Hunger – The Biggest Weight-Loss Obstacle?

hungry
Today marks the second consecutive day in a row in which I’ve immediately come across a doom and gloom weight-loss article. Perhaps this just a formula for writers to drive a home their main argument, but I think these articles have a way of beating down our resolve, causing a double hand throw in the air and a long look in the ‘goodies’ closet to once again celebrate defeat.
You can read the article in question here, but I’ll save you 1,000 words of reading by simply saying that the initial position of the article is that it’s purely hunger that is the true obstacle of weight-loss. Now, if you’re on a severely restrictive diet (which either means you’re in a life or death situation and under a Doctor’s direct care, or you’ve chosen a really, really poor diet) of course hunger will be a problem. However, while there are always obstacles to losing weight and even maintaining your target weight, I wouldn’t have placed ‘hunger’ in even the top 5. In fact, when I work with clients, I can’t tell you how many times I repeat “do not let yourself get hungry”. This may sound obvious, but the trick is to have a solid plan and stick to it. By doing so, you can basically eliminate hunger, or, at very least, as the article soundly suggested at one point, be easily able to cope with it if your next meal is right around the corner.

Here’s a sample of the article:

Is it possible to lose weight without hunger? Logic tells us it’s not. If dropping pounds were easy, we’d all be wearing the same size jeans we wore in high school.
The reason it’s not easy is that your body is trying to protect you. “It sucks to diet, unfortunately,” says Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., author of The Fat Loss Prescription. “Our bodies fight to regain that weight.”
Not everyone regains it, to be sure. In a Penn State study, about one in six adults who lost at least 10 percent of their maximum body weight were able to keep it off for a year or longer.
Average sustained weight loss in that group was 42 pounds. But that still leaves five out of six who regained some or all of it.
“Hunger becomes an issue whenever you try to lose weight,” Dr. Nadolsky says. “It’s difficult to continue to eat less when we have a physiological drive to eat more.”
When everything under the hood is running smoothly, hunger should reflect how much food you need to keep your body at its current size, give or take a pound or two.

Again, I recognize that the article might be using these supporting statements to set up the “8 ways to combat hunger” as mentioned in the title of the article, but I just don’t believe it’s as big an issue as it wants you to believe. Clients demonstrate a more difficult time with letting go of poor eating habits (read: cravings) than anything else, but those can easily be dealt with. If hunger is your biggest problem with your weight-loss program, it’s likely the program that is at fault, not you. Overly restrictive diets, or weight-loss programs with high intensity workouts without properly nutrition could be two big drivers.

The Misinterpretation Of “Diet”

diets
For a lot of people, simply hearing the word “diet” is enough to put them in a brain-locking tail-spin with visions of deprivation and carrot sticks.  The word seems to be synonymous with hunger pains, bland food, and tiny portions, conjuring feelings of not only boredom, but pure dread.  This goes hand in hand with black and white thinking, starting with complete over-indulgence (a period of time where we don’t consider food quality and portion control at all) to a 180 degree swing to absurd rigidness in an attempt to compensate for bad behavior.

An example of this rigidness is our own 30 day fat shred program.  It’s designed to help you quickly reset your body by feeding it high quality food and removing the processed junk that is breaking down your body. However, it’s a program with a fixed length.  It’s not a practical life-long eating plan.  It’s meant to reset and then reintroduce foods smartly and with true moderation.  It helps not only with weight loss but with food addictions, namely sugar.

What’s missing from this life-sucking loop is implementing a feasible and adoptable eating plan.  Sure, you love your pancakes and can’t imagine a life without them, but do you really need them 4 times a week?  When food is a significant part of fabric of your life, it’s likely being used to deal with emotions and, newsflash, it’s not helping you cope, but actually making matters worse.

Where To Start?

Let’s assume, though, that you’re ready to create an adoptable plan, one that’s meant to be a way of life rather than a fixed-length diet.  Where do you start? Well, there are different approaches.  If food isn’t an addiction for you and you want to jump right in, you can start by following the 80/20 rule. Take 80% of your calories from whole, unprocessed, real foods, and save 20% of calories for indulgences.  Doing so will allow you to avoid feelings of deprivation without overdoing it by forcing good portion control.  Remember, the last bite of our favorite food is never as good as the first, so no sense in binge eating and derailing your entire week when you’re getting so little reward.

If you’re someone who needs to step down slowly, you can start small and make incremental changes each week until you reach the end goal of 80/20.  You can start by using a different ratio, or, by adding more unprocessed foods and vegetables at the start (which will make you too full for more junk) and eliminate more processed and unnatural foods each week.

Healthy foods aren’t boring

If you’re in the mindset that eating healthy means boring, you’re not following the right recipes. Cooking with unprocessed, fresh, natural foods makes delicious meals that won’t invite post meal crashing, bloating, and poor digestion.  As a bonus, the more meals you replace, you’ll notice your cravings for heavily salted foods with a lot of sugar and fat will diminish.  Remember, however, that you still can have the foods you crave, just a little less frequently and in smaller doses.

So, let’s change how we react to the word diet.  Let’s stop associating it with negative feelings and displeasure and start associating it simply to the construct of how you eat.  After all, your personal diet (how you eat) means something completely different than a cabbage soup diet, right?

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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5 Ways To Increase Your Motivation

motivation

One of the most common weight-loss questions is “how to stay motivated?”.  It definitely makes the top 3 list and is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Sure, most of us can white knuckle through a week of clean eating and working out, but long term success comes from translating that into a life-long commitment.

To help satisfy this oft-asked question, here are the top 5 sources of motivation for me.

  • Calorie Tracking – I don’t know why so many weight loss programs are so quick to advertise “no counting calories!” It’s as if this simple and impactful activity is time-consuming and tedious. While this may have been the case a decade or two ago, using a free app on your smartphone has reduced it to child’s play.  I literally spend 1 minute a day logging what I eat and the payback is phenomenal.  It holds you accountable to your target, it opens your eyes to what you’re eating, and it makes it snap to recognize easy swaps that can make a big impact on your intake
  • Activity Tracking – For the same basic awareness principle as calorie tracking, understanding how many calories you’re burning each week is the other side of the puzzle (the calories out vs. the calories in above). Quite simply, it will make you aware of your intensity and your total calorie expenditure both of which will make you more aware of how long it takes to burn off a simple 20oz bottle of soda.  Knowing that will make you want to skip it.  Again, it’s about awareness
  • A well-constructed plan – Sadly, it’s entirely too common for people to have no plan at all. Instead, trying to live by the concept of moderation, which is not only imprecise, but completely underestimated.  A well-constructed plan (which will count calories, track workouts, have goals, consider macronutrient ratios, food quality, and many other elements) will keep you motivated by not only keeping you accountable, but by providing you with a specific road-map rather than wandering blindly without results.  A plan of simple moderation will allow you to have birthday cake at an office party on a whim.  A well-constructed plan will have a time when that’s allowed, but will not give you carte blanche access to derailing treats.
  • Friendly Competition – nothing motivates like a little competition. Grab a friend and do a class or go through a strength training workout together. Without even giving much though, I bet you find that you automatically up your intensity when you know someone else is watching.  That’s just inherent to our nature.
  • Results – Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing (for me) motivates like results. I dare you to find success in a 3 week program and completely fall off in week 4 (this will ONLY happen if your plan is entirely too restrictive or entirely too grueling). The key is to have a well-constructed plan that you can live with long term.  If you can master that, than the results will keep you hanging on like nothing else.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

Depressing New Study Links Eating Carbs With An Increased Risk Of Cancer

carbs

I’m not a fan of using scare tactics, but I think this is a pretty important message.  According to an article by Sarah  Bruning,  posted on Woman’s Health website (read the article here) :

study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, people whose diets included a large percentage of high-glycemic foods (think: white bread, potatoes, refined/processed foods) saw their risk for lung cancer (the number one cancer killer of women) soar by 49 percent.

You may have heard about the low glycemic diet, and if not for yourself, then certainly as it relates to diabetics (though I would argue the benefits of following a diabetics diet), and hopefully you understand that this very important index is what separates the good carbs from the bad.

In fact, I’m a little upset that the title of the article simply said “Carbs” with no such delineation.  It’s important to make this distinction so that you know how to remove the dangerous ones from the truly good ones with tremendous health benefits.

Generally speaking, the good variety has fiber, which slows the digestion process and prevents blood sugar levels from spiking.   This avoids the body’s natural insulin response, which is why it’s important for diabetics.  Insulin also promotes fat storage, which is why it’s bad for anyone else (among other things, as this study proves).  Higher fiber carbohydrates include a wide variety of vegetables and whole grains.  However, please learn to read nutrition labels, the whole wheat bread you buy may just be a refined flour product, which doesn’t have the appropriate levels of fiber to consider it a ‘good carb’.

And the new link to cancer?  According to Sarah Bruning:

Higher levels of insulin can then spur an increase in proteins called insulin-growth factors, which have been linked to a greater likelihood of developing lung cancer.

A quick google search will get you a full list of foods with their index rating (higher is worse), but also be aware that the true measure of a food’s quality would be it’s glycemic load, not necessarily the index.  The difference?  The load considers the volume carb contained in the food, rather than just how quickly the carbohydrate metabolizes.  For example, watermelon has a high glycemic index, but a low glycemic load, simply because it’s over 90% water.  The sugar contained is so diluted that it will do little to spike your blood glucose level.

Click here for a quick lesson.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

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5 Reasons You Need To Be Strength Training

dumbbells

For most of us (I may dare to say all of us), there is a vanity element to weight management.  Sure, we love the ancillary benefits like lower blood pressure, stress relief, and higher bone density, but honestly, a lot of it boils down to looking and feeling great.  That being the case, I’m always surprised to learn that most people identify ‘working out’ with steady state cardio.  People are quick to talk about going for a run or hitting the treadmill/elliptical, especially women.

Sadly, I think the biggest general objection to strength training is the fear of getting big muscles (again, especially woman). The truth is, though, it takes an extreme amount of dedication to diet and exercise to get in ‘body building ‘shape, far far far more than most of us would commit to without that being the end-goal.  Therefore, it’s impossible to do it ‘by accident’.

Even more sadly, we over look weight training which, as it turns out, is the best way to alter our current bodies.  Sure, steady state cardio can help lose fat, but strength training will help change overall body composition, giving us sexy lean muscle mass that not only looks healthy, but creates body symmetry.

I believe in strength training so much that if I had to choose between it and cardio as my sole means to work out, I would choose strength training without a second thought.

To prove this point, here are 5 great reasons you should be strength training, either as the basis for your routine or, at very least, as supplemental training.

  • Lean muscle is more expensive – The more muscle you add, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. (remember, adding muscle doesn’t mean adding size, it means replacing fat with high density muscles tissue that takes up less room but eats more calories.  So your body still shrinks in overall size, not swells)
  • Energy and Mood boosting – Strength training elevates endorphin levels, which make you feel happy. Strength training has shown to be a natural anti-depressant
  • Stronger Tendons, ligaments, and bones – it will help you stay fit and strong, especially as you age, when the body naturally loses muscularity and balance. It also improves posture and coordination.
  • Helps with disease prevention as we age – Studies have shown it can help type 2 diabetics with glucose control, can help with arthritis pain, and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
  • Okay, Fine, you’ll look amazing – Let’s not deny the number one motivation for working out. To look and feel great! Strength training can change your body, and for the better.  Stop thinking body building and start thinking fitness models.  And for those that will say oh they’re too skinny or too ripped, that’s a function of diet, it’s VERY hard to get that low in body fat.  Without a perfect diet you will simply look slim, fit, and healthy.  Far better than if you only did long sessions of steady state cardio, which will make you look thin and stringy (think: distance runners)

It’s time to stop associating weight/strength training with Arnold and his fellow body builders and start recognizing that the lean healthy bodies that you envy in magazines are built by fitness routines that regularly include strength training.

 
Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

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How Your Brain Is Controlling Your Eating Habits

obey

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Imagine for a minute that food had no taste. No matter what you ate, it didn’t’ register on your taste buds, feed your brain signals, or make you react in any way, positively or negatively. How did reading that make you feel? Did it sound terrible knowing you wouldn’t ever be able to feel the elation of eating chocolate, or taste the decadence of your favorite cake? Or did you think how cool it would be to not have to wrestle with food addictions?
The latter is an interesting response, because it means you recognize that it would make it much easier to eat a more healthful diet. It inherently removes bad habits, cravings, and obsessions. I have little doubt that if you removed taste from the equation, most of you would be able to pull together a relatively healthy diet.
Consider then, that the issue with obesity we face in this country is not lack of knowledge, but lack of implementation (okay, there are more factors including an abundance of inexpensive poor quality foods and emotional eating to name two). And the biggest reason is our association with food. This is not will-power, as you will often blame for your weak moments, this is cultural, habitual, and yes, good old fashioned brain mechanics (you may have read that some studies show that sugar can be addictive as drugs).
It dawned on me while breaking some unhealthy habits developed over the holidays that it’s really just the brain at work. The reward system that tells us to go eat this food and I’ll deliver this response (usually in the form of dopamine, which makes us happy). I noticed that when the cue for my particular habit triggered my brain to send me signals, it was all just smoke and mirrors. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t even bored. My brain was now simply wired to tell me to eat based on this particular cue (in my case, it was based on the day of the week, which I had previously designated as a cheat day to get through the holidays without overwhelming feelings of deprivation). So while I ate very clean most days, when my former cheat day came, my brain knew it, and it went crazy trying to get me to eat the foods I had fed it from November to January. When I really thought about, the only real answer I could give myself is “what’s the point”. The only reason I had previously given into this habit after January 1st when it was supposed to stop, was to simply shut my brain up. Much like a nicotine addict will use for the sole reason of staving off the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It has a calming effect to make the brain stop signaling you. Of course, the more you give into this signal, the stronger this becomes.
So how do we break this cycle? Simple, much like nicotine, the key isn’t “to use” to remove the withdrawal, or, even to cut down (which only means you’re dealing with withdrawal for a longer period of time, again, making the habit stronger). The only way to fix it is to stop completely.
And here’s the funny thing – sure, it will be tough the first few times because your brain will be screaming for you, but much like a child, once it learns that the little tantrum won’t make you give in, it just stops. Once this happens, and the habit is broken, you’ll begin to wonder how you get locked into it in the first place. It just completely loses its hold over you.
As a next step, be mindful of the cues that trigger a behavior that you’d like to change. First, ask yourself what the point is. What did I really get of repeating this behavior other than quieting my brain? More importantly, how did you feel after? Often there are negative feelings associated with giving into a habit you know is deconstructive. Pay attention over the next few days and try to be aware of this happening in your own routine.
Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.


 
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Victoria Secret Models Diet And Exercise Just Like We Do. Oh, OK!

va

A few comments on a recent article that was written by Jordi Lippe from Hollywood Take, you can read it here.  I’m not sure what I expected to read, but I figured  the main idea would be simply that they don’t do anything outside what I consider sensible weight management.  Clean diet, a strong exercise program, and clear and measureable goals.  Afterall, we only make this more complicated than it is because we’re bombarded with Marketing pitches and misinformation with the intention of selling empty promises.  By the time I finished this relatively short article, however, I was a little confused on the point.  Here’s why:

Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jasmine Tookes have the kinds of bodies that send countless women running to the gym. But the VS hotties aren´t exactly limiting their diets to carrots and celery!

Hollywood Take caught up with the two beauties at a Valentine´s Day Gift Picks event at Victoria’s Secret Herald Square, and they told us they love to indulge in high-calorie meals like the rest of us do.

“I don’t avoid carbs,” Jasmine Tookes, 25, told HT. “Give me carbs! I love pizza.” 

Fellow Angel Elsa Hosk, 27, couldn’t agree more. “I don’t avoid carbs,” she told us. “I have a crazy indulgence that I do a little bit too often. I get a grilled cheese sandwich at Chelsea Market at a place called Lucy’s Whey almost every day. It’s so good! But if I have an important shoot, I’ll cut down on my grilled cheese sandwiches.”

Okay, so they know how to work in cheat meals (so do I) while keeping a really strong and principled program.  Hoorah!  But wait, after reading this, did you get the wrong message? Did this justify indulgences?  I came out of this thinking wow, they only workout three days a week and eat pizza and grilled cheese.

That’s obviously not what’s going on.  While they do have the benefit of being young, you really need to keep on point to keep body fat percentages that low.  So while the message is great that you don’t have to give up everything to keep thin, I would be careful in over estimating how clean people in this shape have to be.  If you are anything like me, this article made you want to hit the local pizzeria for a fresh slice!

Having trouble losing weight?  We can help! Check out our online coaching page.  For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

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Should You Give Up Dairy To Lose Weight?

dairy

This was the title of a recent article by Julie Stewart from fitness magazine.  She writes “Here’s a surprising statistic: One in 10 millennials are vegan, according to a report in Nutrition Business Journal. Call it a lifestyle or call it an elimination diet—either way, it’s picking up steam due in part to like backers like Beyoncé. (Who doesn’t want to be a little more like Queen Bey?!) And even Khloé Kardashian recently claimed that she lost 11 pounds just by cutting cheese and milk from her diet.”

Having backers like Beyonce, Khloe, and social media tends to send things viral:

“Social media has also spread the word about blogs and other media touting veganism. Many restaurants have added vegan options, and stores are stocking more plant-based substitutes for meat, dairy, and egg products, eliminating some of the roadblocks that used to make vegan diets hard to stick to, she says.

Ditching dairy for environmental or animal welfare reasons is totally a personal choice, but going vegan as a way to lose weight is a little more complicated. Just because it worked for Khloé doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have the same effect on you.”

Aside from the obvious rebuttal that dairy does have its benefits by being good sources of Vitamin D (something too many of us are showing deficiency) and calcium, if your diet is already a mess, simply removing dairy isn’t going to do much good.  This is true for any one type of food you may read to eliminate (or add, as is the case with the recent study showing protein consumption will aide in fat-loss).  PS, this is certainly not a knock against veganism, this is more of a warning to those with a traditional diet to be careful about removing categories of food without understand the role it plays in your diet and, more importantly, to be more aware of what else you’re eating.

The best approach for weight-loss is to be sensible.  Eat a wide variety of food to ensure you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.  Cut back on processed foods and added sugars, get your exercise, and watch your calories.

This is what it’s meant to live mindfully, and you can check out our full Mindful Living program here.

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3 Little Things You Can Do To Immediately Benefit Your Health

change

If the idea of becoming healthier has been nagging you, but you just can’t bring yourself to adopt a full program, here are three little ways to make effective changes immediately:

  1. Learn to read food labels – A lot of information can be gained by glancing at food labels, in the matter of 5 seconds you can become more mindful of what you’re eating
    1. Calorie Count – Be aware of serving size, too often it doesn’t fall inline with how much of the food you’ll actually eat in a sitting
    2. Carb and Protein grams – Just by having daily targets for Protein and Carbs can make an impact on your food choices. I generally keep carbs at about 40-50% of total calories
    3. Ingredients – 2 big things to notice are the number of ingredients (be especially mindful of the ones you can’t pronounce) and the first few ingredients. If sugar or white flour are high on the list it’s likely a poor quality food
    4. Sugar count – I keep ‘added’ sugar to 37 grams per day or less. Fruit is not counted toward this total
    5. Fat content – aside from fat having more than double the calories per gram than either protein or carbohydrate, you want to limit saturated fat and remove trans-fats
  2. Slow Down! – Even if you choose to indulge in your favorite comfort food, be more mindful of how fast you’re eating and slow down!  Not only will you enjoy it more, but the longer it takes you to eat the more likely it will be that your brain will get the signal from your stomach that you’re full.  You’ll naturally eat less
  3. Exercise, but start small – This one is obvious, but a huge objection for must of us.  The good news is that you don’t have to go crazy to reap the benefits.  Start off really small until it becomes a habit.  20 minute workouts just 3 times a week is enough to get started.  YouTube has an insane number of free workouts that will  keep boredom at bay, and working along with a video will push you further than working out on your own.  Look for Tabata, AMRAP, and EMOM workouts which get the most out of the short duration workouts.  Once you start seeing benefits you’ll likely want to ratchet up the duration and frequency.  They key is to start small until it takes root so that you burn out.

These easy steps can make you more mindful of your weight management habits and can help promote change. Being Mindful is a great way to make decisions automatic without deprivation.  So much so that we wrote a program called Mindful Living, check it out.

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Building Your Own Meal Plan: The Right Macro-nutrient Ratio For Fat-loss

ratio

If you haven’t heard of macro-nutrient ratios, or even macro-nutrients, this may sound like a super advanced principle, but you’ll quickly realize it’s not only simple, but understanding it can help you build your own meal plan more effectively.

Macro-nutrients, as most commonly used in nutrition-speak, refer to the components of our diets that we need in large quantities.  Specifically Carbohydrate, Protein, and fat. Macro-nutrient ratios, then, are the percentages of each that we consume in a given time frame, usually per day.

Just as it’s true that no person reacts the same to a predefined diet, I will caution that not every person will respond according to generally accepted macro-nutrient rules, but, as much as we can provide a ‘one-size-fits-all’ the following should work for most of us.

The most common goal for folks new to Meal Planning is fat-loss, which is why it landed in the title of this post.  And, you won’t be surprised to learn that of the 3 common ratios, this is the one with the lowest carbohydrate percentage, and the highest protein intake. The ratio is:

Carbohydrate: 10-30% (I’d be careful about going under 15-20% myself, but these are generally accepted amounts)

Protein: 40-50%

Fat: 30-40% (Please understand that the bulk of these fats should be of the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats and omega 3’s.  Saturated fat should be kept under 15 grams per day, and trans-fats should be avoided altogether)

So, what does this mean for your meal plan, how can you tell what the ratios are based on what you eat?

Well, it requires math, but it’s very simple.  You start by knowing how many grams of each macro nutrient you’ve eaten in a day. Then, multiple the grams of Protein and Carbohydrate by 4, and Fat by 9.  This will give you the total calories for the day.  Then simply divide the calories of each macro-nutrient by the total.

So, for example, if you had 1,800 total calories yesterday from 90 grams of Carbs, 225 grams of Protein,

and 60 grams of fat, your total calories per macro would be:

Carbs 90 x 4 = 360

Protein 225 X 4 = 900

Fat 60 x 9 = 540

And your ratios would be:

Carbs = 20% (360/1,800)

Protein = 50% (900/1,800)

Fat = 30% (540/1,800)

This would be a very typical ratio for Fat-loss.  If this is your goal, design your meals to mirror these same ratios, but start first with your total calorie target and work backwards.  And remember, you calorie target should be set 500 calories below your maintenance needs as to create a calorie deficit.

Creating these types of meal plans is something we can help you with, both with our online coaching and our 30 day reset, which focus on the fat-loss ratio.

To recap, here are the suggested ratios by the three primary goals (C/P/F):

Fat-loss: 10-30%/40-50%/30-40%

Maintenance: 30-50%/25-35%/25-35%

Bodybuilding/muscle gain: 40-60%/25-35%/15-25%

Want to make this super easy? Download an app like Lose it! and it will do the work for you. You can see your ratios at a glance each day and adjust as appropriate.

 
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