Intermittent fasting

Everyone has heard of this by now. There are many different ways to do IF, probably the most well known is the 5:2 version, which is basically choosing two days per week where you fast. Typically on fasting days, you would only eat 500-600 calories, which for most people would be like eating breakfast but then nothing else. Some people fast on only one day per week, others do shorter fasts but more frequently. Martin Berkhan is one of the pioneers and recommends a daily fast of 16 hours, going from 8pm in the evening through to 12pm midday the following day, although his version is also calorie controlled. Other pioneers include Brad Pilon (eat stop eat) and Ori Hofmekler (Warrior diet).

How does it work – By not eating on one or two days per week, you take in less energy (calories from food) and therefore create a calorie deficit and lose weight. Another benefit of this one, is that it doesn’t require you to drastically change your diet too much.

Eat from the Rainbow

This is a dietary practice made popular by John Berardi and the behemoth that is Precision Nutrition. The idea is to get as many colours as possible on your plate every time you eat. Colourful fruits and veggies, grains, meats, fish, legumes and dairy are all acceptable. Some might view this as a “clean eating” diet, a phrase I am not a fan of as its open to opinion and debate, I prefer to say a fresh food diet, meaning – if it will go off in a matter of days, its a good thing to eat.

We all need to eat more fruits and veggies, and by doing so, we drastically reduce calories from other sources. The other thing I like about it, is that it gives you a different type of focus, I see it as a challenge worthy of your efforts.

How does it work – Colourful foods are generally low in calories, therefore you create an energy deficit and lose weight. If you manage to get 7 different colours on your plate every time you eat, its highly unlikely you’ll ever over eat but yet you’ll be full up, satiated and full of energy.

Switching starch for veggies

This is a very good place to start if you are only just getting focussed on improving your dietary intake. Similar to IF, you don’t need to make many changes to your diet. Unless you are someone who doesn’t already eat vegetables!  Simply halve your portion of all starches (potato, rice, bread, pasta, oats) and double your portion of vegetables.

How does it work – This one works very similarly to the above, you’re reducing calorie dense foods and increasing low calorie but fibrous foods so as not to feel too hungry. Remember, nobody ever got fat eating too many fruits and vegetables.

Eating slow

Quite simply, SLOW DOWN!

When we eat slower, we notice how we are feeling during meal times. I mean, believe it or not, its possible to feel yourself getting full up. Herein lies the problem. We eat so fast we don’t get the full signal. We shovel it in as if its our last meal! It takes 20 minutes to get the full signal, so the plan is to stretch out meal times to last at least 20 mins. Its believed that this is why the French have such a low rate of CV disease, meal times for them are social occassions, they take their time, they nibble, they drink, they converse, they laugh together. It slows things down and they end up eating less. And remember, this is a nation that love cheese and bread! The very things that many diet plans banish right from the start! Go figure! So next time you eat, check the time and see how long you can go before you’ve gobbled the last moughful!

How does it work – If you slow down, there’s a good chance you’ll not finish the food on the plate. Therefore you’ve consumed less and created an energy deficit.

Portion control

This is similar to switching starch for veg, but here you limit everything across the board. Simply eat less of the foods you currently eat. So next time you plate up at meal time, portion out slightly less. Put less mayo in your sandwich, less cereal in your bowl, only eat half the chocolate bar, drink half the amount of alcohol, half the amount of bacon, etc etc. There aren’t any steadfast rules in any of this, just simply find ways to consume less calorie rich foods. Do that however you like and in a way that you can keep doing repeatedly. Note I’m not saying cut anything out. Its important you also get a little bit of what you like. Restriction never works long term!

How does it work – Smaller portions means less calories. That means you’ve created an energy deficit and will lose weight.

The water trick

This is one I picked up from Alan Aragorn at his most recent seminar tour. Like most of the  tips above, this one is super simple and works like a charm if repeated daily. Lets get the science out of the way first. Your stomach has a receptor in there that responds when it expands. So when we dump loads of water in there, the brain thinks we are full, and hunger goes away. Neat huh!

So drink a tall glass of water before your meal, drink one with your meal and drink one after your meal. Another option is to include meals that contain lots of water, like broths or soups. That will have the same effect.

How does it work – This will help you manage your hunger and food intake, therefore creating that all important calorie deficit to lose weight.

Have a starter

Have you ever been out for a meal, had a starter and then struggled with your main? I think we’ve all done that at some point. Well why not use this approach at home?

Have a small plate of food, before a big plate of food. This acts like a guage to see how hungry you are. Eat slow for best effects 😉

Then you can decide how much to portion out for your main. A really simple one is the classic prawn cocktail, but it could be some chicken wings, or drumsticks, a small plate of salad, or even some fruit. Take a 15 minute break between starter and main to allow the brain to communicate with the gut.

How does it work – Its a combination of the slowing down technique and portion control. Chances are you’ll eat less in your main meal with consistent practice, and therefore create an energy deficit and lose weight.

So there you go!

7 dietary practices that don’t involve counting calories. Implement one or two of these and consistently do them. You get what you focus on. Good looking diet = good looking body!

Author – Pete Luffman, a personal trainer and nutrition coach.