Opt for high volume foods
High volume foods are typically vegetables that are low in caloric density but take up more space on your plate and in your stomach. These are options like leafy greens, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans…you get the idea. You could eat twice or more the serving size on these foods compared to pasta, bread, potatoes, nut butter, or treats.
Have a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Creating a meal plan can be time-consuming, but if you’re serious about a successful dieting phase, you need to do it. Without one in place, you’ll default to your old patterns – ordering take-out, or eating junk food.
If you don’t have time in your week for meal prep, use a meal prep service! The extra cost is probably less than your hourly pay rate, so if you spend more than an hour meal prepping, the service is worth it.
Eat at home
Food prepared in a restaurant tastes better for a reason. They cook with an abundance of oil, butter, and salt. When cooking at home, it’s unlikely that you’ll use a comparable amount of cooking fats or salt, which saves you calories (and money).
Eat nutrient-dense food
A donut and a sweet potato may have the same number of calories, but comparing their quality of nutrients is like comparing apples and oranges. You can still eat donuts and lose weight, but it will be more challenging to stay full between meals and curb cravings.
Options like potatoes, corn, rice, or beans are much higher in fiber, which takes more time to pass through the digestive system. Dietary fiber has numerous other health benefits and will help you feel full longer.
Look for lower-calorie swaps
Cooking fats (oils and butter), nut butter, and nuts are calorically dense. While you should absolutely keep healthy fats in your diet, you can avoid extra calories by swapping cooking oils for cooking sprays or nut butter for powdered nut butter alternatives.
Remember, a diet is not forever. These are not long-term solutions, just an option to reduce calories for the sake of a diet.
Eat enough protein
When dieting, macronutrients need to be adjusted to reduce overall caloric intake. The very last macro you want to cut is protein. Protein is not only essential for daily function but will also help maintain the muscle mass you currently have on your body for an optimal physique at the end of your end.
Protein also takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, which keep you satiated between meals. This is why eating a big bowl of oats or a fruit smoothie leaves you feeling hungry 2 hours later, but eggs and bacon keep you full.
Cut sugary drinks
Beverages like soda, sweet tea, lemonade, sweetened coffee, and alcohol all contain calories that could be easily avoided. Swap for options like carbonated water, add lemon juice to your water, add amino acids to your water or opt for sugar-free alternatives.
Swap your cocktails for a vodka soda, drink 2 glasses of water for every 1 drink, or order sparkling water in a rocks glass. This will slow your intake so you’re not drinking as much in social settings, but you can still participate.
Speaking of drinks, it’s not uncommon to confuse hunger signals with thirst signals. Keep a water bottle near you so you easily stay hydrated throughout the day. This will help with better digestion and will improve your complexion as well.
To truly be successful at this, you need to master your body’s hunger and thirst cues – it may take some experimentation to learn to differentiate between the two, but this will be a healthy habit that lasts for life.
When you’re low on sleep, the body will look for energy elsewhere. If you don’t have enough energy in the tank, you’ll notice you feel hungrier, which is the body’s way of trying to function as normally as possible. The more quality sleep you can get, the better likelihood that your willpower to resist temptations remains strong.
If you don’t want to eat less, schedule more movement into your day. Walk for 15-20 minutes after each meal, add some cardio to your weightlifting routine or pick up an active hobby like golf, tennis, or basketball.
B.S., NASM CPT