Unlike some people (meaning keto zealots), I don’t share the same disdain for the keto diet. We know it can leave you overdosing on too many calories and it’s the dumbass diet of extreme unsustainability in general (for most people).
The thing is, you don’t need a new diet to lose weight. You already have one—what you eat every day:
However, if your body isn’t what you want it to be, you need to understand your daily diet a little better and make appropriate adjustments.
The following 8 nutritional adjustments will help you to reduce caloric intake (without feeling like you’ve sold yourself to weight loss slavery) because for any diet to work, it has to be based on the principle of a caloric deficit.
1. Cut Most Restaurant Meals & REPLACE With Home-cooked Meals
Restaurant meals are more dangerous than eating at McDonald’s. Unlike restaurants where you could eat until you get an invitation to a vomiting party, you can’t handle too many fast-food meals:
Also, restaurant meals can look healthy and unprocessed but the way food is prepared makes caloric control almost impossible:
As Tom Venuto, health and fitness writer noted,
One slice of cheesecake for dessert can set you back 700 calories. Cheese nachos or fried mozzarella sticks have about 800 calories. The worst nachos clocks in at 2,740 calories. A typical steak house prime rib or porterhouse could easily fall in the 1,200-to 1,500-calorie range.
That’s without appetizers, fries, dessert, and drinks that usually comes with that.
Make restaurant meals rare and for special occasions. The average folk eats out 4.2 times per week. The average folk is also overweight. If you don’t want to be an average folk, don’t do what an average folk does.
2. Cut Sugared Soda & REPLACE With Diet Soda
I know, you are itching to yell out:
“I’ll get cancer because diet coke contains aspartame!”
GOOD NEWS! There is no reliable meta-analysis linking aspartame to cancer.
“But what about the fact that it tricks my brain into releasing insulin?”
GOOD NEWS 2.0. Diet coke contains no calories and no sugar thus, there is no insulin response. Now stop interrupting me and questioning something that has been studied to hell and back:
Listen, I would rather have you chugging a gallon of water every day than drinking coke. Diet or not. But if you need something sweet-tasting as a substitute to get you off regular soda, diet coke is an option.
Lasting weight loss success doesn’t come from making big and bodacious changes. It comes from making small changes that keep deprivation to a minimum.
Use diet soda to get yourself off sugared soda. Eventually, minimize diet soda too. Water is always your best choice.
3. Cut Coffee Drinks & REPLACE With Just Coffee (Milk In It is Fine)
Don’t need to tell me—those frappa-zappa-macchiatos are tasty AF. Here is the deal: There is nothing wrong with having a latte or macchiato. But if the scale doesn’t budge, reduction of hyper-palatable coffee drinks is an easy opportunity to decrease caloric intake.
Oh! And if you think “Screw you, Egis! It’s just one coffee. Don’t take it away from me or I’ll kidney-punch you,” sorry to burst your bubble, buddy, but persistently having coffee drinks add up:
Just like with soda drinks, you don’t want to eliminate ALL coffee drinks because you crave what you are not allowed to have.
Choose an alternative coffee drink that contains fewer calories. You will get your fill of daily coffee, boost dietary adherence, and get more progress.
4. Cut Alcohol Intake By 50 Percent & REPLACE With Water
Unfortunately, six-pack abs and six-packs of beer contradict each other. And much of your surprise, alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. Almost as many as fat contains (9 calories).
Seemingly insignificant but REGULAR consumption of alcohol may be the reason why you keep telling yourself “It must be my slow metabolism…”
As always, I’m not asking you to eliminate alcohol from your diet entirely. You can have alcohol if you like but appreciate its caloric cost too. Cutting alcohol consumption in half or choosing lower-calorie alternatives will save you heaps of calories and transform a lack of progress into long term progress:
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5. Cut Mindless Eating & REPLACE With Mindful Eating
I’ve written near a damn essay on mindless eating until my brain turned into protoplasm but I feel like I need to repeat myself—we consume too many calories not because of hunger but because of family and friends, packages and plates, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.
As I said in how to overcome emotional eating article, when you eat, you should do nothing but exclusively eat. This means no TV, computer, phone or newspaper while eating. Everything goes down the hatch without distractions:
You see, watching TV, reading the magazine, surfing the internet, etc. while eating can become linked to eating. Activities can become anchored to eating. It’s known as the “Pavlov’s dog effect.1”
If eating gets linked with, say, lounging on the couch and killing brain cells with TV, it’ll become the trigger of eating every time you watch TV even though you aren’t even hungry.
Once you are done reading this, check out 5 strategies to stop mindless eating here.
6. Cut Eating Before Bed & REPLACE With… Nothing
If there is one time in the day when it’s okay to feel hungry, it’s before bed. I totally stole this tip from James Fell, motivation, health, and fitness writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, and started using it with my clients.
According to him, going to bed a little hungry is one of the most effective weight loss strategies as the pain of hunger is short-term because appetite largely resets overnight.
Eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then stop. Most people would scarf down another snack before bed. You are not going to do that.
You are going to skip it and wake up hungry the next morning which will make you want to eat breakfast. And that’s a good thing.
7. Cut Nut/Seeds & REPLACE With Fruits
Most of us know fruits are good for us, but we file this information under “Things We Know and Choose to Ignore.” Instead, we wolf down nuts and/or seeds. While there is nothing wrong with nuts per se, they are teeny tiny (meaning massive) bombs of calories.
The biggest beef I have with nuts/seeds for a dieting person is that they boost your caloric intake while providing virtually no food volume, fiber, and water content—things that we know promote satiety and reduce hunger:
A serving of almonds (30g) provides 164 calories, 3g of fiber, and 1.3g of water while a serving of apples (149g) provides 77 calories, 3.6g of fiber, and 217g of water.
You can bitch and moan about how nuts (the edible ones, not the other ones) are “superfood” but the fact still remains—they are calorie-dense and they do very little in terms of boosting satiety.
8. Cut Fatty Meats and REPLACE With Leaner Meats
As I mentioned before, a gram of fat contains 9 calories so meat swaps may provide an opportunity to reduce caloric intake.
For example, if you ate meat 5 times per week but swapped the top row for the bottom row, you would cut your caloric intake by 810 calories with no additional effort. No extra hassle of overwhelming and severe calorie restriction required:
The other day I told my client:
Extreme transformations have been praised in The Biggest Loser and Instagram to such a degree that anything but an extreme weight loss today is mocked at. Sure, dramatic nutrition approaches often induce the most dramatic results. But they never last. The solution is a gentle and moderate approach to nutrition.
The above tips won’t help you shed 3 pounds a week and get a shredded midsection in a month.
They will help you lose 1 pound a week but you won’t feel like dieting via white-knuckle starvation and you will build habits that help maintain body weight after the diet is over.
And if you don’t want to eat a certain way and hate your life doing it, I dunno, consider hiring me to coach you, maybe?