Updated: May 27, 2020
Listen up - I'm a foodie. I mean like a HUGE foodie. I spend my weekends making homemade pasta, experimenting with culturing my own yogurt, quick pickling red onions, and soaking and sprouting chickpeas or black beans. I've always been very serious about having the weekend to relax, create, and enjoy out-of-this-world food. I even plan my vacations around cuisines that I want to experience! (In case you were wondering, next up is Scandinavian food with trips to Norway and Iceland!). And I believe that's actually one of the biggest keys to maintaining a healthy, fit weight: really enjoying the food you eat. Because you know what ends up happening when you don't? Your body senses that it's deprived and you end up eating a whole lot more of something else to try and get the same feels you would have had with less food.
But I digress. I tend to do this often when I talk about my love for food! Today I'm sharing 5 ways that you can actually lose weight without cutting calories (and yes! Enjoying your food is one of the tips!).
How is it possible to lose weight without reducing your caloric intake? Well let's take a little stroll down Nutrition Rant lane for that explanation...
Why calories don't matter
The idea that you have to consume less calories than you burn is an antiquated one based off of the idea that our bodies are simply machines: you add fuel and you burn that fuel. Simple, right? Not really. When it comes to weight loss, you need to look at how your body is reacting to the food that you're eating. Are you in storage (anabolic) mode or burning (catabolic) mode? This is determined largely by the hormones present in your body. For example, insulin is the anabolic hormone. When you have high levels of insulin, your body is in anabolism - aka weight gain. When you have higher levels of growth hormone, glucagon, and leptin your body is in catabolism - aka weight loss. There are many other hormones involved in your body that I'm going to discuss in the tips below. Sleep, environment, the types of food you eat, when you eat, and stress levels all have an effect on your hormones. These hormones determine the fate of your food that you eat - stored as fat or burned as energy.
Today I'm sharing 5 things you can do to help balance these hormones and tap into your fat burning metabolism without cutting calories.
#1. Eat your fruit at night
Fruit has beneficial antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals... but not quite as much as veggies do (especially the dark leafy green variety). They're deemed nature's candy and for good reason. Compared to vegetables, fruit is very high in a simple sugar called fructose. Fructose doesn't raise your blood glucose levels and cause insulin to spike... BUT studies show high amounts lead to insulin resistance, obesity, and heart disease. Having large quantities of fruit in the morning (think an acai banana smoothie bowl with fruit and sweetened granola as toppings) leads to further sugar cravings throughout the day. This can cause you to reach for a candy bar or even more fruit... and the cycle continues.
Tip: Try switching your fruit intake to a nighttime dessert. This reduces your sugar cravings throughout the day and therefore helps with weight loss.
#2. Get better ZZZs
It's not quantity, it's quality. Your major restorative actions happen during deep sleep. When you don't get enough, your body produces higher levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone), making it harder to ignore those 3pm munchies. On average, you need about 1.6-1.8 hours of deep sleep - that's about 20% of your total sleep time. If you have a FitBit or other sleep tracking device, you can get a sense of what your sleep patterns are currently like.
Tip: Don't look at any screens 1 hour prior to bedtime. Screens such as laptops, T.V.s, cell phones, and tablets emit a type of light that disturbs melatonin (sleep hormone) production. Not using technology an hour before bed helps to normalize this hormone.
#3. Ease up on the protein
If you're used to filling your grocery list with protein powder, large cuts of meat, eggs, and high protein yogurts, this could be causing your body to hold on to weight. Protein added to a meal can help to increase your satiety level and decrease snacking throughout the day. However, if you have high protein meals consistently as your main source of calories, your body may convert that protein into sugar and store it as fat as a result. Studies are showing that high protein diets can cause a 90% increased risk of gaining weight.
Tip: Proteins are needed for many functions in your body - including making hormones! I recommend sticking to about 1-1.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For example, a 120 pound person will have about 55-76g per day.
#4. Find Buddha
Stress sucks. Having too much of it can even cause you to gain weight. Cortisol (aka the stress hormone) causes your body to increase it's blood glucose levels. These increased levels end up getting stored as fat - particularly around your middle.
I'm a BIG advocate for daily stress reduction techniques. Stress comes in three forms: emotional (which you're probably already aware of), physical (like exercise or lack thereof), and environmental (think pollution, toxins, and heavy metals in drinking water).
Tip: Turn your phone on "Do Not Disturb Mode" as soon as you leave work. Any emails or texts can wait until the next day. Outside of work, this is your time to relax, repair, and de-stress. Maybe even try a meditation!
#5. Enjoy your food
And now we're tying it all together from the beginning... enjoy what you're eating! When's the last time that you really savored your food? I mean, sat there, enjoyed every bite, analyzed the flavors - all while not watching T.V., doing work, or scrolling through your phone. You'd be surprised by just how much more enjoyable eating is when you give yourself the time to experience it fully. Researchers are finding that mindful eating can help you lose weight by increasing digestion, boosting satiety, and turning off hunger hormones.
Tip: Try eating one of your meals per day without any distractions. I recommend my Pumpkin Chili Goodness, L.A. Street Tacos, or Falafels + Tabbouleh from my THRIVING Cookbook! Enjoy the food in front of you and reap the benefits of balanced hormones, increased fat burning, and the joy of FOOD!
BONUS TIP ~ Utilize Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is an advanced nutrition strategy that has helped hundreds of AEN peeps around the WORLD to achieve their weight loss goals while also getting rid of bloating, improving their sleep, clearing their skin and decreasing their hunger levels.
Learn the science behind Intermittent Fasting and Nutrient Timing in order to achieve your weight loss goals (while eating bomb food!) with the 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Program! It even contains a 3 week meal-by-meal guide, easy to make recipes AND a 3 week workout guide specifically designed for Intermittent Fasting.
Learn more HERE!