I can’t even count the number of strategies, tips and tricks that we can implement if we want to lose fat. This is great because different protocols work for different folks–but it can also cause us to get lost in a sea of ideas. In this blog, I am going to narrow down the list to just three fat loss strategies that I’ve found to be the most powerful for my clients across the board.
#1. Learn to hear your body’s hunger cues and use them to figure out when + how much to eat. Calorie counting and macro-tracking doesn’t appeal to everyone. While it’s a popular method today and some find it very useful, it’s not required for fat loss. By tuning into our hunger cues, we can differentiate between cravings, emotional hunger and physical hunger. We can learn when to eat, how much to eat and when to stop. In a nutshell, here are some things you can do:
A) The first step is to become aware of your hunger cues. If you’ve been dieting, restricting food or overeating you may have gotten used to ignoring your hunger cues. When you think about it sticking to any rigid diet or trying to hit a very precise caloric total each day requires this. There is no need to worry, though, because your hunger cues haven’t gone anywhere and you can practice tuning in again. You may want to start with taking note of when you feel hungry, when you want something despite hunger (a craving or emotional eating), and when you feel satisfied.
B) The second step is allowing yourself to feel hungry for a little while. This might take a little getting used to. Lots of people are used to eating as soon as they feel hungry or over-eating often enough that real, true hunger doesn’t have a chance to appear. However, if we want to lose body fat then we will feel some hunger. Once you’ve noticed your hunger, see if you can wait a little while before satisfying it: one minute? Thirty minutes? Sixty minutes? These are reasonable waiting times (I wouldn’t recommend waiting hours upon hours until you’re ravenous).
C) Eat your next meal while checking on your hunger cues. Eating slowly and mindfully with fewer distractions will help you tune into the signals your body is sending you. For fat loss, you will want to stop eating when your hunger has gone away rather than when you feel “full.” Once you’ve reached step three, you go back to the start of the cycle.
#2. Center most meals around a protein, a healthy fat and a vegetable. Listening to our hunger cues is crucial (how you eat) but what we choose to eat is an equally important part of the equation. I encourage clients to aim for approximately 30g of protein, 15g of healthy fat and lots of veggies at each meal (eating 3 or 4 meals per day, no snacks). Why? As Georgie Fear explains in her book Lean Habits this combination is optimal for longer satiety (keeps the hunger levels down), provides adequate nutrients, promotes hormonal health and preserves muscle mass while losing fat.
The great thing about these guidelines is that they provide a framework while allowing flexibility. This means you can choose foods that work for you and your family, make smart choices at restaurants and maintain a social life while losing fat. You may need to learn a bit more about which foods will help you meet these guidelines. You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram where I post pictures of meals that fit this criteria.
#3. Make sure you’re getting 7+ hours of sleep most nights. Yes, sleep plays a big part in fat loss because of it’s impact on our hormones. Skimping on sleep results in lower levels of leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite) and higher levels of ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite). This means that you not only feel hungrier but you also crave foods like as candy or baked goods that give you a fast source of energy. We also know that missing out on sleep is associated with obesity and Type II Diabetes.
Adults require between 7-9hrs of sleep per night. I know many clients have a hard time getting the recommended amount of sleep. It can be particularly tricky because you can’t really control whether or not you fall asleep. What you can control is the number of hours you spend in bed! This can be a great place to start — try making bed time for yourself and promise to be in bed during that time, whether you actually are asleep or not.
Are any of these strategies missing from your life? If so, consider slowly incorporating them into your routine and see what happens! If you’re looking for a little more assistance, feel free to reach out to me to ask a question or to inquire about one-on-one coaching.
FEAR, G. (2016). LEAN HABITS FOR LIFELONG WEIGHT LOSS: mastering 4 core eating behaviors to stay slim forever. S.l.: PAGE STREET PUB CO.