For a period of time most people should track their calories, it’s a useful skill that helps you better understand portion sizes, and the caloric density of food.
This is especially important for anyone who has a fat loss goal, or who’s fat loss is stalled and they don’t know why.
By doing a little tracking and getting familiar with how many calories foods have people avoid the “health halo” effect which is when someone believes a food to be healthy and gives the food a free pass think “but it’s healthy.”
Your body truly does not give a shit if your calories are “healthy calories” if you eat too many of them you will gain body fat, healthy calories or not.
In the united states there’s a huge case of portion distortion where we’re constantly being served, and eating larger portions of food than needed.
Over time these larger portions become normalized and you assume that’s how much you should be eating.
While tracking calories can be a pain in the ass, your options are to continue to bang your head against the wall and not get results, or take the time and get some objective data from tracking and realize where you’ve been slipping up.
I’ve yet to have a client who tracked their calories and didn’t end up with a lightbulb moment about a few different foods they were eating regularly that were contributing to their stall.
However there are going to be times and periods where you don’t feel like tracking, and that’s completely understandable as I don’t know a single person who tracks all the time.
If you have zero interest in tracking and still want to lose fat these are the top five strategies you can implement to help you achieve a calorie deficit for fat loss.
1. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be a great way for you to compress the amount of food you eat into a smaller window, and create a calorie deficit without tracking calories.
The caveat to this is to make sure you’re not overeating when you do break the fast, and eat as you normally would.
When you start fasting you will feel some hunger, but the interesting thing is you can retrain your hunger hormone (ghrelin) to spike at different times by changing the pattern of your reating consistently.
An easy way to warm up to fasting is to simply drink coffee and skip breakfast and make lunch your very first meal of the day and continue eating with your normal eating pattern.
Don’t worry there is absolutely no evidence that breakfast is the most important meal of the day nor will your metabolism slow or will you go into “starve mode”
Starve mode is not a real thing, if it was no one in third world countries would starve to death.
Most of the people who think they go into “starve mode” unfortunately have to diet on very low calories for a number of reasons.
These people may also have some inconsistencies in their food intake that make a big difference because of how low they need to go with calories to lose fat.
/ End Sidebar/
Skipping breakfast is an easy way to reduce your calorie intake without giving it any active thought.
To help suppress appetite and cravings during your fast have black coffee with a splash of cream or any regular calorie free caffeinated drink.
Two other approaches that I’ve found very useful were 24 hour fasts and the Leangains 16/8 protocol.
This style of fasting was popularized and brought to the mainstream by Martin Berkhan. It’s one of the most popular, and successful fasting protocols in the health and fitness industry.
With Leangains you fast for 16 hours each day, and then consume all your food in an 8 hour window.
With this style of fasting you would stop eating after dinner around 7-8pm. When you wake up in the following morning, instead of eating breakfast, you would have coffee, tea or water and wait until lunch time at 11am-12pm to have your first meal. You’d then cut off your eating at 7-8pm that night again.
I find the Leangains 16/8 method of fasting has a natural flow to it that’s done easily, and isn’t disruptive to everyday life. In the past this was the method of fasting that I used most frequently.
Eat Stop Eat (24 Hour Fast):
This protocol of fasting was popularized by Brad Pilon. His approach is very simple; you do 1-2 , 24 hour fasts per week and eat normally the other five to six days of the week.
You eat normally on non fasting days, and during fasting days you go a full twenty four hours without any calories just drinking water, coffee, tea or any other calorie free beverage.
Usually when I do a 24 hour fast I’ll have a little cream in my coffee, because I’m a rebel like that..
The way that the Eat Stop Eat fast is structured it still allows you to eat every day, even though you’re fasting for a 24 hour period.
For example if you wanted to fast on Wednesday, you could eat a late lunch/early dinner around 4PM Wednesday, then not eat again until 4PM on Thursday still be eating each day.
While this may sound extreme once you have a few 24 hour fasts under your belt you realize that hunger comes and goes, but it’s not as bad as you make it up to be in your mind.
An interesting by product of doing a 24 hour fast is you realize how much we eat out of habit, and not true physical hunger.
As I write this newsletter I’m actually doing a 24 hour fast. When I’m dieting (which I currently am) fasting on a Monday starts off the week with a good sized calorie deficit and I can eat more throughout the rest of the week while being in a deficit.
I wrote a Free Ebook on Fasting For Fat Loss that you can grab HERE.
2. Eat Less Frequent Meals & Reduce Snacking
If you control for calories your meal frequency has zero impact on your metabolism or fat loss.
One important thing to keep in mind is that if you graze all day long your chances of overeating greatly increase.
When you graze throughout the day you’ll engage in a lot of mindless eating that will likely be forgotten.
Whereas if you wait until you’re actually physically hungry to sit down and eat a meal you’ll be more present, and aware of hunger signals.
By reducing the number of meals you consume, or dropping the extra snacks you can very easily reduce the amount of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis.
Over time you can ease your way into the first tip and start to incorporate fasting by skipping breakfast, and in turn reducing your meal frequency throughout the day.
3. Increase Protein & Eat It First At Meals
It’s easy to neglect protein at meals when you’re busy focusing eating tasty carbs and fats.
An easy way to fix this is to fill up your plate with higher protein foods, followed by high fiber vegetables and denser carbs and lastly fats and oils.
By focusing on protein and high fiber veggies at meals you’re going to feel fuller for longer and fat more satiated.
This is because protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients and high fiber vegetables take up more room in your stomach and slow stomach emptying which all works to make you feel much fuller for longer.
4. Stop Drinking Calories
Things like soda, store bought green smoothies, coffee with a ton of cream and sugar and alcohol are are significant sources of calories that most people gloss over and forget about because they don’t fill you up.
While liquid calories don’t fill you up, they add up...pretty significantly.
When you add up those liquid calories contain you can see that merely reducing these would usually create a large enough calorie deficit for most people to lose body fat.
5. Use Smaller Plates and Bowls
Another important, but highly overlooked area to address when it comes to reducing your calories without counting them is the size of the plates, bowls, glasses and utensils you use.
An identical portion of food on a larger or smaller plate is going to look differently to your brain, and the size of that plate influences whether you determine that as an adequate amount of food or not.
You unconsciously examine how much room the food takes up on the plate to gauge the portion size and unfortunately most people eat all of what’s in front of them without stopping so if you serve a larger portion you’ll eat a larger portion.
When you eat off larger plates and bowls you’ll unconsciously normalize larger portions of food and end up eating more.
For bowls, plates, glasses and utensils think smaller so normal portions appear larger, and make your brain perceive it as an adequate amount of food.