A dietary quality index was developed that simply reflects the percentage of calories people derive from nutrient-rich, unprocessed plant foods on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the score, the more body fat may be lost over time and the lower the risk may be of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. The standard American diet was found to rate 11 out of 100. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, 32 percent of our calories comes from animal foods, 57 percent from processed plant foods, and only 11 percent from whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. That means on a scale of one to ten, the American diet would rate about a one.
“This is a great way of eating that I highly recommend to many clients, and I even model in my own life,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego and is the co-author of Fertility Foods Cookbook. “Since the premise of the diet is designed to help people who have high blood pressure, low-sodium foods are recommended. But considering that most Americans exceed their daily sodium levels anyway, it’s not surprising that dietitians recommend this style of eating for treating many different conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.”

Don't blame your chocolate craving on a lack of willpower. Turns out, there's a physiological reason ice cream, french fries, and cupcakes are so hard to resist: Our bodies are wired to crave rich food. Studies have shown that the taste of fat can give us the munchies by triggering a release of chemicals similar to those experienced by drug addicts. "Some people are hypersensitive to food," says Eric Stice, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. "They find things like chocolate cake orgasmic, so they tend to overeat it."

Simply take a good hard look at your diet, make a few modifications you can stick with and get your body moving. Not sure where you stand on diet? Write down everything you eat this week, then compare it to the list above and see where you could have made better choices. Don’t beat yourself up though, learning how to lose stomach fat fast is a process. Simply find areas to improve and work on them next week.
Prepackaged foods are not for everyone and typically not something to use forever. They can be very limiting and create the sense of being "on a diet." They will also get in the way of social events in which food is involved. Most people find that they only want to use this type of a diet for the short-term or for one or two meals per day. The other negative aspect of this diet is that the prepackaged foods contain the artificial sweeteners Sucaralose and Acesulfame K.

So, my issue is understanding the calories I need for lifting. I know there are a lot of variables involved and things I’m probably overlooking.. is there a formula for a rough estimate for my question? And is there a method you trust for determining overall caloric intake? I try to use ones with multiple variables and average out the recommended amounts.

"Healthy fats are totally underutilized by individuals trying to shed body fat," says Matarazzo. "You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat, but you don't want to cut out healthy fats completely." Fats take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings. Include avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, flaxseed, and canola in your diet.
Created in 2003 by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, this low-carb diet features three phases. The first phase is the most restrictive, limiting carbs such as potatoes and rice. Each subsequent phase becomes more lenient, and the diet emphasizes lean protein, unsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbs such as nonstarchy vegetables. South Beach promotes lasting lifestyle changes, according to the Mayo Clinic. (21)
If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread, pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been a huge number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
I mean, people lose fat on low carb diets, low fat diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, raw food diets, diets that involve eating “clean” instead of “dirty” or not eating after a certain time at night, and countless other types of diets that involve every gimmick, fad and method you can think of except the specific task of creating a caloric deficit. But yet, they have all caused people to successfully lose fat.
While you may or may not wish to weigh yourself frequently while losing weight, regular monitoring of your weight will be essential to help you maintain your lower weight. When keeping a record of your weight, a graph may be more informative than a list of your weights. When weighing yourself and keeping a weight graph or table, however, remember that one day's diet and exercise patterns won't have a measurable effect on your weight the next day. Today's weight is not a true measure of how well you followed your program yesterday, because your body's water weight will change from day to day, and water changes are often the result of things that have nothing to do with your weight-management efforts.

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Thanks, that’s a good plan, I’ll just take diet breaks as needed. I am in a deload week right now, so I will eat maintenance this week and keep on shooting for the low teens before I bulk. If I deload every fourth week, maybe it would be best to just eat at maintenance every time I deload (in theory, I should be doing that anyway to preserve lean mass, right?).
The Atkins diet web site states the current plan "is about eating delicious and healthy foods, which makes it so much better than any of those fad diets out there. You eat a variety of your favorite foods -- lean protein, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, fruits, whole grains. Plus, you get delicious Atkins bars and shakes from day one and every step of the way." 

Lastly, as I indicated, all my lifts are going up, but my weight (and even LBM, assuming my scale is even remotely accurate) so is it fair to say that strength gains are not directly related to muscle gains? Is this the “beginner” phase that you speak of frequently? The scale would indicate that muscle is going down….. But my presses, squats, deadlifts are all up.
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