Most diets work if you are consistent and stick to them. Another way to say this is that successful fat loss is all about your habits.
Adopting worthwhile lifestyle habits takes will power out of the equation. This is critical because we know that will power has a shelf life. Not only do we run out of it over the course of the day, stress absolutely demolishes will power.
This article gathers the best and worst lifestyle habits for reducing body fat. Based on recent research and common sense, here are the nine best habits for increasing fat loss success.
1: Combine nutrition & exercise.
Although exercise is not the magic bullet for fat loss that everyone thinks it is, it consistently leads to greater improvements in body composition when combined with better dietary habits.
Exercise improves body composition outcomes by boosting mood, increasing insulin sensitivity, and building muscle mass. It can also reduce stress and improve sleep, both of which play a role in energy balance and the ability to lose body fat.
2: Do a food diary
A common mistake when trying to lose weight is to think you have a clear picture of what you’re eating. We are notorious for underestimating how many calories we are eating. This is easily one of the most common reasons people don’t lose fat even though they think they are doing everything right. After all, it’s impossible to solve a problem that you don’t know exists.
An honest food diary will give you raw data you need to overcome bad eating habits. You are 8 times more likely to succeed if your write down every thing you eat. I use the ‘my fitness pal’ app to keep note of what I consume on a daily basis.
Food diaries work because they allow you to identify solutions to weak spots in your diet, for example, are you skipping meals? Or do your food choices deteriorate on stressful work days or when you eat out with friends?
3: Be mindful of portions.
Calories do matter. After all, in order to lose fat it’s necessary to take in fewer calories than you expend. Creating an energy deficit is the Number 1 way to lose body fat.
Research shows that there are a number of different ways to make sure this happens:
* People on higher protein, lower carb diets tend to naturally eat fewer calories than they expend because the protein is very satiating and provides a metabolic advantage.
* Calorie counting can lead to greater fat loss, especially when combined with higher protein diets that contain a lot plants.
* Monitoring portions by weighing or measuring food leads to greater fat loss than eating as much as you want.
4: Don’t skip meals.
Skipping meals seems like it could help you lose fat because it would theoretically save you all the calories from the skipped meal, but studies shows that it generally backfires.
Random meal skipping has a detrimental effect on energy metabolism, and because hunger and stress hormones get out of balance, it stimulates food intake, leading to greater energy intake overall.
The one exception to this is a planned intermittent fasting in which people intentionally eat only one or two meals and thereby reduce calorie intake on “fasting” days. The difference is that both meal timing and calorie intake are consistent instead of the haphazard result of a desire to not eat.
5: Substitute less energy dense foods for higher fat, high-calorie foods.
It’s no surprise that certain foods provide a metabolic advantage:
* Vegetables are filling due to their high fiber and nutrient content but very low in calories.
* Though higher in energy, fruit is also high in indigestible fiber and tends to be very satiating while being lower in calories than grains or processed carbs.
* Protein is very satiating and it costs the body more calories to digest than carbs or fat.
* Whole foods have a higher thermic effect they cost the body more calories to digest just as protein does than processed foods.
Studies show that substituting these big bang for your buck foods for higher fat, higher calorie foods can lead to significantly greater fat loss.
7: Eat protein at every meal.
Hands down one of the best habits you can adopt for better body composition is to eat protein at every meal. Besides reducing hunger and being calorically costly for the body to digest, protein sustains lean muscle mass so that you burn more calories daily.
Plus, planning meals around protein is a simple way of ”anchoring” meals around lower calorie foods.
A high quality protein tends to be animal proteins such as beef, fish, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
8: Cook at home.
Cooking at home lets you take control of an out of control situation. Not only do you avoid the social factor that makes it “ok” to indulge, you have better control over portions, ingredients, and energy density.
9: Prepping your food.
Being consistent with meal prep will not only help you attain your fitness related goals more quickly, but will save you money and in some cases can help reduce stress or anxiety associated with food choices.