Have you ever had that one taste of something forbidden and went on a Blizzard binge that made you sick? If yes, then keep reading because this article will show you how to stop cravings, overeating and binge eating once and for all
I spend a lot of time browsing fitness-related online message boards (it’s a big part of my job, so I have a good excuse).
And it seems that most people are STILL struggling with cravings and overeating.
If you are one of those people who end up elbow deep in a jar of Nutella, you will love this article.
Like I always do, I will take a bird’s-eye view of the current evidence of how to stop cravings when dieting and present you with 2 solutions.
After reading it, you will never feel out of control with your eating habits.
Let’s do this thang!
Ooo! In the end, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for my FREE 14-Day Fat Loss For Life Course. It’ll equip you with foundational principles of training & eating to lose weight for life! You can also sign up on your right (desktop).
What The Heck Are They Talking About???
Browsing the fitness websites, I caught wind of grey area when it comes to cravings. It seems that even fitness “experts” have no idea how to stop them.
If you zipped through articles on Healthline, Runtastic, DailyBurn, WikiHow, you would see this for yourself.
They talk about what to do about cravings WHEN it hits you. None of them tells you what to do so that cravings wouldn’t even HAPPEN.
They recommend all sorts of snacks to curb cravings, drink more water, exercise, eat more fiber and protein…
And it’s all RUBBISH!
Since it left me flabbergasted, I decided to identify the psychological reasoning behind your cravings and overeating.
Let’s kick things off with the BIGGEST reason why cravings happen.
#1 – You’re Overly-Restrictive With Your Diet
Think back to the last time you tried losing weight…
What did you do first?
I bet you eliminated foods that are considered “bad,” “unhealthy,” or “unclean.” Am I right? (sure I am).
How long did that last for you? Leave a comment about that (seriously!).
The main issue with overly-restricting food is that it leads to food labeling as “good” and “bad”. It attaches ethical value to the food, and thus, increases the likelihood of disordered eating.
In fact, studies show that people who purposefully eliminated various foods because they believed they were “unclean” or “unhealthy” had more incidents of binge eating (source 1, 2).
People tend to place a taboo mystique on foods when they are not on the ‘allowed’ list.
It’s as if people become young children again, and do what it takes to pry open or climb up to the cookie jar of forbidden goodies instead of learning how to moderate their intake.
Having been knee-deep in the fitness industry for more than 10 years now, I know that people who fall for “clean eating” or “healthy eating” end up having a black-and-white view of food.
They believe that they MUST eat “healthy” to lose weight.
Make sure to read my article on how to enjoy “fun” foods and still lose weight.
I bet you have purposely omitted various foods from your diet labelling them “unclean” or “unhealthy”. Once you did that, you put the value of that food and it got higher and higher every week until… until you could no longer resist.
You ended elbow deep in a jar of Nutella. Next thing you know you’re “food drunk” and confessing your love for pizza…
Why did this happen?
Because… Major drumroll with acrobats doing tricks on the backs of elephants and trumpets and red carpet…
There was no flexibility and moderation in your diet and you attached value to food. Any deviation from “healthy” foods was going to bring guilt for consuming “bad” foods.
This brings us to the situation that I’m sure you have been in:
You restricted food choices –> You could no longer resist eating “bad” food –> you took a teeny tiny bite of that “bad” food –> you ended up on a massive binge.
“Bingeing Beast” mode is ON!
But you are not alone, my virtual reader friend…
Many people diet this way. They live in this cycle. They manage to eat “clean” for 5-6 days and then binge on 1-2 days completely screwing up the whole week’s hard work.
They develop black-and-white thinking towards food.
Moderation is out of the question for them. This is why it’s so crucial to use a method of eating that does not attach labels to food.
There are no good or bad foods. Some foods have more calories than others, and some have less. Some have more sugar, and some have less. Some have more fat, and some have less. None of these makes foods inherently good or bad, but rather they must be considered in the context of the entire day’s intake and caloric “budget”
– Layne Norton
The Solution: Become A Flexible Dieter
As I said in creating a sustainable diet plan article, an all-or-nothing, rigid approach to dieting has actually been associated with overeating, increased bodyweight, and eating disorder symptoms, while flexible dieting has shown a stronger association with lower bodyweight and the absence of depression and anxiety.
One study even showed a greater weight loss with the flexible dieting approach (source).
With flexible dieting – no foods are off-limits. My online clients and I love it because we find flexible dieting to be the most sustainable nutrition method because no foods are restricted as long as you are:
- Eating in a Calorie Deficit
- Eating Sufficient Protein
- Eating Mostly (~80%) Whole Foods
Remember the Nutella example?
You don’t have to follow a restrictive diet that makes you want to stab a kitten in the kidney with a salad fork.
Truth is, you could easily enjoy a reasonable portion of Nutella every day without compromising your weight loss goals.
Once you become a flexible dieter, you can go out with friends without looking at them and thinking:
“Your diet fu*king sucks and I hope you drop dead from super ISIS-Ebola.”
Once you become a flexible dieter, your mentality shifts from “I can’t eat a cookie because my diet doesn’t allow me to” to “I won’t eat a cookie today because I don’t want to.”
No more scrawling Google for “how to stop cravings”.
Flexible dieting is realizing that you can lose fat on more than tuna, chicken, broccoli and leafy greens.
Flexible dieting is realizing that you are in control over your body and food. Not the other way around.
Flexible dieting takes the guilt out of food.
Want to learn more about flexible dieting? Check out this article by LegionAthletics.
#2 – You Are Too Aggressive With Cutting Calories
If you went back through the annals of research, you would find exactly zero studies recommending very-low-calorie diets. Somehow, most dieters end up doing just that…
If you are not currently suffering from a rectal-cranial inversion, then you know that a negative energy balance (aka calorie deficit) is the main driver for weight loss. Thus, you might think:
“Heck, it’s all about calories. The less I eat, the more weight I lose!”
As fuc*ing awesome and plausible that sounds, your body doesn’t share the same enthusiasm.
Like I said in how fast you should be losing weight article, it’s true that the higher the calorie deficit you create, the more weight you lose.
UP TO A POINT!
The total amount of FAT loss decreases the higher the deficit gets. Muscle loss becomes more severe but you don’t know that because all you are focused on are these -2 pounds this week…
You see, dieting triggers metabolic adaptation to reduce your metabolic rate once you impose a calorie deficit. The bigger the deficit, the greater the metabolic adaptation and, thus, the lower the metabolic rate.
Imagine you started dieting on 1200 kcals right from the get-go. What happens when (not IF) your metabolism adapts to 1200 kcals, and weight loss stalls? Are you going to diet on 800 kcals?
This doesn’t sound sustainable (nor enjoyable). The fewer calories you eat, the more hunger you will have and, thus, the more cravings to fight against.
To top things off, can you imagine how miserable you would feel going to family dinners or birthdays having 800 kcals to spend?
The Solution: Use Moderate Calorie Deficit And Be Patient
Before you even start dieting face the fact that achieving significant weight loss is a monumentally challenging, mind-numbing, daily grind.
It’s not a stroll through the park where you’re faithful to an “off-limits” food list and looks like a superhero in a month.
If you think you can outsmart your body and metabolism by severely cutting calories and doing other extreme quackery, you are already done…
Stick to a moderate calorie deficit of 15-25%. The leaner you are, the closer to 15% you can be and vice versa, the more weight you carry, the closer to 25% you can wallow around.
I recommend losing no more than 1% (more overweight can lose more) of total bodyweight per week. This will curb cravings, keep metabolism healthy, and preserve more lean muscle mass.
Now here is the simplest way to calculate your calorie intake to lose weight that I got from his holiness, Alan Aragon.
Most existing formulas are designed to estimate current maintenance needs. So, to adjust for weight loss or weight gain, surplus or deficit must be assigned, and it’s usually about 500 kcals up or down.
This formula accounts for training volume, intensity, and target body weight (TBW).
You simply have to have an idea of the total body weight (in pounds) you realistically are aiming at.
Since this formula is geared toward figuring maintenance need of a targeted body weight (TBW), it eliminates the need to add or subtract calories.
Target BW x (8‐10 or 9‐11 + avg. total weekly training hours)
The lower range (8-10) is more suitable for women since they have a higher percentage of body fat than men, and thus a lower proportion of lean mass.
Each range has a certain margin to account for differences in intensity. Low, medium, and high-intensity work can be factored in by using the low, middle, or high end of each range, depending on where your training sessions average during the week.
Here is how I would find my calorie needs for weight loss.
I weigh 205 pounds and my TBW is 185 pounds. I lift weights 4 times per week with high intensity, thus…
185 x (11 + 4 avg. total weekly training hours) = 185 x 15 = 2775 kcal
Simple and accurate!
Both cravings and overeating suck BALLZ…
Fortunately, the more you learn about how your body and energy balance work, the more you learn about flexibility and tracking food intake, the more control you gain over cravings, overeating and binge eating.
That’s exactly what my Online Coaching Program teaches. No more FAD diets, yo-yo dieting, favorite food elimination and restriction. Complete control over your diet and training.