Skip the fad diets and useless fat loss tips that lead to rebound. It’s time to put into place strategies that actually work. Below are the tools I use to stay lean even when life is busy and motivation is low.
1. Track what you Eat (even if it’s just for 2 weeks)
Most of us trying to lose weight are seriously unaware of our intake. Dieters severely underreport food intake, even when they think they are being 100% accurate and honest. Whether we are over or under eating on days, at the end of the weej if you haven’t improved in weight or measurements you are eating too much to lose weight. You probably consume a lot more than you are aware of on some days. Even if you are under eating on others this can still be enough to halt any progress.
By using a free app like My Fitness Pal, or even a written food diary, you can raise awareness around food intake. Tracking everything before you consume it is a great practice in mindfulness. The more mindfulness we have around eating the more successful we will be with any body composition goal.
We don’t have to track everything we eat forever, but doing this strictly for a period of time will change the way you think about food. You will become more aware which foods help and which hurt your fat loss efforts.
Remember, the goal isn’t to eat as little as possible. The goal is to eat as much as possible while still remaining in a caloric deficit. Most females can easily lose weight on 1700-2000 calories a day. In fact, aiming for 1200cals or less usually hurts your long term progress by making you stall quicker. Going too low not only makes you miserable, it tends to decrease your bodies overall daily energy output as it tries to conserve energy. This is why a reasonable approach often works better and allows you to keep the weight off. Track what you eat for 2 weeks then see where you need to make changes.
2. Keep a stash of frozen cut veg in your freezer
Most people I speak to don’t hit their daily veggie needs. Unless you are making this a priority, it isn’t going to happen. If you’re lazy like me, the easiest way to get your veg in is by having a stash of frozen, chopped veg at all times in your freezer. Simply microwave or steam and eat with some added flavour or add to a meal. Eating this before any meal also helps curb overeating. Adding it to your favourite meals makes for a more filling and lower calorie meal. You’ll also poop better if you don’t skip the veg.
Frozen veg are often cheaper and won’t go bad a few days after purchase. This means eating healthy can be both easy and affordable.
3. Have a good tasting protein supplement before bed
Having a protein smoothie or convenient high protein snack before bed can kill sweet cravings and keep hunger at bay. Be sure to get a protein you actually enjoy. No use getting a bad tasting one that sits at the back of the cupboard. Check out my casein recipes here for the perfect night time snack!
4. Use IF and save more calories for night time when cravings hit
Most of us experience cravings late at night after our last meal. If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to try intermittent fasting (IF). There are many ways to do this, I recommend simply pushing breakfast back to later in the day and saving more of your daily carbs and calories for your last meal. This is going to make you fuller at night so it’s easier to avoid off plan snacking. Skipping breakfast also gives you more time in the morning to fit in a short walk or get more done. Once you get used to skipping breakfast and stick to your new meal times, your body is likely to not be hungry in the morning at all. Give yourself 2 weeks to fully adjust to this way of eating. For more on how to incorporate IF click here.
5. Reset Sleep Habits
If you aren’t prioritising sleep, it’s likely you aren’t getting enough quality shut eye. Sleep plays a huge role in fat loss. If you are sleep deprived this can negatively effect every aspect of your life. Insulin sensitivity is compromised and hunger hormones increase. This makes losing weight or toning up extremely difficult. Your mood and energy with be compromised, sometimes without you even noticing. Poor sleep is a major ingredient for fat gain. If you struggle with sleep try the following –
Switch off all screens 60mins before bed time and read a book, listen to music or take a bath instead. Avoid all bright light and devices in the bedroom. This will improve the quality of your sleep
Get sun exposure in the morning. If you can wake up and get a 5-20min walk in the sunlight you can help reset your natural sleep wake cycle with the added benefit of vitamin D
Have set sleep and wake times. Schedule in your sleep so that it becomes easier to sleep and wake each day.
Avoid caffeine after 12pm
Getting your sleep on track will make shedding fat so much easier. It will also help keep energy levels up and improve mood. Don’t compromise when it comes to this step!
6. Switch intense or excessive cardio for strength training:
We all know that person who is forever on the elliptical or stairmaster when we hit the gym. They never seem to improve their body despite hours of weekly cardio. They are driving up their hunger with a ridiculous amount of cardio and signalling stress hormones. If you are doing a tonne of cardio and progress is pretty much non existent, it’s time to change your approach. More of a failed strategy does not work. Get off the damn stairmaster and stick to just 3-4 good strength workouts a week. This should make it easier to lose weight by decreasing hunger and stress signals in the body.
A casual daily walking for 5-20mins that isn’t strenuous can replace your hours of gruelling cardio. This will help with recovery rather than hindering it.
7. Hit 30g + protein per meal
Get 30g of protein with each meal. By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the countless benefits of protein. It aids in recovery, promotes lean mass, helps keep you fuller for longer. Don’t make the mistake of having 5-6 tiny unsatisfying meals, just stick to 3-4 high protein meals daily where you consume 30-40g protein. This should put you within your daily protein needs, making it far easier to progress.