It’s Monday, you’re still on your diet and you’re being consistent.
The scale’s going down, you’re noticing changes in the mirror and you’ve got the momentum.
First of all, let me just say good on you!
It’s bloody hard for people to be able to stick to a diet long-term but you’re doing it!
Now today’s topic is covering what’s going to happen when you get deeper into your diet.
The further you go into it, the harder it’s going to get.
This is because your body has certain mechanisms in place to stop you from losing weight.
The last thing it wants is for you to lose precious body fat.
Yes, your body actually doesn’t want you to lose fat, it wants to keep it for times of “famine”.
What you’re going to learn is what happens when you get further into a diet and how to counteract it.
FOOD FOCUS INCREASES
You’ve probably noticed this since day one of your diet but it gets worse as the weeks go on. You become focused on certain foods and you will begin to fantasise about certain foods you haven’t eaten in a while.
The reason you tend to focus more on foods is that you’re “restricting” yourself and keeping a low number of calories and that means your mind will start to focus on the things you can’t have.
I remember when I was about 10 weeks into my diet, I started dreaming about eating peanut butter and jelly (jam in Australia) sandwiches. The dream would be me smothering bread in peanut butter jelly and then eating it and being so happy.
I couldn’t believe I was actually dreaming this. The weird thing was that I don’t even eat them when I’m not dieting, so dreaming about them just showed how food-focused I was.
How to beat it
This is where flexible dieting can come in handy and help you get through the tough times. If you track your calories and macronutrients, then you can have some of the foods you enjoy.
If you’re fantasising about pizza then you can have one or two slices to take off that slight craving you have without ruining your diet.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for everyone (including myself) and if you have something like a piece of pizza, you begin to crave more.
So if you’re one of those people then you need to keep consistent with your diet and use logic instead. Because you know your food focus is going to increase, you’ve got to remind yourself that it’s going to happen.
When those cravings come up you can say “this isn’t me thinking logically, this is just my brain playing tricks” and you remind yourself that you can eat those foods when your diet is finished.
Another way to beat the food focus is to tell yourself that you’re “choosing” not to eat it as opposed to saying you “can’t” have that food. That slight change in words gives you the power and reminds yourself that you’re in control of your diet.
This is just a given. When your in a calorie deficit and the body senses you’re eating less food than you’re burning it starts changing its chemistry. Hormones like ghrelin are released to signal hunger. Other hormones like leptin are decreased which signals the brain to start going on the hunt for food. There are other hormones that are upregulated and downregulated but it’s too much detail to get into here.
All you need to know is that hunger is going to come up and it’s going to keep showing up. The body wants you to eat.
How to beat it
Here’s a little trick I like to tell myself when I’m hungry, “this is my body burning fat”.
Since you’re in a calorie deficit and you actually are losing fat, then this statement you tell yourself is true. So being able to remind yourself when hunger comes up that this is just the fat burning happening will help keep you motivated.
Other ways to beat hunger are:
- Eat lots of protein (2g per kg of body weight)
- Fill up on fibre (lots of veggies, salads and a few fruits)
- Drink more caffeine (as long as it doesn’t affect your sleep)
- Go for more long-distance walks when you are hungry
- Drink 0 calorie soft drinks
- Drink more water
Follow as many of these as you can and you will notice a big difference in your hunger.
This is the biggest problem that will stop weight loss in its tracks. Your body wants to fight back by trying to make you move less and when you move less, you burn fewer calories. You may not notice at first but there will be subtle things that happen.
You will fidget less, you will take fewer steps during the day, you will reduce how much facial expression you use when talking (yes I’m serious). The body is trying to save as much energy as possible and will do anything it can to save calories.
How to beat it
The reason people plateau is that they don’t know that they unknowingly decrease there activity and then their “deficit” becomes their maintenance. Then your deficit becomes your maintenance it means you have to drop your calories even further and it makes your diet a bigger struggle.
One of the best things you can do is to buy yourself a fit bit or apple watch and track your steps. When you can keep on track of how active you are and you keeping your steps consistent throughout your diet you’re going to keep your calorie burn high.
If you take roughly 15,000 steps, try and keep it as close as possible to this the whole time you diet.
Awareness Is Key
Now that you know what’s going to happen while dieting it’s going to help make this whole journey easier. Just being aware of what’s to come and knowing some strategies to prevent them from happening is going to help you keep pushing forward without a lot of struggle.