7 Strategies To Stick To Your Weight Loss Diet
Dieting sucks and is hard to stick to for long.
It’s hard to stick to for the long term because you sometimes feel hungry or have cravings, but there are some tricks you can use to stick it out.
First, allow me to explain the two most important aspects of building your weight loss diet. Then, I’ll explain how to actually put that into practice. Patience, grasshopper.
The number one building block of a weight loss diet is creating a caloric deficit, meaning that you must eat less food than your body requires for maintenance or fat storage. To figure out that number, you can do any number of complicated calculations.
To simplify the process, though, take your current body weight and multiply it by ten and by twelve. That’s the range you should stick to for weight loss. For example, a 150-pound person should eat between 1500-1800 calories each day to lose weight.
The second most important building block of a weight loss diet are your macros (read more about macronutrients in my epic post on nutrition HERE). People often get hung up on how much protein, carbs, and fat they should eat when dieting, but this is the second most important aspect of weight loss; if you don’t nail the calorie target first, it doesn’t matter what your macro situation looks like.
So dial in your calorie goal first, then worry about macros. I’ll wait… okay, now that’s sorted, a good starting place for macronutrients is to eat 30-40% of your calories from protein and carbohydrates, while the remaining 20% can come from fats. You can adjust accordingly if you know that you don’t do well with carbs (ie, you gain weight just looking at pasta) or if you’re highly active (ie, marathon runners need more carbohydrates).
You can use a free meal logging app like “Lose It” or “My Fitness Pal” to make sure you hit your calorie and macro goals each day.
With all of that background info out of the way, how do you stick to the plan that you set for yourself?
Here are seven strategies that are highly effective for sticking to your diet plan:
- Planning is paramount. Figure out how many calories you’re allotted for the day and use your meal logging app to put together meals for the week. Make a grocery list, shop, and prepare your food ahead of time. Have a back up plan for emergency donut-in-the-break-room situations (you could go for a walk or talk to a coworker at their desk instead of in the break room). As the saying goes, “fail to prepare is preparing to fail.” Don’t be that guy.
- If you typically snack throughout the day, either keep healthy snacks on hand and account for them in your daily eating plan, or don’t keep any snacks in your kitchen. Having to leave the house is a major deterrent when a craving for ice cream hits.
- Brush your teeth or chew gum after every meal. Having minty fresh breath usually quells my urge to continue putting food in my mouth.
- I shamelessly stole this tip from Jason Helmes of Anyman Fitness: he and his wife “shut down” the kitchen after dinner. Clean up the counters, wash all the dishes, and turn off the kitchen lights after you eat your meal. Mentally, this helps you realize that it’s time to stop eating for the day.
- Listen to your body. You don’t have to eat everything on your plate just because it’s on your plate. Stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed. “But there are starving kids in India or Africa or wherever!” Are you going to fly your leftovers to India so they don’t go hungry? Probably not. If you care that much about world hunger, donate to a charity organization. Don’t stuff yourself to satisfy some moral obligation.
- Drink more water. Most people are walking around moderately dehydrated, and you can mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger. Drink a tall glass of water, wait ten minutes, and see if you’re still hungry. If so, go ahead and eat something healthy.
- Distract yourself. We often eat out of boredom. Nothing on television… how about a bag of chips? Waiting for the plane to board… let’s grab some candy at the snack stand. Or we eat because we’re procrastinating from doing work that we’re not looking forward to (I’m definitely guilty of this). You can distract yourself by going for a walk, texting a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, playing with the kids/cat/dog, or any number of things that don’t involve food.
Look, being in a caloric deficit sucks. Sometimes it means you feel hungry. But trust me, you won’t starve by waiting an extra hour or two before eating your next meal.
Use some of these tips to make dealing with the hunger a little easier. And please, share this article with friends and family who may need some tricks to stick with their healthy eating plans.
What are some of the things you do to stick to your weight loss diet?
What things trip you up when you’re dieting?
Drop me a line. I would love to learn what does/doesn’t work for you so I can help your be successful with your health goals! Let’s chat: firstname.lastname@example.org