If you’ve ever tried losing weight you’ll likely have battled managing to maintain that calorie deficit for a period long enough to see sustainable results. Here are a few things that have worked for me and my clients.
- Set a small calorie deficit. If you want to lose fat mass at a sustainable rate, you don’t need a HUGE calorie deficit, and in many cases too big a deficit can work against you pretty ferociously. Not only will you risk burning away precious muscle mass, your adrenals can go into override stimulating a stress response and cortisol which can lead to fat deposits around the midsection.
- Eat more protein. There is huge research into this and the reasons why we want to increase protein, but when it comes to fat loss the biggest impact protein has is helping stimulate a neuropeptide Y (NPY) to help inhibit appetite. Yes there are a huge number of benefits including building lean muscle mass and helping with tissue repair, but when it comes to calorie deficit the effect it has on appetite is key - get in those protein shakes!
- Time your meals. The advice I give and what has worked for my clients over the last 8 years has been consistently sticking to 5-6 small meals per day. Maximising calorie burn through the thermic effect of metabolising food is one thing, but the big winner here is the effect if has on the cheeky hormone Ghrelin. Going a long time without food unleashes this guy who gets us craving those high fat, high sugar foods!
- Drink (more) water. Drinking enough water through the day can be another way to help initiate the stretch-reflex an expanded stomach will have back on the brain to keep the appetite at bay. Plus it's good for you and helps with a healthy digestive process. Be careful drinking too much around meal time though as this can disrupt digestive enzymes and leave us feeling a little bloated.
- Exercise to a calorie deficit. If you're going to be putting your body through the stress of taking away food, you cannot expect it to perform at its best. At least initially. Yes resistance training and hard cardio are still important, but make room for bigger volumes of low to moderate exercise where the body has the ability to utilize fats. You can then slowly ramp up the exercise intensities as your body becomes more fat adaptive. But more on that later.