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Weight Loss Nutrition 101

By on July 1, 2016

By: Siphiwe Baleka, Founder, Fitness Trucking

Do you feel losing weight is a struggle, and it’s particularly difficult to achieve out on the road? If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone.

Often I hear drivers say, “I just can’t eat healthy at the truck stops. All they have is junk food and fried food.” While that may be true for some, it’s certainly not true at TA and Petro locations. You can lose weight while living on the road, and you can eat healthy at many truck stops. Every month at Fitness Trucking, I show drivers how, and I’d like to share the basics with you.

When it comes to nutrition and losing weight on the road, here’s what you need to know.

Building on the March-April RoadKing article about knowing your Body Mass Index, you need to understand food’s three basic components:

  1. Proteins
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Fats

Weight gain and weight loss are functions of your protein and carbohydrate intake. Proteins are your building blocks—the stuff that your body is made from. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are your fuel source. When you eat, your digestive system separates the food into these parts for use by every cell and enzymatic process in your body.

It requires more work—up to four times more work—for your body to break down the proteins than it does the carbohydrates. When you eat, your body doesn’t need the fuel (carbohydrates) right then and there, because you are just sitting in the driver’s seat. That causes your body to store the fuel as “fat.” Therefore, it is very important to monitor the amount of carbohydrates you eat, and when you eat them.

Avoiding a Common Mistake

A mistake many drivers make when they set out on the process of losing weight is that they start snacking on a lot of fruits and granola bars, both of which are almost all carbohydrates and have very little protein. I’ve seen drivers who all of a sudden start eating a bowl of oatmeal (all carbohydrates) with a banana (all carbohydrates) and a glass of orange juice (all carbohydrates) for breakfast, then eat an apple (all carbohydrates) or an orange (all carbohydrates) for a snack while they’re driving. Then later in the day, they eat a granola bar (more carbohydrates).

After two weeks of eating like this, the driver is perplexed that he or she has gained weight. It’s common for me to hear, “I just don’t get it! I’ve been eating healthy for the last two weeks, snacking on fruits and granola instead of chips and cookies.” Frustrated, drivers give up, and that’s the end of their efforts to lose weight.

Here’s the Solution

The solution is replacing your carbohydrate-loaded snacks with protein snacks such as nuts, low-fat cheese, tuna, eggs, Greek yogurt, beef jerky and even pork rinds! When you’re driving and eat these types of snacks, you give your metabolism work to do that requires the burning of fat, rather than the storing of fat. Moreover, when you snack this way, it leaves room for the consumption of carbohydrates at dinner.

In addition, stop drinking carbohydrate-loaded drinks such as sodas, juices and energy drinks. Replace them with any zero-calorie, zero-carbohydrate alternative. The fewer carbohydrates you eat and drink during the day, the more carbohydrates you can afford to eat later without doing a lot of damage. This means you don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods to lose weight. You can still eat your favorite dinners in moderation. You just have to learn when you can eat them and how much you can eat.

Apps Can Help You

I recommend the use of a smart phone app such as MyFitnessPal or, my favorite, Cronometer, to track your nutrition. Record everything you eat and drink for a minimum of seven days. Calculate your average daily meal frequency and your average daily carbohydrate consumption. You want to gradually increase your meal frequency until it reaches 5 meals a day—that’s breakfast, a.m. snack, lunch, p.m. snack, and dinner. Meanwhile, you want to gradually reduce your average daily carbohydrate consumption by 10g to 20g each week. For maximum weight loss, most of my clients achieve the best results by gradually reducing their carbohydrate consumption. Getting them under 140g per week is ideal.

By making small changes to reduce your carbohydrate consumption and regularly snacking on protein throughout your driving shift, you can significantly boost your metabolism to burn fat while driving. You don’t have to starve or deprive yourself. Instead, eat strategically.

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