These are all simple hints or tips (hacks) which in themselves you may not find too tough, but you may find them useful in helping your goals. Try them and if they work for you use them if they don’t ditch them. It’s all about individualisation!
Fat loss isn’t just as simple as knowing what food works for your body. Yes, there is a physical element to weight loss – how much food, of what type does your body need and when. BUT, there is also a mental element, which includes staying motivated, navigating social occasions and dealing with tough times.
How you shop and eat
- Planning your food each day and week means you are more likely to be prepared. Research has shown that office workers that planned their lunch in the morning (rather than making the decision at lunch time) made healthier choices (the same theory applies with going food shopping and eating out in restaurants). You can plan your weekly menu using Your Food Planner.
- You Can Always Make the Best Choice sometimes when eating out people will say ‘there was nothing I could eat so I had the thing I wanted’. That is absolutely fine if it’s a conscious decision, but do be honest with yourself. Even in the toughest places you can make the best choice. For example in a burger chain you could buy a salad or buy a burger and ditch the bun. Remember you have Your Guide to Eating Out to help as well and restaurants will swap fries/bread etc for salad and veg.
- Walk Before Meals A recent study showed some benefit to walking before a meal. Admittedly it was a small study, but walking is always good so why not do it before a meal if you’re able to.
- Using Smaller Plates have been shown to help you to think more about the amount you are eating and allows you to think about whether you are truly hungry or simply eating as it is there.
- Eat Sufficient Protein we’ve talked before about eating sufficient protein for general health and energy, but it’s also important for fat loss as it helps to reduce the level of the hunger hormone GLP-1, which tells your brain you still require food. This isn’t about eating a high protein diet, but many of us eat very little in our normal day.
- Eating Soup Before a Meal has been shown to keep you fuller for longer. This works better than a glass of water as it stays in your stomach for longer. There is also some evidence around Glucomanan (a fibre supplement), however I tend to prefer real food to supplements where possible.
- Chew Your Food sorry to sound like your mum, but she was right. Properly chewing our food allows us to digest it better, savour our food and allows our brains time to know we have eaten enough
- Only Eat When You Are Sitting Down this helps in three ways. One it prevents mindless eating when you’re standing at the fridge door or on the go. Two it allows your brain to better register that you have been fed. Three it helps you to better digest your food.
- Eating Slower has been proven to actually increase the messages that you are full. To help with this you could try putting your cutlery down and taking a sip of water between mouthfuls or trying this app called Eat Slower.
- Eat to 80% full we tend to eat until we feel stuffed. If at every meal you aim to eat until you are no more than 80% full it helps to reduce overeating.
- If You’re Super Busy and know you can’t deal with preparing food worst case scenario three protein shakes and two protein bars a day can be something to fall back for a short while on if life is overwhelming you. Yes real food is best, but this will give you more nutrients than a lot of diets.
- You Can Leave Food I know it can feel wasteful, but it is ok to leave food. Even if it’s only a few bites. If you’re 80% full you don’t have to finish it. Try practicing deliberately leaving some food.
- What You Eat At One Meal Impacts the Rest of the Day It can be tempted to restrict food and ‘be good’ throughout the day. This causes havoc to our blood sugar and hormones and can have a big impact on what we eat later in the day.
- Digestive enzymes and probiotics some people find taking good quality digestive enzymes and probiotics can help reduce bloating and maybe even help with fat loss. More details on these can be found in the Supplements lesson.
- Intermittent Fasting or IF as it’s sometimes referred to is the idea that you spend some of the day/week in a fasted state. For some this can be beneficial for fat loss, but for many it can lead to over eating when the fast is over. Some research suggests it can be more beneficial for men. One way to get some of the benefits of IF without the downsides is to fast overnight. This would entail not eating for a minimum of 12 hours overnight e.g. if you have dinner at 7pm not eating breakfast until after 7am. Also, remember it is ok to leave time between meals without constantly grazing. We don’t have to constantly feel ‘fed’.
- Find Alternatives to Food to Reward Yourself. Your bodies reward centre is very strong, especially so in time of emotional distress. This is one reason for emotional eating as your brain give intense signals to reward yourself. This doesn’t have to be with food. Our brains are hard wired to make us feel good when we do things that help is survive eg when we eat dopamine/seratonin are released and make us feel good. Overtime our tolerance to these increases so it could be that we need more over time to feel as good. We can search food when we’re actually looking for something else to give us those feelings like being outside, exercising, connections with friends. These also have the bonus of giving us short term happiness without any long term problems such as weight gain/shame/guilt.
- Be Mindful when you eat and totally honest with yourself. Are you eating because you are hungry or because it’s ‘time’ or you’re bored or upset etc. Whilst eating smell and taste your food and savour it. There is a wonderful German word Kummerspeck which translates as ‘grief bacon’ and means the excess weight caused by emotional eating.
- You Don’t Have to Be Perfect. Sometimes people think in order to lose fat they have to be perfect in every area. This often isn’t true. If you focus on the big ticket items – sleep, relaxation, plenty of veg and water, sufficient protein etc you may find this is enough to start to gradually lose the fat you wish to. There may be no need to start worrying about the smaller items.
- If You’re a Competitive Person it can be helpful to think of food companies as in a competition with you. The food marketers are out to tempt you and you have to beat them.
- Don’t Be the Victim it can be tempting to think ‘It’s Not Fair’. Not fair that I have to eat this way. Not fair that my friend eats rubbish and looks great etc. Try to remember you don’t have to do anything. This is a choice. If you wish to live a lifestyle to make you feel stronger and healthier you can chose to live in a way that suits your body 90% of the time. It may sound a little trite, but try to reframe your thinking to be grateful for the opportunity to nourish your body. We wouldn’t expect a car to run efficiently on the wrong fuel so why would our bodies?
- Learn how to deal with small indulgences. If you eat more than planned or have a treat it can be tempting to think f*ck it. It’s ruined now. I may as well just continue eating and start again on Monday. Psychologists call this catastrophic thinking, however you don’t have to fall for it. If you had one flat tyre on your car you wouldn’t go around and puncture the other three. The same applies here. Just because you’ve had one snack/meal/day etc which isn’t in line with your goals doesn’t mean you have to continue. It is normal to occasionally do this. The simplest to do that is to accept it and move on. You don’t need to do anything different other than eat the next meal in line with your goals. You’re only ever one meal from fat loss and this is a lifestyle not a punishment.
- Don’t Despair after 6-8 weeks you may find your fat loss stalling or even increase a little as your head, body and metabolism fight back. It may be necessary to eat one big meal (such as a three course meal in a restaurant) in order to help reset your metabolism.
- Embrace The Light Feeling some people report a ‘light’ feeling when they start to eat in the way which suits their body. It can be easy to mistake this for hunger if we’re not used to it. Learning to embrace the feeling helps to overcome overeating. Don’t ignore true signs of hunger though. This is definitely not about starving yourself!