Question:

I have spent the past year working out five days a week doing both HIIT (2-3 days of the week) and strength training. I have had a lot of success with changing my shape, dropping 1.5 pant sizes and building muscle, but the process is slow. I still have body fat that I want gone. I have been reading some about the Keto diet, but don’t want to lose anything from my ability to perform and have heard mixed things about that diet. I eat pretty clean already and always have. Are there dietary changes that are key to increasing fat loss but don’t impact performance? Or should I just be patient with the process?

– Laura E.

Answer:

When you mention performance, what comes to mind is athletic competition or workout effectiveness. In either case, weight loss should ideally be tackled off-season or before the critical performance time. As it sounds like that is not your intended situation, there is no guarantee that while you are creating a caloric deficit your workouts won’t suffer.

Since you state that you eat clean already, I’d look to volume and timing of your meals and snacks for the greatest effect. Supporting your workouts with proper hydration, pre-workout snacks, and recovery nutrition is paramount. Don’t skimp in the few hours preceding and after exercise. Curbing intake at other times, particularly before bedtime and on rest days, would be the approach I’d recommend. Portions may be deceiving and appetite tends to increase with exercise, so watch not only the volume on your plate but how much goes in your mouth. An additional 100 calorie reduction equates to another lost pound per month.

Of course, if there are ‘extras’ in your diet like alcoholic beverages or sweets (even if organic), giving up on those will only benefit your performance and fat loss goals.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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