Dieting can be such a tough and therefore unsustainable path to weight loss, yet it is usually the first step most of us take.
Let’s face it, most diets fail in the long-term and anyone who has dieted in the past can understand why.
To put it simply, it sucks. You’re told that you can’t have the foods that you want. And what you can have has to be in smaller portions.
Well, what if I told you that you didn’t have to follow such a rigid, restrictive diet plan in order to lose weight?
That while you’ll need to make better food choices and relatively eat less, you do NOT need to starve nor deprive yourself.
If that sounds good to you, then you’re in the right place.
In this article we’re going to go over 4 key strategies that will make your weight loss diet more effective without making it seem like such hard work.
These 4 key strategies will help you control your hunger and prevent overeating with the hope of making your diet more effective and more sustainable at the same time.
4 Strategies to Control Hunger & Prevent Overeating
1. Drink 12-16 oz of water 15-20 minutes prior to your meal
Our stomachs cannot sense or measure the amount of calories we consume. However, it can detect volume (by sending signals to our brain as our stomach stretches).
Knowing this mechanism, we can use our bodies physiology to aid in our weight loss efforts. How? By preloading that bad boy with water!
According to a study done by Dennis EA, et al. 2010, “Weight loss was ~2 kg greater in the water group (those consuming 500 ml of water prior to their meals) than in the non water group”. “….And the water group showed a 44% greater decline in weight over the 12 weeks than the non water group”.
And from a systematic review done by Daniels MC, et al. Nutr Rev. 2010, “These findings from clinical trials, along with those from epidemiologic and intervention studies, suggest water has a potentially important role to play in reducing energy intake, and consequently in obesity prevention. A need for randomized-controlled trials to confirm this role exists”.
Though there are limitations to both these studies and further study on the subject needs to be done, taking in water pre-meal could very well help prevent overeating.
Sufficient hydration is beneficial to our health in a number of ways. So, drinking more water would be beneficial even outside this proposed benefit.
Strategy #1: Aim to drink 12-16 oz of water 20-30 minutes prior to your meals as well as sipping on water throughout.
2. Eat more low calorie dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables
Low calorie dense foods are those which are low in calories relative to their volume.
Think fruits and vegetables vs chips, cookies, or candy. Most can eat large amounts of chips or candy, no problem. Try eating the equivalent amount of calories in fruit. That belly is going to be pretty full!
Fruits and vegetables contain a high amount of water and therefore are much more filling relative to many other foods. They also contain fiber which can aid in satiety (the feeling of fullness). We will talk more about fiber later.
Aim to eat a serving of your favorite fruit or vegetable with each meal, preferably eating it/them first. I like to eat an apple or pear prior to or while preparing my meals. I find that a piece of fruit with a bottle of water prior really helps me achieve fullness more quickly. This makes it much less likely for me to go for seconds or grab a snack after my meals.
Another great strategy is to eat a serving of fruit or vegetables before snacking on high calorie dense foods (e.g, chips, candy, etc). Aim to eat a serving of baby carrots, several sticks of celery, or an apple with a glass of water prior to snacking. Setting portions is also another helpful strategy (e.g, making a small bowl or bag rather than eating straight out of the bag and hoping you stop).
3. Eat more fiber rich foods
Soluble (dissolves in water) fiber can create an extended feeling of fullness by delaying the emptying of the stomach, as well as slowing down the movement of food through the intestines (effectively slowing down digestion as a whole).
Some foods you can add into your diet that contain soluble fiber include; oats, beans, apples, berries, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and soybeans.
Insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved in water (as soluble fiber can) however, it can absorb water and in doing so create a feeling of fullness.
Insoluble fiber sources: In the skins of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and bran
Adding more whole grains, fruits and vegetables (among the other foods listed above) to your daily diet can help increase your daily fiber intake and therefore (hopefully) help you consume less food at each meal.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the recommended amount of dietary fiber is about 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women each day (though the exact amounts will vary depending on factors such as age and energy needs) (1)
4. Eat more protein rich foods
Like fiber, protein is known for its high satiety factor (feeling of fullness).
Generally, protein increases satiety to a greater extent than fat or carbs (excluding fiber) and because of this, eating a sufficient amount of protein at each meal may help you to eat less over the course of the day.
As with all weight loss strategies, this one by itself will not be of much help. However, added along side the other 3 strategies, proper protein intake may be found to aid in an increased feeling of fullness and/or help prevent overeating at meals.
Some foods to add into your diet to increase your protein intake are; eggs, lean meats, fish and/or seafood, Greek yogurt and other low-fat dairy products, nuts, beans and peanut butter.
It is hard to dispute the fact that overeating is one of the key factors leading to weight gain over the past 50 or so years.
This decrease in energy expenditure and increase in energy intake has played a huge role in the continually growing problem of overweight and obesity.
Controlling how much food we take in at each meal, by eating to achieve fullness more quickly can play a huge part in our efforts to lose weight and keep it off.
I hope these 4 tips are found to be helpful and can aid you in achieving your weight loss goals more effectively and successfully.
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Thanks for reading!