I don't care who you are and how much you train, forget it. And let me be clear just what a bad diet includes, if you're just eating all unprocessed, fresh foods, freshly brought from the supermarket, prepared and then eaten, you're diet is still bad (largely due to the horrible way with which our fresh food is harvested, grown etc)! Not too long ago the fat profiles of beef and eggs looked more like that of fish than they do now! The pens and cages, food fed to the beef, the stress with which animals are kept all increase the acidity in their blood changing their macronutrient (protein/carb/fat) profiles. Then you have the quality if the soil, reusing of the soil, decreased nutrient output, means decreased quality of food, add chemicals, pollutants etc, "healthy" food isn't so great for you anymore. So if you're going to dinners, eating processed foods, eating junk food (ANYthing, chips, fast food, chocolate, sweets etc) not having 4-6 servings of vegetables a day (not pieces of) and about 2 servings of fruit (not pieces) then you're eating crap, if you're not drinking a couple (2) litres of water today, you're dehydrated. And I'm not even talking fat loss goals now, I'm talking health, longevity of life. Diet is THAT important and that overlooked. Everyone knows how they should be eating. I say this as if they were absolutes, I don't necesarily subscribe to that mentality, I'm simply using hyperbole to make a point.
Ok, let's discuss what you can do to get you're diet looking a little cleaner and more conducive to fat loss goals.
Wikipedia states that macronutrients are:
"Nutrients the body uses in relatively large amounts- proteins, carbohydrates and fats. This is opposed to micronutrients, which the body requires in smaller amount's such as vitamins and minerals. Macronutrient provide calories to the body as well as performing other functions."Most people are working on the basic assumption that fat is bad and all else is just noise. Unfortunately it is much more complicated than this, with most answers being counter intuitive to what you might suspect. Firstly, without getting too technical there are different types of protein, carbohydrates and fat, all three have a "bad" type, a "moderately good" type and a "good" type. For example when talking about carbohydrates, simple sugars such as refined sugar are considered bad (as in never consume), and for the purpose of a fat loss diet, starchy carbs such as grains and cereals are best avoided and vegetables/fruit are where you'll be getting your carbs from. The same goes for fat, saturated fat, like that you would find in processed foods is considered generally bad (mainly because the body produces it already) whereas polyunsaturated fats, namely those found in foods such as avocado, flaxseed and fish are considered good.
When considering a fat loss program you need to consider what will make the strongest losses in bodyfat, while maintaining lean mass. A reduction in total calories was thought to be the preferred method, but nowadays sports professionals are leaning toward a manipulation of specific macronutrients to produced fat loss (still working from a caloric deficit). This is due to the understanding of macronutrients role in the body, previously it was essentially assumed calories in (energy) vs calories out (energy expenditure), but now we're releasing that protein has many fat loss benefits, whereas carbohydrates hinder, and fat actually facilitates fat loss too (only when carbs are low). The evidence suggests that a reduction in carb intake (only allowing fruit, vegetables, with the exception of oats for breakfast) and an increase in lean protein sources (with a moderate increase in healthy fats) leads to the best environment conducive to fat loss. How does this work? The body has 3 storage capacities for energy 1- Carbohydrate: Glycogen, 2-Protein: Lean muscle, 2- Fat. The reason for reducing carbs is to keep the bodies glycogen levels low, so it can't draw its energy from there, but we also want to create and maintain muscle mass, by keeping it anabolic (in a state of protein synthesis). So, a reduced carbohydrate and a solid weight training program under conditions of a caloric deficit will shift the body towards preferentially burning fat stores (it is possible to do this with higher carb intakes, but requires much more strict attention to detail, beyond which your average person will achieve). By increasing you r protein intake and by increasing your meal frequency (up to 5-6 times per day) you increase what's known as TEF (Thermic Effect of Food), what this simply means is the amount of energy your body uses to chew, digest and excrete food. Protein foods have a TEF of 25-30%, wheat and grain carbs about 5-9%, fruits around 15% and vegetables 30% and fats about 0-3%. If you exchanged 100grams of carbs for 100grams of protein you would burn an extra 20-25 calories without doing anything but switching bread for chicken (works about to be about 100 or so extra calories burnt without any extra work just by adding lean protein sources and removing grains, cereals and wheat's). You couple that with the metabolism raising exercise you're doing, with drinking ice water all day (about another 20 calories a day just there) and you're burning calories all day, with not a lot of work!
You want to save starchy carb foods for breakfast or for post workout, this is because your glycogen levels are low. Your body handles carbs well in the morning, and it creates a beneficial hormonal environment for the rest of the day. There are certain times of the day when your body utilises carbs for fuel and there are others when it is more likely to store them as fat. In the morning, as with during and after exercise are the best times for your body to use carbs efficiently. You don't need to become an expert at counting calories or even having extravagant food choices, just make sure you have access to the foods listed below and you can start to shred those kgs quickly. It is very important you consume 5-6 small high protein meals throughout the day, it's about stimulating your metabolism. If you don't eat, you need to get into the mindset that, that is the same as eating junk, in fact it is probably preferable to eat junk over nothing. When you don't eat your body doesn't know when it's going to get its next meal so it actually stores fat in attempt to save your life, great for your body, bad for you! When you eat small meals constantly your body has to up your metabolism to burn through it, thus reducing fat, if you couple this with high protein meals that raise your metabolism as well (think of your metabolism as a fire, you want to stoke the fire, to burn fat) you're well on you rway to burning that extra weight off.
List of appropriate protein sources
Chicken breasts, chicken sausage, protein powder/shakes, egg whites, fish/seafood, beef (lean cuts, and always removing excess fat), turkey breast, low fat cottage cheese
List of appropriate fruits/vegetables
Asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussel spouts, chick peas, cucumbers, capsicum, salsa, spinach, lettuce, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, orange, nectarine, peach, pear, plum, strawberries and watermelon.Oatmeal, sweet potato, bread (whole grain), couscous, rice (brown), whole wheat pasta and tortilla corn).
List of appropriate breakfast/post workout options:
List of appropriate breakfast/post workout options:
A word on water, you want to drink ice cold water and about up to 3L of it a day. Always have a bottle in the fridge, chilled and ready to go.
Wikipedia. Retrieved 21/04/2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macronutrient
Studies (on the effect of training on top of dieting)
Horton E.S., (1986). Metabolic aspects of exercise and weight reduction. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 18(1):10-8.
Poehlman E.T., Melby C.L., Goran M.I., (1991). The impact of exercise and diet restriction on daily energy expenditure.Sport Medicine. 11(2):78-101.
Stiegler P., Cunliffe A., (2006). The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sport Medicine. 36(3):239-62.
Tremblay A., Després J.P., Bouchard C., (1985). The effects of exercise-training on energy balance and adipose tissue morphology and metabolism. Sport Medicine. 2(3):223-33.