Weight loss tips and tricks
Let's first look at how to combat hunger, the arch-nemesis of your cutting phase. Your genetics play a part in regulating your general hunger levels throughout the day [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], specifically the gene MC4R.
You encounter this particular gene every time you have a meal — it's responsible for letting you know when you feel full from eating. Some people won the genetic lottery (let's call them type 1 people) and can feel full after just a small meal. Others, like many of the beta-testers, can eat 7 slices of pizza and then ask for the rest of the box. They are type 2 people.
The main issue for type 2 people is getting that "full" feeling without actually eating too many calories. But, thankfully, there are tons of easy ways to feel full.
All of the most up-to-date tips and tricks are listed below in no particular order, and it's recommended you use all of them to make your cutting phases as easy as possible!
This is probably the biggest mistake you'll make while cutting.
A regular-sized caramel frappuccino from Starbucks is 370 calories. You won't feel full after drinking it, and worse, the high sugar content will make you hungry again very soon. Those 370 calories could have been made into a huge salad that would keep you feeling full for hours.
But, while we're on the topics of salads, do not think that you are healthy just because you are eating one. Just 2 tablespoons (30g) of ranch dressing has 145 calories, and who only uses 2 tablespoons or ranch? Avoid high-calorie liquids as much as possible.
- For a sweet drink alternative, try diet soda or other low-calorie drinks.
- For dressing alternatives or any sauce high in calorie (think barbecue sauce or mayo), use a lower-calorie alternative like those from Walden Farms.
If you are at a special event like a birthday, allow yourself to have a drink or two but make sure that you are not over your calorie limit by checking Nutrionix (or your calorie counting app of choice).
So when you're feeling peckish between meals, eat a high protein bar or snack paired with a high volume vegetable or food (like cucumbers or low-calorie popcorn) to keep you feeling full until you eat your next meal.
For example, you could either eat 4 tablespoons of peanut butter (over 400 calories) or eat a huge salad with about the same amount of calories. Which do you think will fill you up more?
Here are a few high volume/low calorie foods you should consider adding to your menu:
Good: Lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, spinach, kale, and celery
Bad: Parsnip, kale, beets, artichoke, and brussel sprouts
Good: Strawberries, watermelon, melon, blackberries, peaches, and cantaloupe
Bad: Any dried fruit, avocado (in excess), coconut, mango, and dates
Good: Popcorn (low-calorie kind), soup, cottage cheese, and rice cakes
Bad: High-calorie snacks, chips, candy, and really everything you find next to the grocery checkout
If you hate broccoli, don't eat it. The point of the cutting phase isn't to suffer! You should enjoy everything that you eat whether that's vegetables, fruits, dairy, or anything else.
If you do not enjoy the cutting phase, you will not stick with it. The most important aspect of your diet isn't how fast you can lose weight, but whether or not you enjoy it and can stick with it until the end.
As you go shopping, you will be tempted to buy items that will work against you (donuts, chocolate, and pastries are a few common examples). Don't buy them.
Even if right now your will power is at an all-time high, you will break and eat them eventually. One day you will have a bad day and binge, so don't let yourself fall into the trap of eating what you have available.
Make sure your house is full of high volume food and high volume snacks so even when you do binge eat on occasion, you don't regress in progress to much.
If you don't have unhealthy food at home, the chances of you eating it are close to zero. Do your future-self a favor and throw it out.
If you have unhealthy food lying around your house, you will be tempted to eat it every time. Even if you pass by it a hundred times and don't eat it, you will eventually give in.
Don't let this happen and just put any junk food somewhere you never look, or better yet, donate it to someone who will eat it.
You might have been told before that sugar alternatives like Splenda, Stevia, and others are more harmful than regular sugar, but the truth couldn't be farther from that. Below you'll find toggles addressing most —if not all— of the concerns people usually have in regards to artificial sweeteners.
Several studies have reported that sugar alternatives have either no effect or a positive one on your metabolism [1, 2, 3]. In fact, in study #3, after tracking participants for 6 months, those drinking diet soda weighed 17-21% less, had 24-31% less belly fat, 32% cholesterol levels, and 10-15% lower blood pressure compared with the participants that drank regular soda.
Multiple randomized controlled studies — the gold standard in scientific research — report that artificial sweeteners may reduce body weight, fat mass, and waist circumference [1, 2]. Additionally, more studies have shown that by replacing soft drinks with sugar-free versions can decrease BMI by up to 1.3-1.7 points [1, 2]; perfect for our bodybuilding needs.
- A small number of people have the rare metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) and cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine found in aspartame (a type of artificial sweetener). But, if you are one of these rare individuals, just avoid sugar alternatives that contain aspartame, namely Equal and Nutrasweet.
- Some individuals are allergic to saccharin (another type of artificial sweetener), and should avoid sweeteners like Sweet & Low, Sweet Twin, and Necta Sweet. All the other ones should work perfectly fine!
A good rule of thumb is when you don't know exactly how something was made, like a candy bar, don't eat it! To reiterate the point made in "Eat High Volume Food", this means sticking with food that comes straight from the dirt/water like minimally processed vegetables, fruits, and meats.
Try to make your diet as easy as possible and take the foods you already like and switch out what you already eat with lower-calorie alternatives.
Here are just a few examples:
Also, there are plenty of great, high protein low-fat products in every grocery store. You can find the updated list on the Recipes, Foods, and Ingredients page.
Additionally, there is a slight increase in metabolic rate when eating more calories early on and can prevent you from getting the usual afternoon slump (see research above).
Try it yourself: Eat 50% of your calories for your first high-protein meal and then split the later meals into smaller ones.
Reducing the hours you allow yourself to eat has been shown to have a host of benefits including, but not limited to:
Try it yourself:
- Limit yourself to a 10-hour feeding window, for example from 9 AM to 7 PM
- If you feel a decrease in hunger or an increase in energy, reduce your feeding window to 9 hours the next week and then 8 hours the following week
- A feeding window from 12 PM to 8 PM seems to work best for most people
To remember to eat slower every time you eat, you can create a habit loop doing these things:
- When you put food in your mouth (the cue)
- Count to four while chewing (the routine)
- The swallow (the reward)
- Between every third or fourth mouthful, take a sip of water
If you find yourself mindlessly eating out of a bag of chips often, this is the tip for you.
Instead of buying the huge "family" sized options, buy the single-serve options to forcefully reduce the amount you eat. With smaller bags, you'll know exactly how much you ate instead of trying to estimate exactly how much you ate from a huge bag.
When food is in front of you on the table it's hard to stop at one serving. Next time you pile up food on your plate, limit yourself to whatever you can fit on it and then no more.
A simple rule like this can easily manage portion control and stop you from inhaling food you really aren't hungry for. Unfortunately, more research needs to be done to test this, but it worked wonders for the beta-testers.
Weight gain tips and tricks
If the fitness world, those who have trouble gaining weight are known as "hard gainers", an issue more common than you might think. Below are the tips and tricks you can use to get over your weight gain plateaus in no particular order.
If you are following your calorie and macronutrient goals to a point and still not gaining weight, fat is your best friend.
Just by adding a tablespoon(13.5g) of olive oil to a meal, you can easily add about 120 calories ! Try finding ways to sneak in high-fat ingredients into your meals like butter, oils, or avocado and you should see the number on your scale creep up.
While cutting you would definitely want to avoid these, but while gaining weight they might not be so bad! Having a huge protein shake with a nut butter or a hot chocolate with whole milk will easily add another 200 calories to your daily total.
Adding calorie-dense healthy foods like peanut butter, quinoa, and avocado will add a ton of calories to your meals without making you feel full so try adding a few!
If you work at a job that requires you to walk a lot, you can potentially burn a lot of calories which can impact your rate of weight gain. To combat this, try lowering your step count in the other parts of the day like skipping a morning walk or a bike ride with a friend.
But, if you want to still exercise at your current amount, just refer back to the previous tips to make sure you are still gaining a moderate weight gain of half a pound (0.23kg) per week.
Caution: Don't go all-in at the beginning. Start with one or two of these tips in moderation and then check after a week to see if your weight has gone up.
If not, try implementing a few more tips gradually, but do not gain too much weight! Any weight you gain over your muscle-building potential will be fat, not healthy muscle.