As a personal trainer, people often find it so hard to believe me when I tell them they need to eat more. It takes a while for them to get their head around. They want to drop weight, and I tell them they need to eat more? It doesn’t seem to make sense. But to drop body fat, the goal is not to eat more calories but to focus on eating good quality food more often.
When ‘dieting’ goes wrong…
A huge reason why people fail at ‘dieting’ or improving their eating habits, is that they focus on simply cutting their calories right down. This sends the body into fear and can have a negative effect on the metabolism as our bodies start holding onto body fat in case it needs it for later use.
We seem to have an in-built fear of hunger. Our bodies are tuned for survival. We can never out-wit hunger for too long; our instincts will always win. If you want to create effective change and drop stubborn body fat, I highly recommend against going on a drastic diet. You don’t want your body freaking out and slowing down your metabolism because it’s scared it’s not going to get enough fuel in. Your body is smart – it will start hoarding body fat if you go for long periods without eating.
How do I eat more to lose body fat?
So what is the best way to reduce calories but keep quality nutrition coming in and in turn drop fat? One way is to make sure that you’re not going hungry. A good nutrition plan incorporates foods that stop you feeling so much hunger. A small meal every three hours is what I recommend to many people. Anectodatally I’ve seen the most success occur with those who take this approach. It usually equates to five or six small meals per day. Keep in mind that your next meal is just around the corner, so you don’t need to get too full.
If you’re used to eating just two or three main meals per day, try four smaller ones and see how you find it. Then you could try to increase to five. Remember that the meals should be low enough in calories, but they should be satisfying and cover the nutrition requirements for your needs.
Choosing foods that leave you fuller for longer
Here are three factors to consider when choosing the best foods to fill you up, without blowing out your calorie requirements:
- Chew factor
Certain foods are most satiating than others. This comes down to the rate that they are digested. Think about eating a piece of white toast and jam. How long is that going to fill you up for? Not long, because the calories are predominately coming from fast releasing carbohydrates, which send a sudden burst of energy to the body. The body expends the energy very quickly and you become hungry not long after. How many times have you tried to have just one piece of toast? Maybe you have more willpower than me, but if I eat fast releasing carbs I always want more. I do my best to avoid them at all costs. Besides being fast releasing, there is also practically no nutritional value, so the body is left crying out for some nutrients! On the other hand, if you consume healthy and low glycemic carbohydrate, such as wholegrain toast, along with protein and some fat, the combination of the three macronutrients will satisfy you for a lot longer. Over the course of the day, eating in this way will help you consume less calories, without feeling you are starving.
Foods that require little chewing and go ‘down the hatch’ quickly, usually leave us wanting more. Take for example yoghurt, which slides easily down the throat without needing chewing and is consumed very quickly. Compare that to a large salad with lots of crunchy raw veges. All those veges take work to chew and to digest. The body is burning calories trying to digest them and break them down. Add some chicken breast and your body is really working hard. Proteins have a higher thermic effect than other foods, meaning they use up more calories to digest them. Also, the more you have to chew a food, the longer the meal will take to eat, meaning you should feel fuller sooner and more satisfied. The best foods are those that require a lot of chewing. You end up consuming less calories, without feeling deprived.
Fibre is obtained through plant sources. It is not digestible, but provides bulk. The more fibre in food, the more filling it usually is and this will help you decrease your calories slightly without missing out on valuable nutrients. There are many low calorie vegetables and fruits containing fibre. Complex carbohydrates generally contain more fibre, but beware of starchy carbs (like potatoes) if you’re looking to lose weight, and make sure they are within your calorie budget. The best way to do this is to keep a food diary and analyse it regularly alongside the changes in your body fat.
Bear these things in mind when planning your meals and you’ll improve your nutrition habits, feel fuller for longer and find weight loss and maintenance easier.
Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Ambro