because there's lots of sugars in that meal with no fat or protein to add balance. If you're going to have the salad for lunch, which is great, you need to add fat and you need to add protein.
One of the easiest ways is to go ahead and get a can of tuna, and get my favourite avocado mayo (because it's amazing and such a great source of fat), make a nice little tuna salad, and put it on top of a bed of greens. You can have that done in maybe three minutes. You have fat, you have protein, and you've got your veggies. Amazing. You can also add nuts, seeds or hemp hearts to your salad for other great sources of fat. The important takeaway is that you need to be really aware of what it is that you're putting in that salad, to make sure you're getting the fat and the protein.
One of my favourite things to do for lunch, is just doing leftovers from dinner the night before. I teach my clients to do this, because it saves time, it makes it much more likely that you're not going to go off the rails, and run out of time in the morning, and then have to go and get fast food for lunch.
If you factor lunches into the amount you make for dinner you're going to have a balanced meal at lunchtime instead of a salad that doesn't have enough fat & protein, or instead of resorting to sandwich or a wrap, where your main source of energy in that case is going to be the carbohydrates. Once again, you don't need quick energy right now. You need slow, sustained energy to be at work all afternoon.
If you're eating a big lunch with enough fat and protein, you probably don't need to snack in the afternoon. Honestly, that's the case 90% of the time, once we get those bigger meals sorted out. Leaving space between meals is a good thing! It allows your body's digestive system to build back up the enzymes that it needs to digest food, which is definitely a good thing. It also allows your body to to tap into stored energy, aka fat, especially if you're eating high fat, low carb, or keto. If you're continuously feeding your body, if you're snacking all day long you're always putting energy into your body that you are then having to burn first before you can tap into any stored energy.
If you’re having a hard time losing fat, without a doubt, this is the way you need to be eating. You need to be eating your focused meals with your fat and your protein, and you need to avoid snacking.
That being said, if you're hungry, obviously eat something. I'm not an advocate for starving yourself, listen to your body. That's the most important thing. The takeaway here is don't just snack out of habit, really try to tap in and see if you're actually hungry. Got it?
If you do need to snack the best things to have on hand is homemade trail mix. Go to The Bulk Barn and buy six or seven different types of nuts, seeds, dried coconut chips, etc and literally just mix those together. They're a great snack, because again, there's protein and fat, mainly fat, and so when you snack on a small handful of nuts, you're going to be full. You're going to get that energy in a slow, sustained, steady fashion, just like we talked about.
Now let’s talk dinner. Dinnertime, interestingly enough, is probably the best time to have your biggest carbohydrate meal of the day. That doesn’t necessarily mean high carb, it just means that the majority of the carbs you are eating in a day should be focused around dinner. Now the best options for dinner carbs are what I call them the paleo carbs which include things like sweet potatoes, some fruit or starchier veggies like peas, beans, corn, etc.
There's a couple different reasons we choose to eat our main carbs at dinnertime. Reason number one is when we eat carbohydrates, we inevitably cause more of a blood sugar spike which causes more insulin to be released, and leaves us open to more carb cravings later on. If you save your carbohydrates until the end of the day, then those little blood sugar fluctuations are going to be happening when you're sleeping, for the most part. You're not going to even notice them. Then by the time you wake up in the morning, you're going to be over it, and life will be fine. You'll move on and have your fat and protein breakfast. .
The second reason that you're going to want to focus your carbohydrates more at night, is because your body actually slows down on the processing of fat and protein while you’re sleeping but interestingly enough, studies have shown that your metabolism actually speeds up the processing of carbohydrates. Your body is literally primed to burn carbs at night. If you are eating your main carbs in the evening, then you're much more likely to burn them faster overnight and not store them as fat, which is obviously the end goal with everything we are talking about.
Now let’s talk about the late night, or before bed snacking, because that’s always a big question.If you feel the need to snack at night there are a couple different routes to go. If you want some carbohydrates, the best thing to do is have some fiber filled carbohydrates, Berries with some coconut cream would be a great decision.
If you are eating very low carb, like a ketogenic diet, then what you would want to do is snack on fat bombs at night (recipe HERE). If you're eating higher fat, then you're just still going to focus on the fat, because your body is going to be primed to burn fat as energy anyways.
Now if you are working out it, this way of eating changes a little bit, but it depends on the TYPE of workout you are doing because there are two types of exercise: aerobic & anaerobic.
This is your cardio, jogging, running, elliptical machine etc. It’s what gets your heart rate up, but isn't necessarily strength fueled. Aerobic exercise can use fat for energy. It does not need glucose or sugar, so you don't really have to change anything in terms of the way you're eating, especially beforehand.
Fasted cardio is a great way to tap into stored body fat. Your body can literally burn fat and use that to fuel your cardio, or your aerobic workouts. If you feel like you need to eat something beforehand, like a light protein snack, that’s fine. Then afterwards you'll probably want to have some nice protein and maybe a bit of fat. If you're working out in the morning, just having a boiled egg a half an hour before you go for a run, and then having your full breakfast after works really well.
This is strength fuelled like high intensity interval training, Crossfit or lifting heavy, heavy weights.
When you're doing power workouts, or strength workouts, they use an anaerobic process, and that process has to be fueled by carbohydrates. Fat cannot fuel this process. That doesn't mean you're not burning fat, because you definitely are and I would argue that strength based power workouts are much more effective when it comes to burning fat, but you need to actually fuel that activity with some sugar.
What I usually suggest to my clients, is before your workout have half a banana with some nut butter. That is usually is enough to give you the energy to really power through that workout. Then after your workout, to repair and build that all important lean muscle, you need to eat for recovery within about 45 mins,.
Recovery meals should again provide some carbs, but mainly should be focused around protein. In this case one of the easiest ways to go about it just to have your other half banana and a quick protein shake. If you like more food based sources of protein, that's fine, have a chicken breast and some sweet potatoes. That would be, again, good carbohydrates, good protein for afterwards.
No. 1 Diet Fail
Let’s just quickly talk the #1 diet fail for a minute, because inevitably when I talk about what to eat & when, this comes up.
Here goes: eat less, exercise more doesn’t work.
I know you want to argue with me right now but if you look at the data, if you look at the scientific studies and the meta analysis of diets then you can’t because traditional diets where we cut calories and exercise more fail 95% of the time over a five year period. Which means everybody gains the weight back. It doesn't work. I could talk all day about why it doesn't work, but it doesn't work. Just look at the stats. It doesn't work, Say it over and over again. Cutting calories doesn't work. It makes you miserable, you won't lose fat (or you won't lose it long term). If you are losing weight, you're probably losing muscle mass, which sucks, because your metabolism is tanking, which means you're going to gain more weight back in the future.
What matters when it comes to fat loss is knowing what food does, knowing how food digests, how that affects your blood sugar, which in turn affects your hormones, and how that affects being in a state of hormonal fat gain or hormonal fat loss. That's what it comes down to.
It's not calories that dictate whether you're gaining weight or losing weight, it's your hormones. It's a specific cascade of hormones that causes you to store fat, or to burn it.
If you want to go deeper, I run a webinar every second Tuesday. I have one coming up Tuesday, June 20th at 8 pm EST. We spend an hour, and we basically go hardcore, a little bit more in depth about fat, protein, and carbs, and how to use them to lose fat. If you want to sign up for that it's free, and you can click below: