It is not necessary to count calories in order to lose fat. In fact, this can be counter-productive and it is certainly time-consuming.
All you need to do is employ a few simple tactics to bring your diet under control and improve its quality.
If you follow these guidelines you’ll be eating fewer calories but feeling full and energised throughout the day and keeping your cravings under control.
1. Eat protein such as meat, fish or eggs with every meal, particularly breakfast.
Include some good fats from nuts, seeds, olives or avocadoes and plenty of vegetables.
Drink water, tea or coffee (without milk).
Avoid sugar and keep starchy carbohydrate to a minimum.
This diet will keep you feeling full and with a regular supply of energy.
2. Eat more foods that are high in fibre and water such as vegetables.
These foods are very filling, as well as being nutritious and good for your digestive system.
Load up your plate with vegetables and eat a good portion of them first. This will start to assuage your appetite, so that by the time you get onto the rest of your meal, you won’t feel as hungry. There’s maybe a 10 minute time lag between starting to eat, and not feeling hungry any more.
3. Divide your daily food into around 5-6 small meals.
This will keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day.
It is helpful to think about the calorie density of food. If you are having a proper sit-down meal, you can eat more food in terms of volume (such as lots of vegetables). If you need a quick snack, you can have something more calorie dense, such as a handful of nuts and a boiled egg, which have a similar number of calories but are quicker to eat.
Obviously you want to avoid eating large quantities of calorie dense foods, such as big handfuls of nuts!
4. Have more calories around training (before and after), and fewer calories at other times.
This will encourage your body to use food for energy rather than fat storage.
Your post workout meal can be your biggest meal and should be eaten no later than two hours after training.
5. Eat your carbs in your post training meal and avoid them at breakfast time (unless breakfast is your post training meal).
This ensures that when you eat carbs, they are more likely to be used as fuel rather than stored as fat.
Breakfast should consist of protein and good fats, such as chicken and a handful of nuts.
6. Reduce portion sizes. Sometimes we get into the habit of eating more because that’s the amount that comes in the packet. Or perhaps we are used to eating a good quality meal only two or three times a day and therefore are used to larger portions.
When you are eating 5-6 small meals a day of filling foods, portions can be smaller.
Experiment with reducing portions of certain foods a little, to see if you can eat less and still feel satisfied. Try this with more calorically-dense foods first, such as dairy and starchy carbohydrate. If you normally have 100g of yoghurt, try 70g instead.
You may find that you feel just as good on slightly less food.However, if you start feeling very hungry, you may have gone too far.
This isn’t about starving yourself, it’s just about finding exactly the right amount of food that satisfies your hunger and keeps you going.
7. Eat the same meals over and over again.
Once you find a good combination that meets your dietary needs and is filling and tasty, keep things simple by repeating it.
This may sound boring, but it makes shopping and food preparation much simpler and in the end, this is key to being able to stick to an eating plan.
8. Drink plenty of water.
Water is vital to keep our bodies functioning well.
We can also crave certain foods when actually we are thirsty and a drink of water would assuage the craving.
Aim for 3 litres per day.
9. Eat more cruciferous vegetables. The cruciferous vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, watercress, cabbage, kale, have been shown to help eliminate estrogens, which contribute to fat deposits on the hips, bum and thighs and ‘man boobs’.
Additionally they are very filling and highly nutritious, so should make up the vast bulk of your vegetable intake.
A high fibre diet will improve gut and liver function, which are vital if you are to eliminate estrogens. Vegetables are excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre; you don’t need cereals that sell themselves on their fibre content!
10. When eating out, ask for extra veg and hold the sauce/have on the side.
It’s possible to eat out healthily and, in my experience, restaurants are happy to provide alternatives such as extra vegetables.
Good restaurant meals include meat/fish and extra vegetables with any sauce on the side.
A light soup as a starter is also good as it will fill you up. Ask for olives or crudities as a snack whilst waiting for food.
The outcome of all of the above tactics is that you will be eating fewer calories, especially sugars/starches but feeling satisfied and able to get on with your day.
Your metabolism will stay steady and your body will be more inclined to drop body fat rather than conserve it.
Combine this diet with lifting weights three times a week and a couple of high intensity interval training sessions and you have the formula for a lean, healthy shape.