Losing fat or weight loss is one of the biggest markets around. Every year the percentage of obese people rises and rises. This is due to a combination of factors, but mostly making bad food choices and inactivity are the main culprits.
When it comes to getting a lean, toned, healthy, physique nothing is more important than your diet. Except for the genetically gifted that can eat whatever they want and be lean, most people will have to be very good and very consistent with their diet. You want those 6 pack abs? You want those toned legs and arms? Well, if you do then you better have your diet in order. Don’t be mistaken, most people who have well defined physiques eat very, very well. It is a way of life for them.
The word “diet” makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. This is probably because most people who have tried to lose weight, have tried many different diets and all have failed. It also means that they know they will have to give up certain foods that they do not want to.
What if we could make dieting easy? What happens if you were on a diet that you were never hungry or had no cravings? How long do you think you could follow such a diet? Probably very long, or as long as was needed to lose the amount of weight you needed.
I have worked with hundreds of people helping them lose weight. I wish I could say that every single one of them succeeded and reached their goals, but unfortunately some do not. There are various reasons for this, however my job is to give them the highest percent chance of achieving their goals and there are certain things that if they follow, will dramatically improve their chance of success. The ones that have failed have not followed one or many of the things that I am about to talk about.
So here it is, in no specific order are what I believe are the top 10 rules that you should follow once you finally decide you want to get the job done. By following these rules you greatly increase your chance of success!
1. Throw Out Your “Weakness Foods.”
Everyone has these foods. It varies from person to person but it is the food that you have very little control over. They are usually high carb and/or high fat foods. The usual suspects are: ice cream, cookies, pastries, chips, chocolate, candy, pizza, soft drinks, bread, etc. Actually bread is one of the biggest ones and seems to be most people’s weakness. People love their breads! So if you know that you have very little self-control when it comes to certain foods then you should throw them out. Keeping them around will not only cause stress but more than likely at some point you will crack and there goes the diet.
2. Prepare Your Meals Ahead Of Time
Meal prep is a big one. You cannot expect to be cooking or making something from scratch for every meal that you are going to eat. Most people will be eating 3-4x/day and this would take too much time and effort. The night before you should know and have made all of your meals for the next day so that when it is time to eat you have it there ready. When you are not prepared you will end up trying to “wing it” or you will get so hungry because you haven’t eaten in so long that you will eat anything in sight and usually a lot of it. Make your meals, put them in containers and take them with you so that when it is time to eat it’s all there ready to go.
This is a picture from one of my clients. When he showed me this I was totally impressed! I said I need that pic to show my other clients. I know for a fact that this person is very busy but he plans accordingly, no excuses. My question is, “how long do you think he will be able to stay on the diet as opposed to the unprepared person?” Eating and preparing like this greatly increases your chance of success. I wish my food prep was this good!
3. Eat Protein At Each Meal
Of all the 3 macronutrients- protein, fats, and carbohydrates-protein is the one that keeps us the fullest and keeps hunger at bay. It also has the highest Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) of all the macronutrients. This means that when you eat protein it takes a larger % of calories to digest it than fats and carbohydrates.
Protein: 20-35% of calories to process
Carbohydrates: 5-15% of calories to process
Fats: 0-5% calories to process
So if you eat 200 calories of protein you will burn between 40 and 70 calories just to digest them. Not too bad for doing nothing right?
4. Eat A High Protein, High Fat Breakfast
What you eat first thing in the morning affects your neurotransmitter(brain chemical) production for the day. The combination of protein and fats will not only give you more energy but will also make you less hungry throughout the day. It is not uncommon to not be hungry for a very long time if you eat enough protein and fat for breakfast. If you find that you are hungry soon after breakfast then you need to increase the amount you eat.
The Meat And Nuts Breakfast is something I learned on one of my internships with master strength and conditioning coach Charles Poliquin. He is regarded as the best of the best in strength and conditioning, when he speaks it’s a good idea to listen.
I know it may sound weird but try this tomorrow:
For breakfast have meat and a handful of nuts. Take note of your energy levels and mental clarity throughout the day. Also notice how your hunger throughout the day is greatly reduced!
5. Eat Healthy Fats At Every Meal
Healthy fats are essential to health and well-being as well as weight loss. Although fats do not make you eat less at the meal you are eating, they do affect how long it will take for you to be hungry again. So for example if you had a salad with chicken breast you can add in some olive oil or avocado (both of which are good fats) to slow down digestion and keep you full longer.
6. Eat Every 3-5 Hours
For most people I like to keep it between 4-5 hours between meals. This way you never really get too hungry. I don’t really like to go longer than 5 hours so that we get a constant supply of protein for muscle growth/repair. After 5-6 hours without protein your body will begin to break down muscle tissue for it’s protein needs. This will slow down your metabolism as muscle tissue is essential to keeping metabolism high. The more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate will be.
Also eating every 3-5 hours will keep blood sugar levels more stable and keep hunger at bay.
7. Load Up On Non Starchy Vegetables
When dieting I give my clients a list of vegetables that they can eat unlimited amounts of. Not only do they provide many healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients they also help alkalize the blood from a high protein diet. They also provide a lot of fiber and will help keep you fuller, longer.
8. Totally Eliminate Sugars And Starches
I have found that totally eliminating sugars and starches is way better than trying to slowly cut them out. It is usually only difficult for the first 1-2 weeks then it becomes amazingly easy. Even the biggest carboholics that I know find it easy after the break in period. You have to remember that sugar and carbs are and addiction and have similar effects on the brain as certain chemicals and drugs. Sugar and carbs do affect the reward centers in the brain and release dopamine. In fact a study with rats showed that rats will prefer sugar water over cocaine.
This is why you must totally remove the addiction and be strict on it. In the same way you would totally remove alcohol from an alcoholic, you must remove carbs/sugar from the addict as well. Cold turkey is the best way in this regards. You might go through slight withdrawals (headaches, dizziness, cravings, mood swings, etc.) but they are shortly lived. You will feel way better once this is over with.
9. Don’t Have Small Cheats
Most diets should have planned cheats in them or free meals. Whatever you want to call them. But what I am talking about is the small little cheats here and there throughout the week. Even if it is 1 cookie or a few chips or whatever. Calorie wise no, it is not going to make a huge difference but it is definitely not going to help. However by doing this you are keeping your cravings around for sweet foods. This would be like an alcoholic having a drink here and there. Next thing you know they are full blown drinking again. Same goes with food small cheats here and there next thing you know the diet is blown totally and over.
Also psychologically something happens when you have these small cheats. You are no longer doing it perfect and the small cheats end up snowballing to bigger and more often. It has to be black or white.
10. Do Have Planned “Free Meals” And Diet Breaks
Planned free meals should be the part of any restrictive diet. This is mostly for psychological reasons as straight dieting with no end in sight is not reasonable for most people. Knowing that you can have whatever you are craving at the end of the week helps a lot with sticking to a diet. The free meal will also provide some carbohydrates to help fuel workouts so that you can train harder. As a person starts getting leaner they can eventually move to a whole free day once every 5-7 days.
Planned diet breaks should also be included. This will vary on a lot of things and will range from every 4-16 weeks. This will depend a lot on how much weight the person has to lose. The purpose of the diet break is to help elevate fat burning hormones and enzymes that become depressed with dieting for long periods. These are usually done for 2 weeks minimum. These also have to be structured properly so that a person does not gain unwanted fat. It is not a “free for all.” The goal of this diet break should be to eat at maintenance calories with a specific number of carbohydrates to.
There you go! Follow these rules when dieting and watch how much easier your diet is to follow AND stick to!