with Joe Bonyai M. ED, CSCS, USAW
With the Summer still very much here, “beach bodies” continue to be in the front of many people’s minds. When most people plan to diet on their own, they typically adapt a “restriction” mindset. Restriction can include anything from eliminating certain foods altogether, shrinking portion sizes or just staying out of your cabinets before you go to bed.
Unfortunately, these short term strategies have long term consequences. Chronic restriction usually results in weight rebound, cyclical dieting and increased difficulty losing weight in the future. These are all insignificant compared to the damage that multiple failed diet attempts can have on someone’s emotions, self-esteem and even personal relationships and professional performance.
Instead of worrying about what you need to eliminate from your diet, look forward to how many good ADDITIONS you can make to feel full, “crowd out” cravings and cut calories without even knowing it. Here are 6 strategies for sustainable fat loss and future weight maintenance.
Appetite is often dehydration in disguise. When you wake up in the morning, drink 2 glasses of water. This isn’t just fat loss advice, we are all dehydrated in the morning so give your heart, brain and joints what they need to start the day. At lunch and dinner, drink a glass of water BEFORE you eat. Drink a glass during your meal as well.
Add a banana to breakfast, apple at lunch and a half cup of berries to your dinner salad. By adding fruit, you’ve added water, fiber and something sweet to each meal which can help feel full, stay full and happy. Also, don’t fear fruit or worry that it contains “too much sugar”. A banana, apple, and half cup of berries would only account for 220 calories combined.
Do NOT Cut Carbs
The most popular general weight loss strategy of the last two decades has been to drastically reduce carbs from the diet. Although this can lead to rapid weight loss, most of which is from water loss, it is not sustainable. My primary goal is to prevent you from adapting a restriction mindset, from fearing or demonizing food or from having food-focused anxiety at social events or while you are traveling. If you ADD good daily diet decisions (water, fruit, vegetables, protein), you will prevent overeating or bingeing on easily palatable, high calorie carbs. If you need a more concrete action plan, keep your sweets/treats to a small bowl portion 2x/week. We all need comfort food. Call it your “soul bowl”.
Add Avocado to your Salad or Sandwich
Avocado might be a diet secret weapon. It contains three things that slow digestion, stabilize blood sugar and keep you from getting hungry too soon after a meal: fat, fiber and water. One half of an avocado contains only 170 calories but significantly increases the perceived weight or density of sandwich or salad.
The Power of Protein
Include a source of complete protein in every meal. Eggs, fish, poultry, meat and protein powder are all acceptable. A palm size serving of chicken breast packs over 50 grams of protein, yet only contributes around 225 calories. One can of tuna contains 22 grams of protein and only 100 calories. Egg whites only contain 17 calories each, however, adding 2 or 3 to scrambled eggs or an omelet can nearly double the volume on your plate.
Spread Out Your Meals, Literally.
What looks like a lot of food to the eyes will feel like a lot of food to the body. Slice up potatoes, fluff up rice, use shallow bowls for pasta, and smaller dishes for entrees. This trick will also force you to take smaller bites, which results in eating your meal more slowly and leads to better communication between your stomach and brain to stop eating when you’ve had enough. Eating too quickly can quickly lead to overeating.