Most Diets Sucks...
It's well established that weight loss programs fail to work in the long run. In fact, close to 85% of obese dieters end up returning to their original weight within a few years of initially losing it! (study)
Although I haven't gained weight back from my most recent weight loss journey (where I was able to lose 140 pounds), I did suffer through a few years of yo-yo dieting and have tried and failed multiple diets in my life.
I would lose anywhere between 20-30 pounds before gaining all or more back. What's worse is that each failed attempt at dieting pushed me further and further down the road of depression and hopelessness.
"Maybe I am destined to be overweight for the rest of my life?"
I was lucky enough to find success, but unfortunately, many overweight and obese folks won't have the same good fortune...
It's evidently clear that simply focusing on eating less food is not the answer. Instead, we need to hone in on the real reasons we eat too much. Once those things are identified, it becomes much easier to design a diet and workout plan that will work for each of us.
In my new book Envision Yourself Thin, I stress the importance of designing a diet and exercise program that will help with weight loss in the short-term as well as adopting strategies to maintain a healthy body forever.
These strategies are two of the most important components of a diet that lead to sustainability and adherence, but they are merely pieces of a bigger puzzle.
There are many strategies that can lead to sustainable and lasting weight loss success and it's important to find which ones resonate best with you individually.
There is no set list of strategies that work, and what works for you may not work for someone else. Because of this, it's important to pay attention to your own experiences.
Find what's most effective for you when creating a sustainable and enjoyable weight loss plan.
Like stated earlier, creating healthy habits and mindful eating are two of the best strategies I have found to help with dieting. Another key strategy that has helped me along my weight loss journey is developing tactics to reduce hunger and appetite.
If you've tried losing weight before, you are more than aware of the hunger that comes from consistently eating fewer calories. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky!
Hunger was one of, if not the biggest obstacle I had to overcome during my weight loss journey.
In light of this, I knew that I had to find ways to make eating in a calorie deficit more enjoyable. Here are a few of the most impactful ways I found for doing this.
Tips for Avoiding the "Hangry" Betty White Inside of You
I'm sure you've seen those snickers commercials where people take on ironic alter-egos because of their hunger. If not, check out this video:
While you may not turn into a sassy Betty White, being hungry does change our attitude, and normally for the worst.
I don't know about you, but whenever I am hungry I tend to get a little cranky and have a shorter fuse with people. This can make dieting way more difficult than it needs to be and often leads to cheating and binge eating.
The urban dictionary definition for this is: "Hangry"
While the definition could explain the term well enough, I think this Chris Farley GIF does it best:
Being "Hangry" on a diet is the last thing you want. It makes sticking to your diet more difficult and often leads to cheating or binge eating.
Here are some tips to help you avoid this from happening!
Eat Enough Protein
I am by no means a "Protein-Nazi" like many health and fitness gurus. However, I do believe getting adequate amounts of protein is important.
This is especially true for dieting! (source)
For dieting alone, the satiating effects of protein are reason enough to eat more of it, however if you are resistance training (which you should be), it makes the second benefit of maintaining muscle mass equally as valuable.
To get these benefits listed above, I recommend you get somewhere between 20-25% of your total calories from protein. This recommendation is also supported by this study.
For the Love of God... Stop Drinking Calorie-Dense Beverages!
Seriously... this one drives me INSANE!
(two Chris Farley GIFs in one post!? CAN HE DO THAT!?)
We've already established that staying full during a diet is imperative, so it goes without saying that wasting precious calories on beverages like orange juice and soda is only going to make things worse!
Appetite and hunger is a very popular area of research, and luckily we have lots of well-designed research to show that eating calories from solids is both more filling and more satisfying than getting those calories from liquids (study, study)
The only exception I would make here is for small indulgences. I am not saying that you should avoid social events where there is alcohol being consumed.
In fact, allowing yourself occasionally to have a few drinks or splurge on some chocolate cake can help keep you sanity during a diet!
If I know that I am going out with friends, I account for about 300-400 calories from alcohol and try to stick to low-calorie options like liquor or mixed drinks.
Don't be Afraid to Reach for Another Cup-O-Joe
I've already talked about my opinion on coffee and how I think it's AWESOME in a separate article.
Besides its proven possitive benefits for your mood, energy, and health, Coffee is also a great appetite suppressant!
We have this thing in our bodies called Peptide YY which is released in response to eating and promotes feelings of fullness. Coffee consumption has been shown to stimulate the release of this peptide leading to feelings of fullness. (study)
Don't just "Zone-Out" while you're eating
Eating "mindfully" has become one of my favorite strategies for making dieting easier and more sustainable. In fact, in my book Envision Yourself Thin, I describe mindful eating, or "Attentive Eating", as one of the core strategies for successful weight loss.
Eating mindfully has also been shown to improve satiety during and after meals. Research shows that practicing mindfulness during meals helps people experience greater satisfaction while eating. (source)
I've personally used mindful eating to help me lessen and even eliminate many of the negative associations I have with food.
My biggest struggle with food came in the form of "emotional eating". Practicing mindfulness with my eating has allowed me to better my relationship and get more in touch with my natural hunger signals.
Check out this article I wrote about mindful eating if you want more on this topic!
Trick Your Mind with Different Plate & Utensil Sizes
This tip isn't completely necessary, but I do believe it has some potential to help you eat less. Whenever I was dieting down, I always felt more satisfied after a meal when I used smaller bowls and utensils.
There is actually some research to back up my experiences. For example, a study performed using nutritionists as participants found that even these "experts" unconsciously served themselves 31% more ice cream when given larger bowls (study).
Another study found that participants who dished out snacks from bigger bowls ate about 150 calories more than those who ate from smaller bowls (study).
I am not saying to go out and buy a bunch of mouse-sized bowls and spoons, but being aware of this phenomenon could help you reduce the amount of food you're eating.
Don't Skimp on Sleep
There are a ton of stats and studies showing how a lower quantity and quality of sleep can lead to less than ideal health. The same correlation holds true for hunger and obesity!
There are also studies that link poor sleeping habits to obesity (though, I feel that this may not be the direct cause but rather a component of a bigger problem).
Bonus Tip: Eat some Chocolate!
You heard me right...
Eating dark chocolate has been shown to decrease hunger and reduce cravings for sweets! (study)
One caveat here: the chocolate needs to be DARK chocolate. These same benefits are not found when using milk chocolate.. so sorry Hershey's lovers :(.
Dark Chocolate has quickly become one of my favorite desserts because of this study but also because it tastes awesome once you've acquired a taste for it.
To ensure a success weight loss journey, it's crucial that you develop strategies that are PROVEN to make dieting easier and more sustainable.
Using tools and tactics that help reduce hunger and increase satiety from your food is one strategy that will play a significant role in the success or failure of your diet approach.
As the Snicker's commercial says, "You aren't "you" when you're hungry." Stay away from the stressing and irritating feelings of being "hangry" and dieting will become a much more enjoyable process.
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