The Fit Mom Diet – 3 Solutions to Overcome Bad Advice
If you look up “fit mom diet” on the Internet, chances are you’ll be bombarded the worst diet advice on the planet. For women, you’ll see calories slashed to basal metabolic levels (meaning the number of calories you burn at rest, before you even wake up and digest your first cup of coffee), or restrictive plans like green juice all day, veganism, raw, fruit-only, no carb, fast after 6PM.
In other words, just about everything to crash your metabolism and whittle you to a weak, hungry shell of your former self.
On the other hand, you may stumble across bodybuilding or CrossFit diets, peddling the dueling cults of “bro food” and “paleo.” Others, like cycling carbohydrates, insulin-spiking after workouts or giving your body a ketogenic overhaul may leave you frustrated at your computer wondering when and why food got so complicated.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way! You can eat food you enjoy and stay trim. There is no need to demonize any food groups or starve yourself – you’ll only end up in the snack cabinet sometime around 9PM, elbow-deep in a box of your kids’ frosted cereal.
Instead, we can balance our protein, carbohydrates and fat (yes, fat!) appropriately for our activity level and remain lean. The key is to meal prep satisfying foods and eat according to your activity level, when you need to.
Bad Advice & Solution #1 – Calorie Balance
The first garbage you see geared towards women is the ultra-low calorie diet. Tiny portions, skimpy salads with a spritz of dressing and all day juice cleanses are the go-to suggestions for a “skinny model” diet. Many of these plans are between 1100-1300 calories, which, unless you are 4 foot 2 and weigh about 91 pounds, is not a good idea.
Will you lose weight? Absolutely. But, those types of diets cause your metabolism to run as slow as possible and leave you with the one-two punch of slow metabolism and post diet binge-eating, which means major bloat and direct-to-fat storage. It’s not a pretty picture for your body or your mind.
The reality is you should set your caloric goal to match your age, stage and activity level, not some arbitrary number used by miserable women who think three strawberries, lemon water and a fat burner is a good breakfast.
To do that, you should track your consumption for a week, using an app like myfitnesspal. Be brutally honest with yourself and measure what you’re actually eating. Don’t lie – no one will know but you. See how many calories you are currently consuming and check your daily average. This is the number keeping you in your current state.
If you are happy with your weight, you want to remain in this ballpark. If you feel you are overweight, try removing approximately 250 calories from your total. If you feel you are underweight, or want to bulk up with some muscle, add 200 calories.
Some easy ways to cut 250 useless calories are: stop drinking pop, soda, juices and sugar-laden coffees, eat more vegetables, and ditch the ranch-based sauces. Oftentimes, simply “cleaning up” your diet is all you need. This means trying to eat mostly unprocessed or minimally processed foods like lean meats, vegetables, rice and potatoes instead of pastas, sausages, fast food and chips.
Bad Advice & Solution #2 – Macronutrient Balance
The next wrong-headed path is hard restrictions. Too many health gurus lie about food. They say certain foods are inherently bad, or times of day you eat are bad, or that your eye color, blood type or body shape determines what you should and shouldn’t eat. None of these claims are backed by science.
Chances are any extra weight you may be carrying is a result of stress-eating your kids leftover chicken nuggets, not from some demonized food component. Every macronutrient is important.
As you plan your meal prep, start with a protein. Having protein with each meal will help retain lean mass and keep you feeling satisfied because it takes longer to digest. Pick proteins from different sources: chicken for one meal, fish, eggs, beef, or whey, for another. Make sure you are prepared to measure your meat in ounces, so you know how much to dish out per serving. 3-4oz per meal is a good place to start for a female.
Vegetables and whole grains should be the next component of your meals. Veggies are great because they provide a lot of filling volume for a smaller number of calories. For instance, one cup of broccoli is approximately 25-30 calories. One cup of cooked brown rice is approximately 215 calories. So make about ¾ of your side dish vegetables and 1/4, grains like rice, quinoa, pasta or whole-grain bread.
Finally, don’t forget to factor in healthy fats like peanut butter, olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds. These should be used conservatively because they pack a lot of calories per ounce. Meaning, if you decide almonds will be your healthy fat for lunch, measure your serving in ounces or grams, not cups!
I see many women think something – coconut oil springs to mind – is healthy, so they eat it in copious amounts and end up sabotaging any health benefits by gaining weight. Don’t do that!
Bad Advice & Solution #3 – Life Balance
The third bit of bad advice that I see in this industry is the implied necessity for a mom to eat like a bikini competitor in prep mode. There are many self-proclaimed “diet counselors” out there, all too happy to charge you for a generic bikini prep diet or a confusing regimen of meticulous nutrient partitioning and supplementation only applicable to competitors.
You don’t need to eat like an athlete if you’re not, nor eat foods that disgust you or give you bad gas. You don’t need to eat every two hours and you certainly don’t need to stop eating at 6PM. You need to eat so you have energy throughout the day and at convenient times that fit your schedule. Think of the total input by the end of the day being more important than each individual meal.
- re you hungry at 9PM? Factor in a meal at 9PM.
- Do you find yourself raiding the cabinets at 3PM? Have a meal at 2:30, or eat a snack, like a protein bar, at 3PM.
- Are you picking food off of your kid’s plates because you haven’t eaten yet? Microwave your dinner before they eat, so you aren’t hungry while you clean up the table. Planning is key.
Good Advice – Meal Prep
Where exercise has kept me a fit mom, meal prep has kept me a lean mom. As much as I try to stay in control, life calls the shots, sometimes even before the morning alarm goes off.
If I am not on top of my food, I’m sunk. So, I spend a few hours on a Sunday packaging my lunches and dinners for the week and organizing my snacks, and in return I rarely get caught up in the danger zone of being hungry and without a plan.
Don’t feel that everyone has to eat the same food at the same times. This notion tangled me up for too long, trying to find meals that pleased everyone and eating when it was convenient for the kids or waiting until my husband got home from work. I eat on a slightly different schedule than my family, but it works for me – and for them.
I purchased meal prep containers in bulk and fill them with a lean protein, veggies and a bit of whole grains or starchy-carbohydrates. I eat the same thing every day, with a menu that changes weekly. It saves on time and cost.
I have meals ready to be warmed up when I need them, plus a cabinet full of protein powders and protein bars for snacks. I also keep apples, peanut butter, and Greek-style yogurt on hand. All during the week, I don’t worry about a thing, I just pull out a meal from the fridge and BAM.
A Fit Mom Diet is one that you can plan and sustain. It fuels you without bogging you down or depriving you. And, most importantly, it works with you and for YOU. You owe it to yourself to spend some time on the quality of your diet. It will make all the difference.