10 evidence-based tips to help you reduce calories without the need for maths
When you’re a bit like me, anything that promotes some kind of change in the body can become a data fuelled geek fest. An excuse to have graphs with beautiful curves and predictions. A chance to adjust someone’s numbers with minute detail.
This works great for some situations and personalities. Tracking macros and weighing in daily are requirements for my online coaching program for example. But, it’s a bad coach that uses a one-size-fits-all approach. The truth is, lots of people can lose weight all the way to their goal without any of that stuff. Even consciously focusing on your diet for once can lead to improved body composition.
I’m aware that my writing and video content can be a bit numbers driven sometimes. It’s who I am! But don’t think that if you’re not that way inclined that you can’t reach your goals without a by-the-numbers approach. There’s a tonne of evidence-based ways to lose weight without tracking anything. I’ve still got your back!
With that in mind, I nerded out a bit and came up with 10 tips to help you spontaneously reduce calories without the need for maths.
1# Size matters
Use smaller plates, bowls, and cutlery. I’m not kidding. Your perception of how much you eat is partly based on the contrast between the amount of food and the size of the plate. Your brain literally estimates how much appetite you need to consume the amount of food in front of you. Plate size matters. If you have the same sized portion of food on a big or small plate, bigger = less filling compared to smaller.
This is the Ebbinghaus-Titchener size-contrast illusion (excellent name). Which yellow dot is the biggest?
2# Veggie preload
Eat a load of veggies before eating your main meal. You won’t consume many calories and the fibre containing veggies will make you full already. Overeating during the main meal will not be easy unless you’re very dedicated.
3# Drink up
Drink two glasses of water before eating any meal.
A sure fire way to reduce hunger is to eat more protein. This is what tends to happen in a lot of low-carbohydrate studies. Take away carbs, and people tend to start eating more protein. The result is usually a spontaneous reduction in Calories. It’s not the carbs, it’s the protein. Ever tried eating your normal days worth of Calories with chicken breasts? Good luck with that.
Shoot for 30-40g per meal. Gain an understanding of how much food that is first, then use that as a guide at meal times.
5# Variety is not your friend
If you’re hitting the buffet, try to limit food choices. Research is clear that greater food variety leads to more calories consumed. The more choice you have, the more you’re likely to eat. Limit choice and you’re likely to eat less. Boring but true. Having a “little bit of everything” goes a long way to having a boatload of calories. Stick to a few things if you don’t want to over consume that day.
6# Most important meal of the day?
Consider skipping breakfast. Not randomly (see 8#). When some people habitually skip breakfast, they consume slightly fewer calories by the end of the day compared to if they ate it. Ever found yourself in a rush in the morning? You miss breakfast at home but grab that pain au raisin in the coffee shop on the way in instead? Or two of them, only to find you’re starving again 5 minutes later? Not eating until lunch every day can be a viable way to avoid this scenario.
7# Avoid carb avoidance
Don’t think you have to cut out carbs. Concentrate on filling stuff like potatoes, beans, and lentils, rather than bread, pasta, and rice for the most part.
8# Keep it regular
Stop randomly snacking between meals. Your body anticipates when you normally eat and makes you hungry at that time. Eating in a haphazard way throughout the day messes with those hunger signals. Keeping a regular meal pattern helps to manage hunger throughout the day.
9# Have you had enough?
The meal is over when you’re full, not when you hate yourself.
10# Avoid black and white thinking
Once or twice a week, break all these rules. Think of it as a lifestyle, not a short-term fix.
There you have it. 10 ways to lose weight without a smartphone in sight. Don’t underestimate simplicity. Get started.
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