When you take people who have seen success in their dieting and fat loss journey, you will realise that they all have something in common: A strong foundation of habits/tricks that they use to keep making progress. If you seem to find yourself struggling to sustain your diet, or just can’t seem to hold off the food zombie inside of you, here are three of my favourite strategies that could help you maintain your progress!
1. Drink More Water
Oftentimes we get hungry and end up overeating. The common recommendation to tackle this issue is to eat more nutrient-dense foods ie. instead of a burger and fries, go for something like chicken breast, kale, and brown rice. Sure that works, but in some situations where you just can’t seem to do without something more calorie dense or downright less bland, water can help!
Next time you have a snack that is on the denser side in terms of calories, drink a few cups of water with it. You’ll notice a huge difference in satiety and fullness water makes, and it will definitely satisfy you mentally when you are struggling to constantly eat “clean” and just need to attend to your cravings. Most vegetables and fruits have a very high water (and fiber) content which is why they are so filling despite the calories. Replicate the trick nature has and try to carry a bottle of water around wherever you go and take a big mouthful whenever you start to feel hungry.
2. Opt For High Protein Foods
Protein is often thought to be “what you need to get bigger” or “fuel for your muscles” but actually, there’s more to it than just that.
Firstly, protein has a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) that your other two macronutrients (carbs and fats) with TEF for protein being ~20-30% whereas for carbohydrates it’s ~5-10%, and for fats ~0-3%. What does this mean? It means your body requires more energy from your body to process and utilize protein, or in simple terms, you will burn more calories than if you had the same caloric amount via carbs or fat. Obviously, this effect won’t be significant enough for you to start pounding a thousand extra calories a day via chicken breasts or protein bars, but having meals more focused on protein will not only provide your muscles the nutrients they need but help you burn a little bit more calories daily.
Secondly, protein is generally under-eaten and it’s understandable as the more palatable options for food out there is usually a combination of carbs and fat with minimal protein. However, the satiety factor of protein is also overlooked. People often tend to think that to be more full you need to have more vegetables as they are high in fiber. While this isn’t incorrect they’ve left out protein as another satiating source of food and many studies have reflected exactly this. Lean protein and fiber is thus a great one-two punch when you’re fighting hunger, and something to try and lean towards when choosing what to eat!
The greatest loss of muscle mass comes from fast-twitch muscle fibers in the lower body, which is your centre for power, balance, and strength.
Muscle and bone are inextricably linked: decreasing muscle strength leads to a weak, vulnerable skeletal system; a reason bone fractures are common in the elderly.
3. Practice Self-Control And Plan Ahead More
Easier said than done, I know. Let’s say you’re at a buffet hosting a whole selection of delicious food. You’re going to want to skip your diet and say “I’ll start again tomorrow”. Tell yourself firmly, “No”.
In order to succeed in any diet you need to practice self-control, and at the least, have a plan. Let’s take the buffet example above and let’s assume that it was planned for tomorrow. There are a few things you can do:
You can plan to eat only the foods you love most (and as mentioned above, drink a LOT of water with it)
You can opt to have higher protein/fibrous foods (again, as mentioned above)
If you’re eating something like a pizza, you can be mindful and skip the crust as every calorie counts
You can eat a little bit less before/after the buffet, or even the day before so that your average daily calories is still within your target
Remind yourself that cheat days do not exist without cost and you will always, always, always have to face the consequences