How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind

Getting enough calories in a plant-based diet.

The hardest part of a new diet is getting the right amount of calories to reach your goals. This is especially true when the diet switch is bigger, like moving to a vegan diet or even a more strict vegetarian one.

While yes, one of the major reasons for moving to a diet can be to lose weight, we still have to pay attention to how many calories we’re taking in, how many are being burned, where they’re coming from, and what nutrients we might be missing as we move towards our goal.

Based on my training and experience, there are a couple of issues with a major calorie deficit. Some manageable, some downright dangerous.

So I wanted to take some time this week to share what I know and what I have experienced myself after several weeks on a plant-based diet. Hence the catchy title!

What Happens When My Calorie Intake Is Too Low?

There are a number of reasons people tend to fall off the plant-based wagon and not get back on, but one of the most common might feel a little counter-intuitive.

They aren’t eating enough.

Hold up, Dave. What? Yeah. Fewer calories is great, but too few calories is a surefire way to abandon the idea of weight loss altogether.

I am not in the business of giving up, and if you’re reading this, my guess is you aren’t either. So let’s dig into some things that can happen when our “caloric deficit” is too great.

You Lose Out On Essential Nutrients And Amino Acids

Remember my previous post about getting enough protein? That can get pretty hard when you’re limiting total calories to an extreme.

Amino acids are—literally—one of the critical building blocks of a human body. They are the bricks we use to build hormones, neurons, neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, and a lot more.

It is an indirect and subtle effect of too few calories, but the issue compounds over time.

Your Craving For Sugar Goes Up

Satiety! The silver bullet. A lower caloric intake means an increased likelihood of wanting more to eat, particularly fast-acting or “empty” calories (e.g. sugar).

I am sure you’re thinking, “Well, DUH,” but you would be surprised at how many clients have been caught off guard by this. For whatever reason, this fact gets lost in the shuffle.

You Increase The Risk Of “Yo-Yo” Dieting

I probably don’t have to tell you this is not the most healthy option. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is largely built on filling you to the brim with highly processed food and a lot of sugar.

This causes your insulin levels to spike like an Olympic-level volleyball player.  Hence the “sugar crash” that tricks your body into thinking it is hungrier than it actually is.

You can guess what happens next.

We are taught—day in, day out—that more of something is always better. So if we want to lose more weight, we should be eating as few calories as possible.

Categorically untrue, at least in my experience.

How To Tell You’re Not Getting Enough Calories

You body’s got your back. Seriously. If it is not getting what it needs, it will tell you. When it comes to calories, there are a number of telltale signs.

In my experience, a lack of calories leads to headaches, mild confusion, even light-headedness. This is my body telling me to find more calories in my nutrition program. Let’s look a little deeper.

You’re Getting Hangry More Often

Turns out those Snickers commercials were right on the money.

See, your body is constantly working through its energy supply. The brain alone burns off about 20% of any available glucose-based energy!

So if you’re too short on calories, you can be sure your brain is going to find a way to “tell you”, and it often does that by being irritable.

All you need to remember is to follow this cue in a healthy way, and while that is easier in plant-based diets, you do still need to be mindful (vegetarian and vegan junk foods are definitely a thing).

You’ve Got Food On The Brain

I feel this one! If my overall level of calories is consistently too low, I will eventually find myself daydreaming about future meals more and more until it is all I can think about!

Your Energy Levels Have Plummeted

Losing weight is not something our body “prefers” to do. It’s engineered to adapt and survive, and that means there are tons of mechanisms hard-coded to help with that.

So if your calories have dropped too far, your body says, “Oh ok, there is not enough food around here. I’ll burn a little body fat and slow things down just in case.”

You’ll feel sluggish (often alongside being hangry). If your blood sugar is too low, you may also feel confused or light-headed.

Again, the solution is to replenish with calorie-dense foods that also prevent your insulin from spiking—because the spikes will ultimately make the feeling worse.

Plant Foods Need To Be Planned Foods

It is a pretty straightforward idea, right? Whatever you eat, you will benefit from having a meal plan. Plant-based eating is no exception, and in fact, benefits from a good plan even more.

Here are a couple things I have learned when it comes to planning (and optimizing) a plant-based diet.

Snacks!

One of the most well-rounded solutions to low calories in a plant-based diet is snacks. But in the pursuit of healthy eating, a lot of people will go for foods that are marketed as healthy, but are also lacking in certain essential nutrients.

For example, there are quite a few vegan desserts out there that have replaced healthy fats with starches, pectins, and other ingredients for texture. Several frozen fake meats also are pretty lacking in things like vitamin B12 and iron.

Your best bet is nuts, seeds, and (if necessary) keto-based snacks. These are good options to have on hand because they’ll give you the calories you need, keep you satisfied, and all without heavily affecting insulin levels.

Another helpful method of keeping calories up is to switch out a snack with a protein shake or smoothie. The protein will keep you satisfied even longer, and if you add fruit, bonus calories and vitamins!

Carbs Are Not Your Enemy

I like to think of carbohydrates as kind of exercise equipment. You can use them properly and benefit…

Or not.

Carbs are a fast resource for the body. They are absorbed quickly, and they are necessary for overall health, so I am not as “against” them as the mainstream trends are.

Plus, in most plant-based diets, carbs are going to be pretty common. So you might as well plan around the healthiest carbs you can—while of course leaving room for the occasional batch of french fries!

For example, eat whole grains instead of refined grains. Brown rice is also a great option. Legumes will amp up your protein intake, which is obviously great for fueling your exercise routines.

The challenge is when eating nutrient-dense foods, we feel fuller faster (meaning the body signals time to cut off eating while not getting enough calories), carbs are a substrate that is a  fast resource for the body, via absorption and availability.

Calories Versus Calories Versus Calories

You have probably heard the old adage “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie”. This is a topic that still surprises me how controversial it is, so I wanted to mention it.

It is true that a calorie is the same wherever it comes from. But that is not because all foods are the same, it is because a calorie is a measurement.

Depending on where the calories are coming from, our body will use a percentage of those calories to metabolize or store what we eat. This has a few different names, but it is mostly known as the Thermic Effect of Food.

Protein typically has the highest thermic effect. It is about 4 calories per gram, but 20-30% of that is burned off as the body breaks it down into amino acids and stores it to use later. Only 5-10% of the same amount of carbohydrate is burned off.

All this being said, the Thermic Effect of Food does not have a huge impact on things; maybe 10% of a healthy diet’s calories are burned off this way. Still, it is a good thing to consider.

Final Thoughts

I started this plant-based journey to see how it would affect my energy levels, especially after intense exercise.

The nutrition program I’ve mapped out for myself has been working wonderfully so far, but it is just as important on a plant-based diet to make sure my calorie intake is high enough. Otherwise, I become one hangry Dave.

So take inventory this week. How many calories are you taking in, and where are they coming from? Because while counting calories is useful, it is not the whole story.

And as always, I am more than happy to answer any questions or set you up with a plan that will work for you!

Two Awesome Plant-Powered Meals

Did you think I was going to finish this post without leaving you a couple of fantastic meals to try?

These two recipes are heavy on the vegetables, calorie dense, and pack a powerful flavor punch.

First, lentil soup with butternut squash and kale. Whole plant foods, check. Loads of nutrients, check. 8 different vegetables, check. Plant-based protein, check. This was awesome.

Second, a roasted vegetable salad with curry. This is so easy to make, and you only need a single pan. The salad dressing has a great balance of brightness from the apple cider vinegar and sweetness from the honey. Be careful not to eat the whole thing at once!

Schedule a call with your coach today! Click here to apply for coaching and schedule a complimentary consultation.

Will a Plant Based Diet work for an Athlete?

I’ve been an athlete all my life; from baseball as a youngster, to track and cross country in high school, weight lifting through college, and eventually falling in love with Jiu-Jitsu. The one thing I have always struggled with was energy.

I never felt as if I had enough energy to accomplish all that I wish to be successful in my life. Sure, I had enough energy for a workout, or completing a project at work, or playing with my daughter. But all three in the same day?

I was not cut out to be pushed to my max effort every single day as a single father, working two jobs, and trying to stay in shape. I was dependent on caffeine, supplements, and having a “balanced” diet to look and feel my best while grinding through my busy work weeks.

In early 2021, my partner and I were watching the Game Changer documentary on Netflix. I could completely relate to the narrator, pro MMA fighter, James Wilks, because I have also suffered from many injuries over the years and have always felt like it was a long road back to recovery.

Halfway through the show, my partner turns to me and asks if I’d like to try a plant based diet. Up until watching that documentary, I was convinced that I needed to have chicken, eggs, fish, and other proteins in my diet to refuel, recover, and rebuild muscles as an athlete. Wilks had given me a new perspective and I accepted the challenge from my partner to change our lifestyle.

We were already health conscious when cooking together two nights per week by mostly searching healthy recipes online. Yet, I was still overly sluggish in the energy department and relying on caffeine and sheer willpower to make it through busy work days and try to have enough energy to spend quality time with family and friends.

I felt as if I needed a change for my business to evolve and for my own personal benefit.

Some changes I’ve already made that have made a huge difference are…

  1. Considering meat a treat! Decreasing the number of times I eat red meat over the past two years has improved my digestion, mood, and energy!
  2. Switching from dairy to a plant based alternative! When I switched to oat or almond milk products, I noticed an immediate improvement in digestion and body composition!
  3. Adding in colorful vegetables! Thinking of variety as the spice in life, I found that adding in red, green, yellow, purple, and gold veggies kept my meals interesting and flavorful!

Starting in April 2021, I commit to documenting my own transition from a meat based diet to an entirely plant based diet. It won’t be easy and if you’d like to join me and follow along on my journey with me, sign up for updates absolutely free below!

I’ll share my recipes, progress pictures, and my discoveries along the way. If you’re looking for support in your own journey toward a plant based diet, reply back to any of the emails you receive and I’ll be happy to share what I find with you!

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What is the 21 Day Challenge!

First off, we need to know what your goals are before we can start any program to make sure it’s the right fit for you!

What are your top three goals you would like to achieve in the next three week? Is it to lose body fat, build lean muscle, tone up, or boost energy and confidence?

Many of our clients feel as if all of the above are at the top of their list. The good news is that when you build lean muscle, you burn more body fat AND you boost energy naturally while feeling confident in your accomplishments and results.

It’s a win/win right?!

Second, we need to understand why workout programs in the past haven’t worked for you. What are the reasons that you didn’t see results from past programs?

Is it because they were lacking accountability, ways to motivate you, and keep you consistent?

We’ve been there too. Trust me when I say that no one WANTS to workout! But we do want the results and benefits, right?

So how do you get results without having to go to the gym five or six days a week around your busy schedule, your family, friends, and other priorities?

During the 21-Day Challenge that begins next week, you will see how in just 30 to 45 minutes, four times per week, will get you to see a major change in your body, energy, and confidence!

Are you all in?

Not yet? What’s holding you back?

Is it because we don’t know each other? That’s one of the reasons busy people like you talk themselves out of making a commitment. I totally get it. You don’t know me from the other hundreds of skilled trainers in Denver doing remote, online, and in-home coaching right now.

What you can do is conduct time consuming research that may take you a couple days or even a week. Or… you can take a look at some of the transformations we have been a part of while working with clients over the past ten years. They all saw results fast!

DianeWe love Diane’s story because when she reached out for help, she was already consistently going to the gym on her own. That wasn’t the challenge for her. What she felt she needed was a weight training program that was safe and effective that could be done in under an hour.Between juggling her nursing job at night and creating a life she knew she wanted, Diane’s cortisol levels were keeping her stuck at a plateau. And when she began a new program with us, she jump started her transformation and these results came in just eight months of weight training and moderate cardiovascular exercise; all on her schedule! So proud of what Diane was able to do with determination, consistency, and a coachable attitude!

Diane’s transformation from remote coaching, training, and meal prep.

Alanna came to us before her wedding with a big goal of fitting into her dress! She far exceeding her goals of looking and feeling her best on her wedding day that her dress needed to be TAKEN IN by the seamstress! Way to go Alanna on all of your achievements while balancing out your hypoglycemia along the way with the help of your nutritionist!

Alanna’s transformation from online personal training and accountability.

Boyce was a lot like Diane! He wasn’t struggling to get to the gym consistently and yet, he wasn’t seeing his desired results! We gave him a workout program that was 100% remote AND a nutrition program that we knew would be the right fit for his weight loss goal! Not only did he shed over 20% body fat, he felt more energized and motivate to go after what he wanted! He completed a degree program with all that new energy and has a career that he loves working in Boulder, Co!

Boyce’s transformation from nutrition coaching and meal prep.

Kyle‘s goal was to tryout for America Ninja Warrior and he did it! His main goal was to take all of the pressure off himself to research a quality workout program so he came to us. We created a hybrid program where he joined us for small group training once each week and did his homework at home in between! Here he is after the first ten days of his workout program!

Kyle’s transformation from remote coaching, nutrition, and accountability.

Still not convinced? I completely understand because many of our members thought the same thing about the Challenge before they started. They thought, “Does this program actually work?”

The answer is a resounding YES! Through daily interaction with you coach for accountability, personalized workout programs you can do right at home with little to no equipment, AND a fun nutrition program with recipes you and your family will actually love!

Take a look at a few reviews and testimonials we’ve gotten from actual clients over the years on Facebook and Google.

The last thing you’re thinking to convince yourself that you aren’t ready for a real transformation that will change your life is price.

What does the program cost?

The ANSWER to that question is up to you! Committing to making this change in your life will cost your old life.

This program will cost you your old life that you’re holding onto that keeps you safe and protected.

This program will cost you your old life that keeps you living unsatisfied, tired, and frustrated with not seeing changes.

This program will cost you the investment in yourself that will be necessary to bust through limiting beliefs like “I can’t” or “I’ll never” that you’ve been telling to yourself for years.

Is there a financial cost? Yes.

If this program were to cost $997, would it be worth the personal investment?! Our current clients would say yes because that’s what they paid.

If this program were to cost you the investment of $297, would it be worth it? Yes!

Because of the overwhelming interest in the program, we are able to seriously discount it by 66%! Never before have we included so much in a remote coaching program built specifically for busy adults that want to change their lives forever!

For just three weekly payments of $99, you will get everything listed below and more!

  • Daily group coaching to hold you accountable!
  • Workouts that can be done in under 45 minutes!
  • Recipes you and your family will love!
  • Meal prep tips to save you five to ten hours every week!
  • Healthy habits you can implement immediately to boost energy and decrease stress!

What does it take to sign up?

Just a quick consultation with your coach to make sure you’re the right fit for the program!

Sign up through this quick form now!

Not All Calories are Created Equal

Have you heard this before? Weight loss is simple. It’s all about calories in versus calories out.

While it is true that a caloric deficit will help you lose body fat and build lean muscle. You must remember that not all calories are created equal.

For example, if I eat one meal today that consists of an entire pizza which equals around 2,000 calories. Those calories are not going to help me lose body fat and build lean muscle even if I were to exercise for one hour to burn about 350-400 calories.

Using the example above, your caloric deficit occurs if your basal metabolic rate (BMR: the minimum calories you need to take in per day to run your body’s systems) is 2,000 kcal and you exercised for one hour making your deficit 350-400 kcal. That leaves you with 1600-1650 net calories ingested that day.

On the flip side, if your intake of 2,000 calories were made up of lean proteins, fresh veggies that are nutrient dense, and healthy fats, then you would be able to reach your weight loss goals with the same amount of exercise while improving your recovery time, your energy levels, and your performance at work, play, or rest!

Check out the full video below for all the details!

Grab your free 5 step guide to master meal prep now by clicking here for more helpful and healthy tips to lose weight and keep it off!

3 Simple and Easy Ways to Cut Calories

3 Ways to Cut Calories without counting or weighing your portions!

I wanted to share with you the top three ways I manage my calories each week without breaking out the scale and weighing my food!

These are really simple ways you can implement today to reach your goals quickly!

1. Mindful eating- mindful eating can be added into every recipe you enjoy to cook each week! It begins with eating slowly and enjoying about 15 chews per bite of food. It takes about 20 minutes for your nerves in your stomach to recognize that it is full and signal your brain to stop eating! We always coach our PrepWars clients to eat to 80% full which means recognizing you have been satiated BEFORE you normally notice it!

2. Smaller portions- taking smaller serving sizes is a step in the right direction! American plates are larger than they ever have been in history and naturally, we tend to fill our plates full to the edges. Protein portions will be about the size of your palm. Carbohydrates will equal one cupped handful on your plate. And fats, yes they are necessary too, will be about 1-2 thumbs in size so about 5-8 nuts.

Spinach salads are ideal for meal prep to fuel your body and help your routine reach your goals.

3. Find more fiber- fibrous foods make us feel fuller faster and longer than simple sugars or protein. Fiber is classified in two ways: soluble and insoluble. Meaning absorbable or not. Fiber is also considered a carbohydrate so if you are choosing insoluble fiber, those carbs will not get absorbed! An example is celery. Celery has both soluble and insoluble fiber. Have you juiced celery? The insoluble fiber is what is left behind in the juicer.

Meal Prep is easier when you have a plan! Check it out at learntomealprep.com


These little know facts are why calories get such a bad reputation… Americans just don’t know the difference between simple and complex carbs or even why they are so important!

The next time you’re fixing up your plate for dinner, be mindful of your portion sizes and choose more fibrous foods to eat fewer calories without counting them down to the gram!

What Fitness Equipment Do I Need to Workout at Home?

We are excited to welcome you to the only online personal training program for busy adults that want to boost confidence, decrease stress, and gain energy while reaching their goals quickly and safely!

Before you get started, it is important to make sure that you have the equipment needed to perform all of the exercises. So here is your shopping list with fitness equipment that will allow you to exercise in the comfort of your home safely and efficiently.

Must haves in order to get started right away:

– Dumbbells (two pairs ranging from 15 to 50 lbs.) – besides the 25# you have, look for 15s, 20s, and 30s to get started or select the power block feature below!
– Swiss Ball
– Bands with Handles
– Pull Up Bar

Recommended equipment to get more out of your workout experience.

– TRX System
– Flat Bands for ankles or knees
– Power Block (Power Blocks are dumbbells with adjustable resistance)- as a better investment and substitute to dumbbells

Here’s what is included in the program for our members!

  • 3 Workouts each week for in home gym or neighborhood gym location!
  • Meal Prep Workshop to fit any nutrition program!
  • Text access with your coach!
  • Weekly group calls for support and accountability!

Book a call with your coach today!

Healthy Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

Ingredients for at least 5 servings:

2 lb chicken breast (measured raw)

1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or coconut aminos, or low sodium soy sauce)

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp red pepper garlic sauce

1/4 cup organic, raw honey or agave

1 tbsp orange zest or shaved fresh orange peel juice from 3 clementines

1 tbsp tapioca starch (or arrowroot starch) sesame seeds, green onions spray coconut oil

Steps:

In a bowl, mix Bragg’s, rice vinegar, orange juice, orange zest, honey, red pepper sauce and tapioca starch. Set aside.

Chop chicken into small pieces. Set a nonstick skillet on medium high heat and spray with coconut oil. Add the chicken and cook until it is about 90% finished.

Pour in the orange sauce and stir quickly. Reduce the heat, allow the sauce to thicken and continue stirring. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve with brown rice or quinoa.

Recipe modified from the original to cut down on sugar and fit into your macronutrient guide.

Orange Chicken

http://fitmencook.com/healthy-orange-sesame-chicken/

Overnight Oats

I’m a simple guy.  Really simple.

I generally pick a few ingredients and make it into a meal, breakfast, lunch, and snacks.  That particular strategy is beneficial to weight management and fueling the body for performance…  Most of the time.

Until I get tired of eating same things, all the time!

Because of PrepWars, I’ve learned how to have some fun with meal prep, and the following recipes are just the trick to change up my routine.  Follow @fitlifechampions on Facebook and Learn to Meal Prep on Instagram to learn how to make overnight oatmeal work for you and your busy week ahead!

Please check out these recipes for some fun variations on overnight oatmeal!  Remember to use almond or coconut milk instead of dairy for optimal health and performance through your busy week!

Overnight oatmeal recipes to save you time!

 

Fast and Easy Egg Cups

The purpose of meal prep ahead of your busy week is to save you time AND money.  Adding this fast meal prep recipe will save you boatloads of each!  Once your ingredients are prepped, diced, sliced, mixed and placed in the oven, you are free to grill or saute your other meals for the upcoming week.

Egg Cups

To save time and money, prepare your breakfasts ahead of your busy week!

This simple to make meal-prep breakfast is a great way to make your morning routine quick and healthy!

Items needed:

  • 6 section (minimum) muffin tin, non-stick
  • 1 quart egg whites
  • 6 pack of eggs
  • Diced vegetables of your choice (peppers, onions, brussel sprouts, zucchini, etc.)
  • Spinach sliced
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper

 

Instructions:

  • If not a non-stick pan, lightly grease tin with coconut oil.
  • Dice your choice of vegetables to smaller than bite-size portions
  • Divide veggies equally between each section of the muffin tin.
  • Crack one egg into each section of the muffin tin.
  • Pour the equivalent of two egg whites into each section of the muffin tin.
  • Sprinkle spinach over top of each section, crack black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or to desired consistency.  Eggs should be firm once fully cooked.
  • Remove from oven and quickly remove eggs, add your choice of protein (1/8 c.) and portion into containers for grab n go meals in the morning!

Egg Cups Finished

Brand Ambassador Program

Do you want to make a quick $50?!

Are you looking to make extra income in the fitness and nutrition industry?

Fit Life Champions has a brand ambassador program that’s the right fit for you!  In order for you to know exactly how to share the program with others, we will give you access to a FREE weeklong program to try out immediately!

Simply share your unique code with friends and family and earn $50 per referral!

Click HERE NOW now to apply!  And watch the video below to learn more details!