I used to know a guy who was a serial re-inventor. Every month or so, without fail, he’d declare himself as something new. It wasn’t like he’d take up a new hobby or find a new interest, he’d fully change his identity. “I’m a photographer” he’d state, before dropping top dollar on the newest course and the latest kit. He became a palaeontologist, a rock climber, a painter, a scuba diver, an archaeologist, and a surfer. Problem was, despite his initial enthusiasm, his latest quest never lasted long.
It can be the same with our diets. The initial excitement of wanting to lose weight soon wears off when you haven’t had a pastry in a week and your friends have invited you for pizza. My friend’s problem was that he wanted to become something completely new without doing any of the work. For those of us who have lost weight before will know, dieting takes effort. With a few tricks up your sleeve, however, long-term weight loss can be simpler than you imagine. Here are five key ways to make any diet easier to stick to.
1# Be Flexible
To lose weight, we have to consume fewer calories than we burn, but while that means we have to restrict ourselves up to a point, it doesn’t mean that we need to give up our favourite foods entirely.
This was shown in a study by Loria-Kohen
- 122 women were put on a 1500 calorie diet and split into 2 groups
- 1 group were allowed to eat bread, the other group weren’t
- While both groups lost weight, significantly more women failed to stick to, or complete, the no-bread diet
If you’re looking at a long-term goal, keep eating the foods you like.
2# Don’t Drink Your Calories
The first thing I pick up on when I analyse a food diary are the drinks. Alcohol, protein shakes, and your morning latte are all well and good, but if calories are in short supply, drinking calories is a luxury you can’t afford if you want to keep hunger in check.
- Zijlstra et al had an interesting study to investigate how liquid calories affect hunger
- They sent 108 people to the cinema on three occasions to watch three different romantic comedies (why wasn’t I part of this study).
- On each occasion, they were given a liquid, semi-liquid, or semi-solid chocolate drink (again, it’s like they designed it for me), and they were allowed to drink as much as they want.
- The results showed that they drank 30% more of the liquid drink than semi-liquid, or semi-solid.
If you want to stay on top of hunger, limit drinking calories.
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3# Take A Break
While I’m a big fan of short term, faster, methods of dieting, sometimes weight loss has to be a long-term gig. If that’s the case, I highly recommend using breaks to split the diet up.
- Using diet breaks have been shown to result in the same amount of weight loss as staying in a deficit for the duration of the diet.
- Diet breaks often result in continued progress if weight loss has plateaued.
- Diet breaks can help maintain your metabolic rate.
- Knowing you have to be in a deficit for 20+ weeks sucks. Breaking it down into smaller chunks makes the process easier.
On a long-term diet, bring calories back to maintenance every 4 to 12 weeks to keep progress moving and to give you a rest from constant dieting.
4# Eat When You Like Eating The Most
Intermittent fasting is becoming mainstream, and many of my clients skip breakfast so they can eat larger meals in the evening when they feel the hungriest. This is pretty individual though, and not all of us are night eaters. If you really love big breakfasts and aren’t that fussed about dinner, then skewing your calories to the morning is a great idea.
- Try restricting the time you eat to 8-hour windows
- This could be later in the day, like 2 pm to 10 pm, if you get the munchies at night.
- It could be 7 am until 3 pm if you’re ravenous in the morning.
Doing this will allow you to have fewer, larger, meals when you want them the most, which will naturally help with sticking to your diet.
5# Get Support
It’s tempting to try to lose weight all by ourselves. Our friends and family don’t always understand our goals or our reasons for wanting what we want, so it can seem like a no-brainer to go it alone. That thinking is a mistake.
Our support network, especially family members, are integral for keeping us on track. Communicating exactly why you want something to a significant other is important, even if it’s difficult. Getting them onboard is essential if they are to help you when things get tough.
There are also other people who want the same thing as you online, and a tonne of great and supportive groups (like this one) exist on the internet.
Finally, support is a huge part of what I do for a living. If you need someone to be there round the clock, then I and other coaches are there to offer guidance and support.
Sticking to your diet can be a challenge. Use these tips to help keep you on track when the going gets tough and lose fat easier than ever before.
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