3 habits that will improve your dietary adherence
Yes yes we know by now, calorie deficits equal fat loss over time. The question is, if fat loss is so simple objectively, why do so many people struggle with it? It almost all comes down to adherence from there.
Our ability to adhere to a diet is going to be the linchpin that holds every single piece of the puzzle together. Putting it simply, if you can’t adhere, what you are doing is not appropriate & until you change something you will not reach your goals.
I thought I’d provide 3 useful things that will help you manage the biological drives that promote over-eating, craving, lethargy, inactivity & more & that go against our pursuit to attain a desirable & healthy body compositions.
1. Stop making your food so god damn tasty
The rise in popularity of tracking calorie & macronutrient intake has been something that has been of a net positive for sure when it comes to fat loss, especially within the fitness realm in which a lot of individuals already have a history of decent eating habits. The issue is, that now we know that negative energy balance drives fat loss, we have forgotten the value of food composition & how it can aid us in our dietary pursuits, & seemingly it has become this pursuit to fit as much tasty food in our diet as possible.
Whilst this can work for some, as energy balance objectively dictates which way our weight shifts, it rarely works for most. The palatability of foods is highly correlated with food related satiety. Satiety is the satisfaction we feel at & after a meal, in terms of how effectively it reduces our want to eat further, & usually more than we need. Highly palatable foods are some of the lowest rated foods when it comes to satiety (refer to the satiety index online for more). The issue is, that calorie for calorie, more palatable foods will drive us to eat more food, & reduce the feeling of fullness we want to experience after eating.
When it comes to fat loss, satiety is something that we must pursue to maximise if it comes to maintaining a negative energy balance whilst still maintaining a balanced & healthy lifestyle. By reducing the palatability of our diet somewhat, we can further increase the satiety it provides us, making maintaining this calorie deficit much easier to do on a regular basis, therefore allowing us to effectively reach our goals.
I don’t mean that our food has to be completely tasteless, what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to eat some pretty plain food every now & again. You don’t have to marinate all of your protein sources. You don’t have to put 25 Walden’s farm toppings on your porridge oats & you definitely don’t need to (& probably shouldn’t) spend 60 minutes preparing your dinner, the less time spent thinking about food, the better generally.
For those individuals that feel like they can’t go without their favourite treat or meal, don’t fret, your palate adapts to what you eat. You won’t crave it forever, & one of the best ways to prevent a craving is to remove that food from your diet for a period of time, & then limit exposure to it. It may be tough initially but it doesn’t last. Those that have drank diet drinks for a decent period of time will agree, going back to full sugar beverages is not as satisfying as it once was, they all of a sudden taste way too sweet & our cravings for them are near none existent.
2. Minimise variety in food choices
Leapfrogging on from the discussion above on your palate & how it adapts, keeping food variety lower, or at least having some staple foods/meals in your diet can effectively reduce cravings & improve satiety.
Satiety seems to be sensory specific, in that different aspects of food (salty, sweet, starch etc.) all have their own satiety pitcher that needs to be filled before satiety is reached. Like filling up a drinking glass, imagine you have 1 litre of water & 2 x 500ml glasses. The water available can be split between the 2 glasses & fill them both. Now imagine you must split 1 litre of water to split between 5 x 500ml glasses, they will all be less than half full, & as the analogy goes, none of them will reach a level at which they are satisfied so we have to continue to fill them (eat) to satisfy them.
The more different food flavours/textures we have at a meal, the less satiated we will be for the same amount of calories compared to one with fewer flavours/textures. This seems to work on a meal to meal basis, & on a day to day basis. So, if we stick to similar foods on a day to day basis, & make these meals more simple, we can effectively reduce cravings & increase satiety.
Again, this doesn’t mean that we must eat the same things every day, but having some staple meals that you enjoy & eat on a daily basis (that are only moderately palatable) can help us adhere to a diet that has a lower calorie amount than our maintenance level. For me, I eat a decent amount of Greek yoghurt, raspberries, kiwi & grains like quinoa.
An example implementation could be keeping your breakfast (if you eat it) & lunch meal the same each day & just include some variety at your dinner meal, so you can continue to eat in a family oriented way or eat with friends, whilst simultaneously not overwhelming your palate with so many different sensations that it never ends up being satisfied by any of them.
3. Eat more fibre
Some of you are probably thinking “not this again”, & some of you are thinking “I have never been recommended this before”. Adequate dietary fibre is a key corner stone of a healthy diet, end of. Adequate dietary fibre intake supports management of lots of markers of healthy from insulin sensitivity to digestion. Whilst the research is very tentative, the microbiota (variety of bacteria in the gut) seem to feed on some of the indigestible fibres we get in our diet, allowing them to thrive, multiply & seemingly have a positive effect on lots of health outcomes. These microbiota seem to play a bigger role than has been considered before in autoimmune disease, obesity & more, so stay tuned for more research in the coming years.
Aside of this, fibre dense sources of carbohydrates are substantially more filling when compared to other carbohydrate sources. What this does is simply allow us to maintain a lower calorie diet much easier, & increase satiety at meals (again). Fibre does this in a few different ways. Firstly, some fibres when they enter the gut form a viscous material, that significantly slows down the rate of which we digest our food, increasing transit time in the gut & allowing us to stay fuller for longer with equated calorie intake.
Secondly, fibrous foods tend to be much higher in volume, which is of benefit as one of the main ways your stomach signals the brain to change motivation to eat is through mechanical stretch of the stomach walls. The stomach is a volume counter, & the more volume of stuff you have in the stomach (food, liquid etc.), the more stretch it undergoes, the more the stomach signals to the brain that we are adequately fed, & boom, less calories needed to get the same satiety outcome.
Thirdly, fibre dense foods can more effectively signal hormones that directly interact with our brain & send messages to motivate us to continue to eat more or stop eating.
(CCK, NPYY etc.). By themselves, fibrous foods signal the hunger regions in our brain to turn down the heat & allow us to crave less & be less hungry.
How much fibre though? It’s going to be a personal case, but I do like a high fibre intake, for myself & clients, around 40 - 50g for males & 30 – 40g for women. Be wary of increasing this quickly, as you will be feeling the results, so I advise to taper up over time to this amount. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you have any clinical conditions that may be affected by fibre intake first.
We hope this was informative & will benefit you in your pursuits of fat loss & improved body composition. We would love to hear your feedback & if you are interested in working with us 1-1 or more details on the topics in this article, please send us an email at email@example.com & we will endeavour to get back to you asap.