Do you want to eat as much as you want and still get in shape?
Constantly weighing and measuring everything is very effective and I won't try to argue it's not. I however don't believe it is sustainable for everyone over the long term.
Human beings, like everything in nature work in cycles. Sometimes you will be hungrier and sometimes you are less hungry. Sometimes you want a big pile of greasy roast meat and sometimes you can't stand the site of it. To believe you require an exact number of calories and exact balances of protein, fat and carbohydrate every day with no variance is simplistic.
What you need is a plan with flexibility, variety and that takes these changes into account.
This title probably seems too good to be true. If you have read much of my stuff about the fitness industry you will know that this means it is.
However if you let me stretch the word 'want' out nice and thin then I can still make this article live up to the title. Anyway have started now so you might as well read a little more.
Now before anyone points out the most obviously false part of my statement I would like the records to show I never stated that you could eat as much as you like of whatever you wanted.
Now I know that so far this article has not been that helpful to anyone sitting at home trying to lose weight. I promise after one more wild tangent I will get to the good stuff.
The reason we as a culture are having so many issues with weight, health and food is that a lot of modern processed food is trailered to mess with our ability to know when enough is enough. Once we pop we just can't stop...
As an omnivorous species we NEEDED a mechanism to know how much of what things to eat to be healthy and to prevent us from eating only our most favoured or most convenient foods until we got sick.
When these mechanisms are broken by the artificial flavors of foods that are sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy all at the same time we will eat too much and will suffer the doughy consequences. This is often called hyper palatable food.
For this and a thousand other good reasons processed foods are out of this discussion. For this to work you need to eat food . Not treats, snacks, micro meals for one, meal deals, happy meals other imitations.
Remember always read the label... If it has a label don't eat it. With that definition of food clarified the helpful bit can begin.
The mechanism our species developed in order to prevent people living near a certain food source relying on it entirely and becoming sick is known as 'sensory specific satiety' and there is plenty of research into its effects and if it can be used to help with the obesity epidemic.
The research shows that the frequency and quantity of consumption of a single type of food will lower how appealing it seems to you. Another theory is that this mechanism will work to balance your calorie and macros intake without the use of spreadsheets, scales and Tupperware.
To brutally reduce the theory down and to demonstrate how I was thinking about this over Christmas I'll use the following example. If you were to eat nothing but roast turkey and boiled sprouts you will stop wanting it as you quickly feel 'full' and would stop eating. Then when the little sausages wrapped in bacon make their appearance and someone passes the gravy you will probably be ready to go again. Once you are good and stuffed again you get a scoop of buttery mashed potato you might manage a bit more until feeling totally defeated.
Until someone starts cutting the cake.
This sensory specific satiety mechanism can work for you or against you.
It will work against you when you eat either a single food choice with very mixed types of ingredient and flavour such as, for example, a meat feast pizza or when the total selection of foods is large such as an all you can eat buffet.
Lets say all your body really NEEDS is another 100g of protein before this mechanism might kick in and tell you to put the box away and to stop eating.
Unfortunatly for your bathroom scales in order to get enough pepperoni, chilli beef and spicy sausage in order to hit that protein requirement you will have to choke down several thousand calories of high G.I carbohydrates from the base as well as a few thousand more from the cheese and that weird grease takeout pizza seems to produce.
For the mechanism to work for you you will need to eat foods in the reverse order your body craves them and to avoid combinations that encourage overeating. Any astute foodie historians might notice a few similarities with the old Italian and other old fashioned European style meals.
Start with an raw salad type foods you may want. If weight loss is your main goal then starting with a salad would be a highly recommended idea as it will limit your consumption of more calorie dense foods later.
After this move onto protein and vegitable dishes. Protein is an important nutrient and a high vegitable intake should be an absolute baseline requirement for any healthy diet so these should be taken care of first. As with the comments on salad above if your goal is weight loss then increasing your intake of vegitables by providing multiple different dishes prepared in different ways (this time to intensionally trick this mechanism) will further limit your consumption of more calorie dense 'fuel' foods.
After you have eaten as much of your protein source and vegitables as appealed to you it is time to move on to your 'fuel' foods, fat and carbohydrate.
I personally would not recommend having an appreciable quantity of both in the same meal for various reasons especially for weight loss but that is not really anything to do with sensory specific satiety and beyond the scope of this article.
Again it is best to stick to one source of fuel for example avocado for fat or sweet potato for carbohydrate. When you are planning these dishes it is always okay to combine them with some more protein and veggies.
The last wrinkle with this mechanism is that your body detects how much carbohydrate you have eaten a little further down your digestive system that with other foods. This means it will take about 20 minutes after you have eaten to 'decide' if you had enough carbohydrate and why it is always easiest to binge eat carbs.
For this reason if you want carbohydrate in your meal then restrict your serving size and then wait a little while. If you still want more then go ahead.
It is important to pay attention to how you combine foods for the different parts of your meal to get the full effect of this.
To make it simple vegitables combine with everything and anything as does lean protein. The 'salad' course the protein and veggie course as well as the fat and carbohydrate courses can all contain protein and vegetables.
High fat foods should be very limited in the salad course as well as the protein and veg course and more or less banned from a carbohydrate course. The same is true for high carbohydrate foods only they should be more or less banned from the high fat course.
These guidelines are not absolute and if your goal was to gain weight then the opposite might sometimes be true. Also this plan is designed to be sustainable and enjoyable so don't sweat about adding a little butter to a baked potato or a few croutons to a high fat cheesy salad. Just keep to the spirit and avoid the meat feast pizza.
Once this plan feels natural you will be able to eat as much as you like of whatever good quality whole foods as you like. Maybe not all at the same time on the same day but nothing is totally restricted.
To take this plan further and to support more focused weight loss goals you could schedule yourself a certain number of days in the week which you focused on fat, carbs just protein. More fat and protein only days would usually lead to fat loss while more carbohydrate and mixed days would usually lead to weight gain.
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If you have any questions contact me through Richard@forceofnaturept.com
Get strong, move well and often and eat naturally.