Brad Borland is a strength & conditioning specialist, cancer survivor and the founder of WorkoutLab.
Do you want some free advice that you can implement instantly? How about some tips that can immediately impact your results when dieting and ultimately get you to your goals faster?
Then I have just a one more question for you.
Do you have the drive, desire and tools to forge ahead with your dieting efforts only to find yourself over time growing weary and risking stumbling into pitfalls? Then you need a short list of hacks when you find yourself in those sticky situations of potential setbacks.
Below are just a few examples of fixes and tricks to help you along on your journey to a better, leaner and more muscular physique. These seemingly small and subtle tips can help you make huge strides toward your personal fitness and dieting goals. Try a few, try them all; just be sure to give them time to spawn significant and substantial change all free of charge!
Hack #1 - Chew slowly
One of the easiest and fastest ways to help those hunger woes is to actually go slow. Slow down and chew your meals slowly. If you find yourself scarfing down your food like a homeless dog behind a butcher shop then take a step back, become aware of the experience of eating and take it slow.
This will help you in two ways. It takes the brain around 20 minutes or so to completely receive the message that the stomach is filling with food. The longer you eat the greater chance the brain gets the signal and accepts that you are getting full. The second benefit is when you are able to double the amount of chews for each bite of food you will find that you enjoy the food more and become more satiated.
Hack #2 - Drink water before a meal
Here is another instant fix. Adopting the practice of drinking a full glass (eight ounces or so) of water prior to each meal is a sneaky way of telling your gut not to eat too much. Water literally fills the stomach’s empty space creating a feeling of fullness subtly coaxing your brain into thinking that a big meal is off the menu.
This is a great way to perceive small meals while dieting as enough to fill you up.
Hack #3 - Think protein first
It is difficult to weigh and measure everything you are eating if you are the type to keep track of every calorie and morsel of food. Now, compound that challenge when you are out at an event or dinner with friends. What to do?
When choosing menu items, just put protein at the forefront. Steak and veggies, fish and rice or any other combination will work fine. Heavy pasta plates and other carb-laden dishes can throw you off the wagon fast!
Hack #4 - When in doubt, eat fat
After your protein is determined, focus next on healthy fats. Not only are fats beneficial for heart, hair and nail health they are also responsible for hormone regulation, fat metabolism and energy production that all spells good news for you. Just don’t go overboard with too much fat as it has over twice as many calories per gram as protein and carbs.
Hack #5 - When in a bind, fast
Whenever you find yourself outside of your eating comfort zone do you often just eat whatever? Do you give yourself the green light to just overindulge? Fight the urge.
If it is just a temporary situation (traveling, long drive, etc.) the best thing to do is drink plenty of water and fast. Fasting for a short period of time when your only options are the bad kind will keep you on track for the long run. Simply wait it out until you find healthier choices. You will thank yourself later.
Hack #6 - Carb up around training
Another good rule of thumb to abide by is to ingest most of your carbs around your training. Doing so will ensure that most of that food energy will be used as fuel for training versus storage for fat. Moderate amounts of complex carbs bookending your workouts will not only give you a much needed boost for training it will also keep your metabolism in check during those low carb times of the day.
Hack #7 - Eat when hungry
Meal times, food journals and calorie counting all have their place in an effective eating plan, but never feel obligated to eat when you are simply not hungry. Our bodies ebb and flow when it comes to metabolism, hunger, energy levels and moods – it never behaves in a linear fashion. Don’t put pressure on yourself to eat a specific meal of a specific amount at a specific time of day. Listen to your body’s signals and act accordingly.
Hack #8 - Cheat openly
Conversely, you may find yourself needing to take in more calories than usual. As with the above (#7), taking into account the moods, hunger and metabolic changes throughout the week, you will most likely have an internal need for more calories than normal at times.
Cheating once or twice per week is highly advisable while dieting due to the fact that your metabolism takes a beating and will eventually try to slow down to conserve energy. Taking in a surplus of calories (strategically) can alleviate this speed bump and get your fat burning furnace firing again.
Hack #9 - Eat before going out
A major pitfall for any dieter is the dreaded array of party food during the holidays, birthdays or office event. Sugar and fat-laden foods are displayed at arm’s length in perfect bite-sized portions for everyone to easily enjoy. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Eat a protein and healthy fat-rich meal prior to the event. That way you won’t be in a famished, eat-everything-I-see mode of thinking. Instead allow yourself to indulge a little but having a limit and a full stomach will go a long way in helping you stay on track.
Hack #10 - Pre-plan
If you know you will be away from healthy food choices for a significant length of time, plan ahead. This seems to be a no-brainer but how many of us actually put it into practice. Taking along healthy snacks such as nuts, beef jerky and even protein bars can potentially be just what you need to stay on your path. Like the saying goes, there is no such thing as a rainy day when you remembered to bring your umbrella.
Hack #11 - Green is free
Learning to be best friends with green vegetables will give you an unfair advantage on your quest. Green (especially leafy) veggies are virtually considered free foods when it comes to the overall picture of your diet. A word of advice: load up on them. They are fibrous, filling and offer a myriad of great benefits to your health.
Hack #12 - Eat real food
Supplements such as protein powders, amino acids and meal replacement bars all have their place for convenience and variety but under normal circumstances real food is still the best option. Eggs, fish, meat, chicken, turkey, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and natural oils are foods familiar to the body and are filling. Supplements are just that – to supplement your already existing diet foods.
Hack #13 - Pick up the pieces
You WILL have days where you find yourself on the ground from being thrown from your horse. Travel, family obligations, work schedules, events, life altering events – let’s face it, life happens and we must accept these hopefully rare times of our lives. Do not despair!
Don’t just chuck your whole plan in file 13 with hopes of starting over when the dust settles. All is NOT lost. Instead, then and there, pick up the pieces, get back on your horse and press on! No matter how far off track you veered simply steer back over toward your goals and keep taking those small steps. They quickly add up when you least expect it.