You take a bite. Log it in My Fitness Pal.
Preparing a meal. Make sure that you have the measurement to the gram.
You take a sip of that sweet, sweet liquor. Oh, don’t forget to enter the digits later.
I may be slightly exaggerating here, or am I?
Calorie and macro tracking is no doubt a sure way to get results, whether it’s for fat loss or strength and muscle gain. But, it can take its toll.
A part of the process is to keep you as stress-free as possible. However, if you live this way constantly then it can actually add to stress. Limiting your overall progress. Of course, this is counter productive to your fitness goals.
Food trackers such as My Fitness Pal have no doubt changed the game in terms of helping educate people and dial in results, but there does come a point where it can actually rule your life.
A dieting process doesn’t – and shouldn’t – be a 24/7 regimented elephant in the room. The problem is that it can be whether you notice it or not.
A healthy dieting process needs breaks so that you’re able to keep touch with intuitive eating. It needs to exist so that you’re not bound by dieting barriers within your mind.
Neither of these ever need to be an issue.
So how can you continue to get amazing results and without ever writing down that cookie you devoured?
INCREASE PROTEIN INTAKE
You would be surprised how often people just don’t eat enough protein in their diet. I have to admit, if I’m on the go then I have to remind myself at times to favour these sources over simply throwing in an extra garlic bread.
Because protein is such a satiating macronutrient, it keeps you feeling more full for longer. So by prioritising it, it’ll limit how much fats and carbs your add into your meals. Keeping your calories lower without ever counting them.
A great tactic I also like is to aim for the protein source first when you’re sitting down for meals. At least this way you can feel full quicker, and possibly limit your fat and carb calories at the same time.
Not only is protein important for recovery, building strength and muscle, it can also help you actually lose fat by burning calories as you eat. You heard that right my friend. This is because of the thermogenic effect of food (TEF). Protein is made up of 20 amino acids which can take the gut time to break them all down for digestion. This requires energy. Resulting in calories being burned. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right there.
If you want to read more on protein then check out this article on macros.
DON’T FORGET YOUR VEG
Along with protein, I’m also shocked at how many people just do not eat enough veg.
Sure, there is the classic stigma attached that they’re bland and boring. Broccoli and cauliflower every day. Don’t forget the cucumber. I have to agree here. When it’s laid out like that, then pass me the number for Papa Johns pizza now.
Of course, veg is like any other food. It’s only as bland or tasty as you prepare it, so get inventive with condiments, spices, and sauces. Of course, try out different types of veg and preparing them in different ways.
So why is veg so important?
Your body craves nutrients for overall health and function. Veggies are stacked with all of this. So by loading your plate of different types of veg, this not only helps all of this, but – like protein – it takes time for the body to process these foods. Keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Score!
The other bonus you get from veggies is that they’re super low in calories. This means that you’re able to load up on food, feeling full, and not have to worry about your calorie intake. Not that you ever should.
Check out this article on low calorie and high nutrient density for more on this.
LIMIT LIQUID CALORIES
This can be one of the worst offenders to any weight loss goals. Mainly because they provide all the calories, but very few – or none – or the nutritious returns that food can.
I even favour a food protein source over a shake every day of the week so that I’ll appreciate and enjoy it more rather than just downing a quick shake. This will still leave me feeling hungry and wanting more.
If you head into the gym then you’re most likely going to see people with Monster, Red Bull, or other types of energy drinks. All loaded with empty calories.
Even the marketers get in on the act with promises of healthier drink options such as vitamin waters and fruit juices. What they don’t tell you is that they’re also carrying a shit ton of calories too.
This can end up leaving you wondering why the hell you aren’t losing weight and cutting out more food from your diet. Instead, it should be these drinks.
No beuno my friend.
This is why I like to lean toward diet Cherry Pepsi Max (I know, I’m truly living on the edge) and coffee. I love the taste and they easily keep my calories low.
These figures can vary, but here’s an example.
Like the liquid calories, snacking can be a pain in the ass.
The problem with snacking is that people who struggle with dieting just can’t stop. Which ramps up their frustration and stress levels.
And when they focus too much on trying to stop snacking they take their eye off the ball in other areas. All the while snacking still exists.
A dieting double-edged sword.
Instead of trying to simply stop snacking. Replace the snack choice. You see, snacking is habitual. It’s a part of your life. A part that you enjoy. So when you try to eliminate a habit, it creates resistance. More problems for you to deal with.
To make this easier you should aim to replace your snacking choices. Rather than grabbing that slab of chocolate that’s on a deal in the supermarket which will leave you still feeling hungry – and guilty – afterward, aim for a protein source or a piece of fruit.
Not only will these snack choices provide you with even more nutritious value. They will help keep you feeling full and your calories low.
THE MAGIC RATIO
Ok I may have tricked you there. There is no magic ratio. What there can be, though, is a ratio for your main meals to tick all the boxes of providing nutrition, keeping you feeling full, lower calorie intake, and be tasty as fuck.
Where people tend to go wrong is, for example, they’re preparing a pasta dish. They throw in a few nuggets of chicken, half a jar of pasta sauce, followed by half a pan of cooked pasta.
I know. I used to be that person.
A simple way around this is by looking at having a decent amount of each macro along with veg per meal.
Use this image as a perfect example.
Again. It’s no magic pill, but it’s something you can eyeball no matter where you are.
LOAD UP ON WATER
This is another one that sounds like a no-brainer, but are you actually doing this?
You’d be surprised at how often you don’t prioritise water intake throughout your day.
Water has an insane amount of importance when it comes to your health. When it comes to hunger, then it’s priceless.
We tend to panic at the feeling – or thought – of hunger. Immediately reaching for food whenever the trigger strikes. It’s worth noting that hunger isn’t a bad thing by the way. When it does, then simply drink a glass of water. This can eliminate whether it’s actual hunger or thirst.
If the feeling is still there after half an hour, then it’s likely that you are hungry. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
KEEP A CAP ON ALCOHOL
This can vary depending on your choice of alcohol of course.
You can easily reach a weight loss goal while still enjoying alcohol in your life, so try to avoid feeling that you must automatically remove it faster than you need to remove that one person that posts ten times a day about absolutely nothing on Facebook.
Alcohol is like the liquid calories I mentioned above. It carries zero nutritional value. Of course, you can view this however you want. If you’re able to reach your weight goals while enjoying a drink or two throughout the week then there’s no reason to change that.
If you want to know more about how to set yourself up for weight loss goals while still being able to enjoy booze then check out my article on that here.
GO ON MINI FASTS
People tend to get caught up on what the best method of intermittent fasting is. Just like everything else, there are various ways to go about this. There is no one wizardry method to follow.
On certain days – such as a rest day – you can save yourself up to 400 calories by skipping breakfast and not eating until lunch time.
Although, if breakfast is your jam, then you can skip lunch or dinner instead. It’s all about personal preference. It’s your diet at the end of the day, so do what works for you.
Not only will this know off a chunk of calories from your day. It’ll teach you more about hunger. Why you shouldn’t sprint to the nearest Nandoes as soon as you feel your stomach rumbling. That you won’t actually suffer and die if you feel genuine hunger for a period of time.
There are worse things in life. Believe me.
An added plus point to going on fasts is that it’ll also teach you more about intuitive eating.
Stomach “I’m hungry. Feed me”
You “Are you really that hungry?”
Stomach “Meh, I can wait”
You “Yeah you will”
Eating when you want, and when you need to.
DON’T BE BORING
It’s ok; I’m not saying you are boring. That’s a little too judgemental. I’m talking about your food.
When people think about dieting for weight loss they can go into autopilot. Removing everything that they enjoy, or have deemed as “bad” food. Only then deciding that veg has a place in life. Posting on Facebook about how they can’t stop dreaming about the Dominoes pizza guy. He’s all of a sudden more popular than Ryan Gosling. Even to straight guys.
Food is more than fuel for your training. To not be viewed as a cheat, or something to binge on whenever you get emotional.
It’s there to be enjoyed. It’s a big part of your social life. It’s freakin’ amazing if you allow it to be.
You fancy some of that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that on deal at the moment? Cool, go get it.
Got a craving for a Five Guys burger? Hella yeah!
That bag of steamed broccoli not going to cut it on your cinema date? Bin it.
My point is, we all know about healthy living and moderation. Applying it isn’t so hard. We just make it so.
Thinking and living this way is far healthier than jumping on countless fad diets, only to continuously be left feeling more deflated than before.
Increase Protein – Protein is more than just for training. It’s an important part of a healthy diet. It’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Don’t Forget Your Veg – Like protein, veg is another important food source that is packed with nutrients. Aim for 1-3 portions daily.
Limit Liquid Calories – Liquid calories can be easily over consumed on. Aim for food over false marketing healthy juice options.
Snacking – Avoid trying to eliminate snacking. It’s a healthy daily habit. Instead, aim to replace snack options for more protein and fruit based ones.
The Magic Ratio – Instead of overloading your plate – ramping up your calorie intake – follow a simple ratio that will keep your meals highly nutritious and lower in calories.
Load Up On Water – Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. Drink a glass of water whenever you feel hungry to make sure. Also keep your intake high for health benefits.
Keep A Cap On Alcohol – Alcohol – like snacking – can be another habitual and social aspect in our lives. It doesn’t need to be fully cut out for weight loss. Just limited.
Go On Mini Fasts – Fasting for short periods of the day – such as skipping breakfast – will save you up to 400 calories without even trying.
Don’t Be Boring – Dieting for weight loss can be viewed as boring or restrictive. Avoid thinking this way. Learn to enjoy food and how it plays a part in your life. Keep moderation in mind.
P.S. So you enjoyed this, huh? We’ll if you want to find out more ways to diet at ease then check out my newsletter below.