Control hunger and increase satiation without blowing your diet, especially on the weekends.
This is the key to sustaining a diet and losing fat. Some people can power through the cravings without caving to them, and some people don’t have that kind of willpower. But this is what separates the people who make progress consistently and those who don’t.
The weekends are when people struggle the most. Weekdays give us structure, but the weekend often means going out with friends or family functions. This is when you become a dieting casualty. A Saturday and Sunday of overeating can undo the previous five days of being strict on a hypocaloric diet.
Stop the self-sabotage. These tips can help:
Drink diet drinks.
They’re great at temporarily controlling your appetite. I’m sure someone will pipe up referencing some study about artificial sweeteners and insulin, but there was a year-long study that showed those who used diet drinks in conjunction with their diet lost more weight than those who just drank water. I had Diet Sunkist all the way up to my bodybuilding show and was in the low single-digit body fat range. Somehow it didn’t impede my fat loss. Shocker. Zero calories didn’t hurt the fat loss. Go figure.
Load up on veggies.
Veggies fill you up, and you can eat a ton without blowing your diet. You’ll never need to check into a fat loss clinic because of your broccoli habit. If you’re attending a get-together, bring a vegetable tray that everyone hates and eat it all by yourself. After that, go to the protein sources. This at least gives you a fighting chance at not ingesting 10,000 calories at the neighbor’s barbeque.
Have a protein shake before leaving the house.
This curbs your appetite before you hit a function or eat out, and it’ll minimize overeating.
Track your food intake.
Track your calories and macronutrients the first few weeks of your fat loss phase. Here’s why:
- Education From a qualitative perspective, you’ll identify the highest-level habits you can improve to get the ball of fat rolling in the right direction (of your body). It’ll show you how the typical foods and meals you eat impact your average nutrition numbers from a quantitative perspective. You can then adjust portion sizes to hit your target fat loss numbers.
- Awareness It can show you the difference between “health” foods and “fat loss friendly” foods. Yeah, nuts are healthy, but if you’re taking in 1000 extra calories a day by nibbling on them, it’ll be difficult to get into that calorie deficit necessary for fat loss consistently.
- Objectivity and accountability If you aren’t losing fat and are only hitting your target numbers 80% of the time, you need to bump that average up. Fat loss requires discipline and consistency.
- Fine-tuning Sometimes subtle shifts are all that’s necessary to start the fat loss process or to keep it progressing. Some people will jump to extremes when it’s not necessary. Maybe all you need is to cut your carbs down by 10% to spark some fat loss. By tracking, testing, and assessing, you can do that instead of cutting your calories in half and carbs to zero, then suffering all of the negative metabolic and hormonal consequences of those extremes.
Food tracking isn’t something you need to do indefinitely. The whole point is to teach you enough about nutrition so that you can eat more intuitively while still reaching your physique goals. You’ll soon know the numbers of your typical meals and will be able to eyeball portion sizes.
Okay, improving insulin sensitivity might not sound like a tip you can use right away. It sounds like some painstaking process that happens over a long period of time, like getting better at playing a violin or hacky sack.
But you really can improve your insulin sensitivity right away, and at the same time, coax your body into losing fat. Plus, when you do improve your insulin sensitivity over the long run, it’s possible you may not have ever to pay attention to fat loss tips again because you’ll have set your body up to stay continually lean, even in the face of future increased calorie intake.
Quite simply, insulin sensitivity largely determines how lean you are and how muscular you are. It improves the way your body partitions energy, so that food calories are preferentially shuttled to muscle instead of fat. If insulin sensitivity is poor, you might look and feel squishy, or you might be reasonably lean everywhere except for a layer of overflowing fat around your waist that reminds everyone of the miniature volcano you once made for a school science project.
So do as many of these insulin-sensitizing things as you can:
- Take 2 tablespoons of vinegar before bed and/or use it as a salad dressing. Taking it before a meal can raise post-meal insulin sensitivity by 30 to 40%.
- Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon into your breakfast oatmeal. It slows down how fast your food digests and reduces fasting insulin levels.
- Take 1 teaspoon of psyllium (found in Metamucil) twice a day. Researchers found that using it for 8 weeks reduced all-day blood sugar levels by 11%.
- Take 4 to 6 capsules of cyanidin 3-glucoside before dinner. The insulin-sensitizing effects of this naturally occurring substance compare favorably with some insulin-sensitizing prescription drugs.
- Take a combined 3 grams of DHA and EPA a day. Fish oil makes cells more sensitive to insulin and reduces the secretion of insulin by the pancreas.
There’s one more thing you can do, too, but it has to do with how you eat, rather than what you take with your food. When sitting down to a meal, make sure you eat some protein, fat, or vegetables before taking even a bit of “starchy” carbohydrate. Studies have shown this practice leads to significant reductions in post-meal blood sugar levels simply by slowing down those carbs’ digestion.