Today’s culture has made being overweight and carrying around extra body fat something we are taught to feel shame about. Interestingly, packing on some extra pounds has also become more prevalent in our society than ever before. Unfortunately, the stigma that comes from carrying around excess body fat is primarily that it is the result of laziness and a lack of discipline. While this isn’t necessarily true, it is important to understand that regardless of why someone may be overweight, they would be doing their health a favor by working on burning off some of their extra body fat.
The biggest limiting factor to losing body fat is that it is hard! Science has shown that a simple calorie deficit, or, eating fewer calories than your body is burning, is the yellow brick road to a more slim waistline, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy feat!1 The food choices we are left to choose from as we navigate the craziness of our lives make keeping calories in check a real challenge. But, in the process of losing 95 pounds, I’ve found that by following a few simple diet hacks, you can be well on your way to shedding the unwanted weight and feeling your best without sacrificing your sanity and feeling like you are starving.
Here are the most effective strategies I found to keep calories in check without feeling like you are starving yourself.
Substitute Low/No Cal Drink Options
Liquid calories are a surefire way to sink your diet ship before you even really get started. Drinks like soda and alcohol can contain 150-200 calories in a single serving2 and will do nothing to make you feel more full. Often times, they can leave you feeling more thirsty than before you drank them, causing you to consume multiple servings in a truly disastrous negative feedback loop. Finding low calorie or, better, no-calorie options such as diet soda are a great way to get your fix without breaking the calorie bank.
Stick To Lean Proteins
Protein can be a fantastic food to rely on when you are trying to slim down. Not only is protein an essential macronutrient that is vital for your health, but it is satiating and works to curb your hunger. The issue lies in the fact that many proteins are also high in fat. Meats like pork and some cuts of beef can seem like a healthy choice but, in all actuality, are loaded with calories. Sticking to white fish, chicken, and lean beef (90% or leaner) will budget your calories effectively while still allowing you to enjoy the tasty, satiating satisfaction of eating meats.3
Portion Your Feel-Goods
The most effective diet in the world is not necessarily the one that limits your calories the most drastically. For any diet to be effective, you have to be consistent over the long haul4; completely restricting your favorite calorie-dense foods is a recipe to tap out early. Allow yourself to enjoy the treats that make you feel good, just be sure to do your research and eat them in portions that allow you to manage your calories.
Are you planning to go out for burgers and a beer for dinner? Whatever you do, don’t cancel these fun plans for the sake of your diet. Completely cutting out the enjoyment that comes with food is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, recognize the higher calorie meals before they come, and plan ahead. Stick to lower-calorie foods during the day so you can enjoy your meals later, guilt-free.
Patience Is Everything
If there’s one thing I’ve learned while losing weight, it’s that to acheive meaningful results you will be required to be consistent over a longer period of time than you might be expecting. The reality is, the weight you are trying to lose wasn’t gained in a day, week, or even month; it won’t be lost that quickly either. The incredible transformations you see online are definitely within the realm of possibility, but to see those changes you will need to be committed much longer than most in the industry will admit. There’s nothing glamorous about weight loss, and there is no way to fast track the results you are looking for. If you are told otherwise, the changes are pretty high that you are being sold something (that probably won’t work).
Losing body fat can have a dramatic positive impact on your health and happiness. You will have more confidence, more energy, and the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished something many try but few achieve. The best news is that you don’t have to starve yourself to get results, stick to the guidelines above, and the rest will fall into place.