At the Nurses Only Club, we know weight loss isn't easy.
Your job, your life, everything - it all just gets in the way from having that perfect body you want.
We've all been down that road before, including the fittest of us.
So if you've had trouble losing weight before, there's nothing to be ashamed of.
But look at it this way...
Failure is an essential part of your journey to success.
Any past mistakes you've made, you've learned from, so you can be more successful today!
And whether you want to lose 40 pounds, 10 pounds, or just stay as fit as you are today...
We got you covered babe.
Now, we've spoken before about how to improve your energy levels at work.
We recommend you read that article along with this one, because it's loaded with useful information.
And stable energy levels are an important part of having a successful diet.
Now, in this article we'll be focusing on weight loss tips specific to nurses' needs.
While weight loss principles are pretty universal, nurses are unique in many ways because we have our own super busy schedules.
This article is meant to be really straight forward, and its tips are very effective if used RIGHT - so let's get started!
1. Eat More Protein
We simply cannot emphasize this enough!
Adequate protein intake is one of the most important changes you can make - PERIOD.
Many reasons, but for our purposes, there are three primary benefits of protein:
First - the obvious. We all know that protein builds more muscle.
However, it also helps you retain your muscle when you lose weight.
Even if you're not doing any kind of resistance training (you should!), it will help you retain the muscle on your body so a higher percentage of weight loss comes from fat!
Next, protein is the most satiating macro-nutrient by FAR. It's really not even close.
Carbs and fat (the other two macro-nutrients) simply don't fill you up the way protein does.
So eating enough protein helps you resist the urge to eat more unhealthy calories, and it reduces hunger period.
Third, Thermogenic effect of food (TEF) - Here's something you may not have heard of.
In short, studies across the board show that protein has the highest TEF. This means it burns far more calories to actually digest it than other macronutrients.
This might not be a massive benefit, but it does mean that there are at least some extra calories being burned each day because you replaced fat and carbs with protein.
And it does add up over time to added weight loss.
So, what do we recommend you do to get enough protein?
It may be a big increase compared to now, but we recommend you go with what most fitness professionals recommend - a minimum of 0.8g/lb of body weight in protein per day.
We simply don't think the government recommendation of 50g/day is nearly enough to get all the benefits of a lot of protein intake.
Now, it depends on what you eat, but let's say right now you get an average of 50g a day.
If you weigh 140lbs, you'd aim for at least 112g of protein a day.
To do this, you would cut out something that's very high in carbs (especially sugar)...
And you could include an extra few servings a day of:
- Lean Chicken (about 25g of protein per 4oz)
- An extra protein shake (about 25g per scoop)
- Lean Beef (about 25g per 4oz)
- Low fat cottage cheese (About 14g per 1/2 cup)
- Low Sugar Greek Yogurt (About 12g per cup)
These are just some examples and they're far from exhaustive.
Anyway pick at least one that works for you and add it into your diet.
Please note that while foods like cheese and nuts have protein, a much higher percentage of their calories are from fat.
Therefore we don't recommend that you rely on them for protein intake, although if eat in MODERATE amounts (meaning you're watching your calories), they can make reasonable on-the-go snacks.
2. After prioritizing your protein, eat fats and carbs
Since you know what your minimal protein intake should be (0.8g/lb of body weight minimum), the rest will be naturally be fats and/or carbs.
How much fat you eat vs carbs is up to you, and we believe you should just experiment to see what works for you!
A few things to note here:
Some people just seem to operate better on lower carb diets than others. That's fine.
That means if you're not used to eating low carbohydrates, you might find yourself less tolerant of it than others.
Low carbohydrates are not necessary for fat loss, but some prefer it for various reasons.
Some find that they get less hunger spikes hours later, and that their energy levels are more stable when they eat fewer carbs.
You may be tired and your muscles may not feel as "explosive" especially when you're in the gym.
Just know that totally restricting carbohydrates is not totally necessary.
What's most important is that you get enough protein and that you burned more calories than you ate.
Most people would benefit from going low to moderate fat, low to moderate carbs, and high protein.
3. Eat (and drink!) less sugar.
We know you've heard this before.
Maybe you consume a lot of sugar, maybe you don't.
Or maybe you only have it in moments of weakness.
Either way, you have to keep your sugar intake low.
We're not saying you have to cut it out entirely - if you like a little dark chocolate at the end of your day for instance, it's not a big deal - as long as you're doing everything else right!
But first, cut out sugary drinks - they're just empty calories and add to your waistline. Replace them with something else.
Then start by reducing sugary snacks and replacing them ideally with high protein foods.
Keep in mind that "hidden" sugar is added to a lot of foods that normally wouldn't have it. Especially in the United States.
Our population has become addicted to sugar, largely because our food companies have snuck added sugar into our foods.
(If you don't believe us, just check the nutrition facts of a lot of common foods. They even have added sugar in plain Cheerios!)
The best way to avoid processed sugar is to just eat whole foods. Meat, greens, vegetables, etc.
Overall, keep your sugar intake low. Again if you have something you feel like you can't go without, just be very reasonable with it and make sure you're doing everything else right.
4. Count your calories - especially early on
Look, we know it's not easy.
But at least at FIRST, when you start trying to lose weight, you're almost always better off counting calories.
The reason why is simple: what gets measured gets done, and you often have no idea how many calories you're eating until you count them all.
We like to use an app called MyFitnessPal (no affiliation) because you can select your foods and your common food choices will always be available.
So once you get used to it, this literally just takes a few minutes a day, and you can do it while eating.
There are many ways to calculate what you should eat in a day, we like to use a formula like this one or the one in the MyFitnessPal app.
What you want to do here is calculate approximately how many calories you have to eat in a day to burn body fat.
Remember that if you're a floor nurse, you probably burn a ton of calories at work.
In fact on a VERY active day, you might need to eat an additional 500 calories, maybe even up to 1000 on a super active day where you're running around taking care of patients for 12 hours!
However, that's a very rough rule - please don't just eat a ton of calories every day, only start to add calories if you have a very active day at work, especially if you feel hungry and lethargic.
Remember, you want to find what works for you.
If you consistently lose 1lb a week and you're eating about 2000 a day (just as an example) and you're comfortable with that - great! Just keep doing what you're doing!
If 2000 calories is too low for you (especially on a work day), then you may have to up your calories to 2200 on those days. Maybe 2400, maybe higher. It varies depending on your metabolism, body weight, and activity level.
You may have another preference for method of counting calories aside from MyFitnessPal. No problem - just make sure it's accurate.
One of the biggest problem people run into is counting serving sizes. You absolutely have to make sure it's accurate to the best of your ability.
Go by the serving sizes on the packaging.
But for things that are less obvious and are weight based, you can purchase a weight scale for $10-20 online and use that to measure weight.
Try to record your calories after every meal, or while you're eating, so you don't forget.
5. Record your progress numerically AND visually
As we said before, what gets measured gets done.
Weigh yourself several times a week at the same time every day.
Don't worry about daily fluctuations in weight - the most important thing is that the scale goes down over time.
Take photos in the mirror every week or so.
Again try not to worry about the day by day changes, because it can change based on how recently you worked out, how much food you ate, etc.
Keep these photos somewhere you can easily refer to them every week.
You want to be able to see the visual differences that are happening in your body, not just the weight on the scale!
6. Have HEALTHY Snacks available
Some say you should never snack if you're trying to lose weight.
But for many nurses, it's tough to avoid snacking at work.
We know. You don't always get to sit down and have a lunch break.
Therefore we just want you to be cautious here.
Avoid the processed foods that come in a bag or box and are high in carbs. Those are almost always loaded with high glycemic carbohydrates (carbs that spike your energy levels) and just make you hungrier later.
They are also horrible for fat loss - EVEN if you're burning a lot of calories.
What you do want is foods that are, again, high protein.
Foods like cheese and nuts are ok here if you watch your calories. You have to know how much you're eating - so measure very carefully.
Other ideas here include greek yogurt (low to no sugar), cottage cheese (with or without fruit), hard boiled eggs, peanut butter celery sticks, or many of the quick and easy recipes we have in our 40 Quick Healthy Recipes for Nurses eBook!
7. Prioritize Resistance Training
We highly recommend resistance training while you lose weight.
This will burn additional calories, even while you're resting, and ensure that you're losing minimal muscle while you lose weight.
Instead of looking flabby, you'll look fuller, more toned, and, well, sexier.
Think full body exercises. Work the lower body and upper body at least 2-3 days a week during your off days.
We're not going to cover exercise in depth in this article, but we have our Booty in 30 Days program specifically for a sexy lower body from the comfort of your home.
And we're working on some other programs for nurses' needs as well!
8. Don't torture yourself
Let us emphasize this!
Do. Not. Torture. Your. Self.
Look - we know that have plenty of other stressors already.
Weight loss should NOT be painful. It should not be stressful. It should feel natural.
It should not be a process where you can't wait to get it over with, even if it's effective.
You should feel good while you do it!
In fact, often times you'll feel BETTER because you cut out foods that caused you energy swings and other issues.
There may be a few moments where you're a little hungry despite eating your calories for the day.
If so, drink some water - often times the feeling goes away.
If the feeling is intense, and you worked that day, you may have to eat an extra small meal to compensate for all the calories you burned.
And remember, it's about what you do the majority of the time.
You can have a piece of chocolate here, or a glass of wine here - we promise it won't kill you, provided you're doing everything else right!
Overall, you should feel good while you're losing weight.
If you feel crappy while you're losing weight, you're probably doing one of two things wrong:
- You're not eating enough calories
- You're eating too much crappy food
Eventually you'll make it work - just watch the scale!
9. Make healthy eating a lifestyle
That's right - healthy eating is a lifestyle.
You can't technically "come off' this diet or else you WILL rebound and gain that weight back very quickly.
However, you can increase calories slightly over time so you're no longer in a calorie deficit - but you have to continue to eat the same types of foods you ate to lose weight!
This means that you have to enjoy the foods that you eat!
The key here is to find foods that fit the criteria of healthy AND tasty.
We have an eBook full of these awesome healthy foods, and they come as part of the following deal below...
SO WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO STORE YOUR HEALTHY MEALS AT WORK?
Lastly, the easiest way to store your healthy meals and keep them warm at work is our unique Babe Box (pictured above)!
The Babe Box has been called "a true game changer for nurses trying to eat healthier!"
It's broken into multiple compartments and lets you eat a nice, warm, healthy meal at any time of the day, and is especially good for so many of the foods we listed above, like salads, rice, fruit, chicken, and a lot more!
Plus, included comes a FREE copy of our eBook, 40 Quick Healthy Recipes for nurses - so you can learn delicious healthy foods to cook as well!
If you follow the above tips you WILL lose weight, leading to a greater feeling of confidence and well being!
Remember to consult a doctor or dietitian if you have any specific health concerns.
And please share this article with anyone who might need it.
And remember, the Nurses Only Club is the brand that looks out for nurses first, because nobody else does!