9 times out of 10 when I talk to a potential client this is what I hear:
“I lost x amount of weight doing “x” protocol, I stopped doing that and now I’ve gained most if not all of the weight back”
What this tells me is that people are good at following something for a period of time, but then when something happens or when they are done with whatever coaching program or diet plan they usually resort back to what they normally did.
And this is why their weight goes back.
Im sure you have been there at one point, you saw great progress for a period of time following a plan but then something came up like the birth of a child, covid, new job, a big move, a new relationship, etc.
And then before you know it you are resorting back to what you’re used to. And what you used to do got you to where you were at.
What this means is that we can use certain diet protocols to help us get to our goal, BUT you must also develop the behaviors and strategies long term.
Otherwise, it isn’t a matter of if you resort back, it’s just a matter of when.
In this blog I’m going to go over the habits and behaviors we work on with clients to help them not only get leaner but to stay that way long term.
1. Pick a number of meals per day
Setting the number of meals you are going to eat is going to take a TON of guesswork out of each day.
Most clients fail because they have no plan for the day. If you are someone who doesnt want to plan out every meal in advance, I get that.
So instead, just have a set amount of meals per day.
If you are looking to maintain or lose weight and you are struggling, eat only during those assigned meals.
Not only is this going to help you get into a good routine and provide a good foundation to work from nutrition-wise but there is also a study by Alhussain et al. showing that having the same amount of meals per day could increase total daily energy expenditure (the number of calories you burn per day).
This isn’t going to make a drastic difference, but every little bit counts.
As far as meals go, 3-6 per day seems to be best. Pick an amount you know you can stick to.
There may be some periods of your life where 4 meals work best, and then some periods where 6 works best. The biggest thing is that you stay consistent with it for at least 4ish weeks at a time.
Read HERE on what needs to be in each fat loss phase.
2. Protein at each meal
If you are familiar with my work you know how much I preach increasing protein intake.
There are 3 main reasons:
- Helps maintain and build lean body mass. Its needed for muscle. More muscle not only gives you the shape you are looking for, but it also can increase how many calories you burn per day.
- Protein is very filling. Because its filling you are less likely to overeat other foods.
- Protein uses the most energy to absorb and digest. Again this is a small amount, but every little bit adds up.
For example, if you eat the same amount of meals regularly, add more muscle, and increase protein intake now the extra calories burned are going to start to add up.
Aim for about .8 to 1.2 g of protein per lb of bodyweight per day.
Sources of protein include:
- Chicken Breast
- Lean Steak Cuts
- Turkey Breast
- Ground Turkey
- Pork Tenderloin
- Low-Fat & Non-Fat Dairy
- Egg Whites
- Greek yogurt (my favorite is the oikos triple zero)
- Tuna packets
- Protein powder
Read HERE on how to get more protein in your diet.
3. Meal prep
If you’re like me you hate the thought of meal prep.
The thought of spending time making a bunch of food that I will end throwing half away is pretty unmotivating.
For this reason, with myself and my clients, I try to make this process as simple as possible.
The biggest reason people fail with meal prep is that they overcomplicate it and make it into this 6-hour long process.
The tougher something is to do, the less likely you are to do it.
Here are some ways to simplify it:
- Pick 1-2 of these proteins: chicken, steak, ground beef, fish, turkey (or any protein from above).
- And pick 1-2 of these carbohydrates: potatoes, rice, beans, quinoa.
Choose a few seasonings and switch the meals or seasonings up each week.
It literally takes 30-45 minutes to prep these in bulk
A few things on my tips:
1. Protein: If you dont like these proteins there are many others out there. Message me if you have questions.
2. You can add veggies or condiments to each meal. To make this simple my favorite veggies are either a spinach salad or any frozen vegetable. Why? Because there really is no prep time.
Im sure these meals are “boring” but if your only goal is to have each meal be maximized in taste, then maybe the body you think you want isnt really what you want. And there is nothing wrong with that.
What I also like about this is that this still allows for some flexibility with your nutrition, but if you have a good amount of meals made for the week, it reduces the times you will eat things that probably aren’t as nutrient-dense and are easier to overeat.
For example, from here I have my “handy” meals available for times when im in a bind, and then maybe the rest of the time Im eating foods out, or something that Alli or my family made.
Read HERE for my meal prep simplified blog.
4. Slow down when eating/eat undistracted
This basically comes down to being mindful of what you are doing.
It also does take your brain a little bit of time to realize you are full.
Chewing more has also been shown to decrease how many calories someone eats in a meal.
When you eat too fast you also dont get to enjoy what you are doing.
I often tell clients if they are going to eat a certain food that they think is off the plan, then slow down and enjoy it. You’re already doing it so you might as well enjoy it.
Slowing down has also been shown to increase food satisfaction.
When you eat distracted you are less likely to enjoy the meal and slow down. Basically, you aren’t paying attention to what you are doing so you keep eating and eating.
Some tips to improve mindless eating besides slowing down.
- Dont just eat food because its there.
- When eating tasty foods, weigh it out or determine ahead of time the serving size.
- Avoid doing other things while eating like watching TV, working, or driving.
- When you are satisfied, stop eating, even if you havent cleaned your plate.
5. Have a grocery store list
One of the biggest reasons why you will turn to eating out, going through the drive thru, or eating the snack foods in the house is because you don’t go to the grocery store to fill up on more nutritious foods, they simply are not available to them, so in a bind you fall to what is around you or what is easiest.
You also don’t have a plan when you go to the grocery store, you just buy whatever sounds good at the moment, and with unhealthy food on every aisle, it becomes impossible to stick to nutritious foods.
When all you see at your house is junk food, it’s going to be nearly impossible to not eat it.
So instead you need to figure how to set yourself up for success by having more nutritious foods available at home and less junk food at the house. One way to do this is by having a grocery store list made out before each trip.
This will help you stay on track while shopping by buying what you need to keep nutritious foods on hand, spend less time in the grocery store, and minimize impulse buying.
Multiple studies have shown that having a grocery store list can be an effective tool to increase nutritious food consumption and lower BMI (Public Health Nutrition, 2007) (Dubowitz, 2015).
By having a list it puts us in control of what YOU eat for the week.
Some other tips for grocery shopping:
- Be careful of specials (i.e two for one, buy on get one 50%)
- Dont try the samples of foods the grocery store offers.
- Limit buying of jumbo-sized packages
- Limit buying of tempting foods.
6. Have a limit to how often you eat out per week.
In a perfect world, you go just go out to eat whenever you want.
But what you forget is that the restaurant’s only job is to get you to come back and spend more money. So they are only worried about how tasty the foods are.
The downside here is that this makes it easy to overeat calories if most of your meals are away from home.
Not to mention the portion sizes are usually only the right amount for a 6’5 250lb human.
Most of us aren’t that.
And the downside here is that it’s tough to not eat what’s in front of you or what you paid for.
Some tips when it comes to eating out:
- Decide in advance what you are going to get and the portion sizes.
- Share an order with someone.
- Make it habit to leave something on your plate.
7. Flexible restraint not rigid restraint
When it comes to nutrition try to avoid having a rigid restraint mindset.
Having a rigid approach with your nutrition is correlated with things such as:
‣Less weight lost/maintained.
‣More common overeating.
‣More frequent and severe binge eating.
‣Poorer body image.
‣Higher food focus.
Now correlation does NOT mean causation, but these findings are interesting.
What could be a rigid approach?
‣You can’t have certain foods, and can only have “good” foods.
‣You have to hit EXACT macro/calorie amounts.
‣You have to get exactly 80g of rice on the food scale.
‣You don’t go out to eat because you don’t know how to track it.
Basically, you either do it exactly as is or you failed.
That’s why with online nutrition clients we create structure around their nutrition to provide flexibility (while still having some restraint) instead of having a black and white/rigid approach.
Some things are more important than others. So we focus on priorities and getting better at
managing those priorities over time.
For most people the biggest priorities are:
➊Eating around the right amount based on their activity levels and goals.
➋Eating an adequate amount of protein per day to help with the building and maintenance of muscle.
➌Learning to eat to fuel/nourish their body rather than to just lose weight.
We work with ranges and continuums instead of yes or no.
For example, you have a protein goal of 150g, but the goal is to get within 10-20g of that goal instead of having to hit exactly 150g each day.
Certain times we focus on more restraint, and then sometimes we have less restraint.
You need to have some restraint with your nutrition in order to change, however, focus on the big rocks first before you worry about the pebbles.
If you can implement these habits into whatever diet protocol you decide to do, then you will set yourself up for success not only now but in the long term.
If you need more guidance around your nutrition and how to implement these habits fill out the coaching form HERE and lets chat.