Here are three great but often overlooked tricks to help you lose weight and get ready for beach season. Yes, I know beach season is still several months away, but I’m excited nonetheless. Especially since I’m in Massachusetts freezing my ass off.
Time for some good old fashion self evaluation: Are you a fast eater? Do you consistently finish your meal before everyone else? How long does a typical meal take you to finish?
Seeing as it’s always difficult to evaluate yourself, go ahead and write down your own answer and then ask three friends to answer also.
I’ll go first to avoid the awkward silence: yes. I am 100% a fast eater. I know it, my friends know it, and I’m pretty sure anybody I’ve shared a meal with knows this as well. I, however, am not trying to lose weight so I’m not going to worry about it.
For those of you trying to lose weight, on the other hand, slowing down makes a lot of sense.
Here’s why: it takes about 20 minutes for your satiety (I’m full and don’t want to eat anymore) mechanisms to kick in. Thus, if you’re anything like me and tend to blow through food, you’re susceptible to overeating because your brain won’t tell you stop until it’s too late.
Which leads me to my next point: slowing down gives you a much better gauge of fullness. You’ll be way more in tune with your body and be able to adequately respond to satiety cues as they occur. Simply put, you’ll end up eating less, which means you’re taking in less calories, which means there is a better chance you’ll be in an energy debt (what you want for weight loss).
“But James, how long should it take me to eat?”
What a great question. It’s almost as if I wrote that in myself to lead me to my next point.
A great goal to shoot for is 15-20 minutes per meal. Calm down, calm down I know that seems like a really long time, but you can do it. Just incrementally add in 1 minute here, and one minute there, and before you know it you’ll be there. I’d like to emphasize that point again: incremental change. Don’t try and do it all at once. The success rate for building Rome in a day is pretty low. Focus on making small changes every day and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a few weeks.
Stop at 80%
Now that you’re eating slower, I want you to commence eating when you’re 80% full.
Not 100%, but 80%.
And no, this isn’t an exact science. It’s like in high school when my football coach would tell us to run a sprint at 87% effort. Did I know what 87% effort was? Absolutely not. I just felt it out, and you’re going to have to do the same.
Like in the above example, this will help cut back on calories and induce an energy deficit (aka weight loss).
To help you get a better feel for this, I’d suggest using the following “how you should feel timeline.” If you eat the proper amount of food at each meal, your hunger response time should follow this progression.
0 hours after eating: you’re probably still a little hungry, but remember it takes time for your satiety mechanisms to kick in.
1 hour after eating: you should feel satisfied with no desire to eat another meal.
2 hours after eating: you’ll start feeling a little hungry, but not to the point where you have to eat.
3 hours after eating: it’s time to eat! On a scale from 1-10 (10 being I could eat a cow) you should be in the 7-8 range.
4 hours after eating: you’re running people over in an attempt to get to the kitchen.
As you can see, if you manage calorie intake properly you should be eating every 2.5 to 3 hours. If that’s not the case, then you’re either eating too much or too little. Experiment and find what works best for you.
You Have to Earn Higher Carbohydrate Meals
Want to eat something other than fruits and vegetables? Well you’ve gotta exercise first to earn the right to.
You’re body handles more dense, sugary carbohydrates (potatoes, grains etc. etc.) in a much different fashion if you eat them following a workout.
Exercise basically preps your body for the increase in blood glucose levels, so by only eating these types of carbs after a workout you ensure your body is using them to either replace lost glycogen stores or “burning” them to generate energy. When we eat these types of carbohydrates at other points throughout the day, our body doesn’t respond well to the uptick in blood glucose levels and most will be shipped off for storage (weight gain).
In my opinion, most diets fail because people try to do too much too fast. Making change is HARD, so don’t get down on yourself when things get a little difficult.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and don’t try to do too much at once. Like I said earlier, make incremental change. Treat every day or week as opportunity to improve on something small, and within no time you’ve made big change.