1. Use a habit-based approach.
A more sustainable, habit-based approach that doesn’t include a drastic calorie deficit can give you a better chance at adapting — physiologically and psychologically — to a healthier lifestyle, without your metabolism coming to a screeching halt. This point of view is consistent with The Biggest Loser research paper, which closes with recommendations to focus on health markers like insulin and triglyceride levels rather than weight loss, and to take a more moderate approach with exercise and calorie reduction for long term success.
Here at Fit-2-The-Core we practice one of the most effective principles from Precision Nutrition, a habit-based approach by gradually introducing our members to small, manageable daily practices that support healthy eating and movement.
2. Eat slowly.
This is another foundational habit used at Fit-2-The-Core from Precision Nutrition. Many studies show that people who eat faster are heavier than people who eat slowly, and that people who train themselves to eat more slowly eat less, and lose weight as a result. There’s a 20-minute delay in satiety hormone signaling when you eat, so if you plow through a huge plate of food in 10 minutes, you’re liable to eat it all before you realized you’re actually stuffed.
In fact, it’s proven that simply reducing the number of bites you take per minute by half is effective at reducing your energy intake by 40 percent, particularly in big eaters. That’s why we coach our members to eat slowly. Play a game with yourself: Try to be the last one eating — even after your slow-as-molasses toddler). Tune into hunger and satiety cues, which tell you how much food you really need.
3. At meals, eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
If you’re saying, “I’m stuffed!” after your meals, you’re probably overeating and/or eating for the wrong reasons, which will make it very challenging to control your energy intake. Another keystone from Precision Nutrition Coaching: Eat until 80 percent full.
This helps ensure that you’re not eating more than you need by:
• Helping you connect with your physical hunger cues
• Decoupling eating from emotions
• Breaking the deprivation/binge pattern and mindset
• Regulating your appetite
Feeling full, anxious, lethargic, foggy-headed, heavy, or extremely thirsty are signs of overeating that warrant an 80-percent experiment. Next time you eat lunch, eat slowly, take a good break after each bite, and ask yourself, “Am I still truly, physically hungry?” If the answer is yes, take another bite, chew slowly, and repeat. If the answer is no, end the meal and start monitoring fullness/hunger cues until dinner.
4. Reduce stress.
When you experience psychological stress, cortisol shoots upward. Research has linked increased cortisol with weight gain, likely due to poorer food choices and physiological changes. It’s conceivable The Biggest Loser participants experience considerable psychological stress: Undergoing an intense weight-loss program on national TV; airing their traumas to the world; regaining the weight when everyone knew they’d appeared on the show;
feeling the shame of “failure”. Every day, take steps to reduce your stress level and recover from all the hard work you do — physical and otherwise.
• Sit and read a book
• Go for a walk
• Play with your cat
• Get a massage
• Take a warm bath
• Do yoga
Of course, what you find rejuvenating might be unique to you. Just be honest with yourself: Some activities that have the reputation for being relaxing — say, watching TV or throwing back shots at the bar — may be more escapism than true stress reducers.
5. Put your environment to work.
Change is hard for most people, and it’s partly due to our hardwiring. Research shows that most of the decisions we make are automatic, based on patterns and brain shortcuts as opposed to rational thought. We react to what’s in front of us, and our actions are often impulsive and/or the result of motivations we’re not fully conscious of. That means our environment powerfully shapes our decisions — including food decisions — more than we realize. We eat whatever’s in front of us, finish all the food regardless of portion size, consume more when we’re multitasking… and more.
Tough to change your eating habits when those habits are based on thoughts you didn’t know you were having, huh? But you can use this hardwiring to your advantage by putting your environment to work to control your energy intake:
• Keep fresh fruits and vegetables within view
• Park far from the office so you have to walk
• Don’t keep junk food at home
• Get a dog that needs walking
If your familiar with strategies that it takes to lose fat, then these should sound familiar. It’s no secret that when you use a sustainable approach to fat loss and health, that the strategies to sustain fat loss tend to be the same common sense strategies that you can follow for a lifetime.