Below are 5 easy food hacks that you can introduce into your diet straight away to help you lose and keep off fat – for good!
A high protein diet can increase your metabolic rate, the amount of calories you burn, while also reducing food cravings and hunger while dieting. Therefore, increasing the amount of protein that you eat at meals and snacks can have huge benefits to both short and long term fat loss. Research has shown that increasing the protein content of your diet to around 30%, can increase metabolism by 212 kcal per day.
Metabolic rate is elevated for many hours after the protein rich meal, so it’s important that you consume protein at regular intervals during the day and avoid having just one single, large protein meal.
Here are some protein sources that you can easily build your meals around or snack on:
- Low fat Greek yogurt
- Smoked salmon
- Whey protein
- Beef jerky
- Boiled eggs
- Low fat milk
Satiety is the scientific term used to describe how full and satisfied a food makes you feel after you have eaten it. Obviously when you diet you need to reduce the amount of calories you are consuming which naturally can increase feelings of hunger and cravings. So paying attention to a foods satiety score and eating those with the highest satiety score will most certainly help you lose fat and keep it off.
We have all been there haven’t we? Crash dieting before a holiday or social event, eating very few calories for a few weeks until we break, as the hunger and cravings get the better of us. Then we end up back where we started after undoing all of our progress.
Research has shown that foods with the highest satiety score are those with the highest essential nutrient density. Foods rich in protein, fibre, calcium and potassium can make you eat less and feel more satisfied. Surprisingly, protein-rich foods score incredibly high on the satiety index. Protein is in fact the most satiating macronutrient. That means it fills you up the most, preventing hunger, cravings and the cookie monster that so often creeps up on you!
This works by increasing hormones PYY and GLP-1, which send signals to the brain telling it that its full and satisfied, and ‘don’t eat anything else’, while also reducing ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”. In one study, increasing protein intake to 30% of total daily calories reduced energy intake by 441 kcal per day. That is pretty astonishing! Similarly, people who drank a whey protein shake an hour before going to a buffet, ate 193 - 215 kcal less than if they did not consume the whey protein shake. This is thanks to the filling effect of protein and the clear signals that protein sends to the brain.
Here is a short list of the foods with the highest satiety score that you should include in your diet daily, ideally with every meal or snack:
- Grilled chicken breast
- White fish fillet
- Fillet steak
- Canned tuna
- Fat free Greek yogurt
- Skimmed milk
- Brussel sprouts
- Oats and oatmeal
- Apples and oranges
And now a list of foods with very low satiety score that you should limit to small quantities in your daily diet as they likely just make you feel hungry and make dieting harder:
- Olive oil
- White bread
- Dark chocolate
Following on naturally from the satiety score, let’s now discuss energy density. Eating less calories does not necessarily mean you have to eat less food. Now that sentence may be a little difficult to comprehend, so I’ll say it again. Eating less calories does not necessarily mean you have to eat less food. When you understand nutrition science and the makeup of food this becomes really easy to understand and apply. To summarise, building your diet around foods with low energy density allows you to eat larger volumes of food (e.g. delicious salads from a big mixing bowl or roasted vegetables with a nice piece of meat or fish) while also eating less calories.
Energy density refers to the amount of calories per gram of food consumed. Low energy density foods provide less calories per gram than high energy density foods, obviously. In general foods with low energy density tend to have a high water content, lots of fibre and very little fat. Things like low fat proteins, fruit, vegetables and broth based soups. On the other hand foods with high energy density, tend to have very low water content, low fibre, high fat, carbohydrate and salt.
Here are some examples of foods with incredibly low energy density:
All of the B.fresh juices are very low energy density too, but particularly Lean Greens.
- Coconut water
- Bell peppers
- Low fat milk
- Egg whites
- Fat free Greek yogurt
- Fat free cottage cheese
- White fish
- Grilled chicken breast
- Butternut squash
- Green peas
- Sweet potatoes
Now some examples of foods with incredibly high energy density:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Nut butters
- Whole-wheat bread
- Coconut milk
Research has clearly shown that individuals who eat a low-energy density diet eat fewer calories, but consume more food volume. They experience less hunger, but greater weight loss than those who eat higher energy density foods or have no control over the energy density of their diet.
Side note: avoid the health halo. Foods such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts are spoken about in the media all the time for their health benefits. There is no doubt they are all packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, but also fat, which makes them incredibly energy dense. The biggest mistake I see people make in their weight loss journey is failing to pay attention to the energy density of foods. The number one reason people don’t lose weight is because they succumb to the health halo of foods and eat these so-called healthy foods in unlimited quantities, but in doing so wrack up an incredibly high energy intake and then cannot lose weight.
Being smart with your carbohydrate intake, particularly the timing of your carbohydrate intake could be the difference between rapid weight loss and diet failure. Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for intense actions, muscle contractions and the brain. Shifting the way you think about carbohydrates, away from ‘carbs are the devil’ to ‘carbs are fuel’ can help you in your weight loss journey.
Research has shown that consistent exercise and activity, particularly resistance training can increase metabolic rate by 7 - 9% or 90 - 140 kcal per day. To train harder, longer and better, time your carbohydrate meals and snacks in such a way that the fuel is available to propel your performance in workouts.
Eating a carbohydrate (e.g. potato, oatmeal, rice) rich meal 2 - 3 hours before or a carbohydrate-rich snack (e.g. rice cakes, banana, or ideally B.fresh Perform) 1-hour before a workout will ensure your body, brain and muscles have the energy they require to work hard and keep progressing in your workouts, so you can increase the amount of calories you burn and keep weight loss on track. The biggest issue when you follow a low carbohydrate, very low calorie diet is that you do not have the energy to workout or maintain high levels of activity in your day to day life. You then burn less calories and weight loss becomes more challenging.
This simple mindset shift allows you to no longer fear carbohydrates and also have the energy to exercise intensely, take the dog for a walk, take the stairs, play with grandchildren and so on. Remember, these foods are fuel that make workouts easier so you can work harder and longer!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly your diet has to be enjoyable!
Research over the past 30 years has clearly shown that your ability to actually follow a diet consistently for a long time, is the most important factor in weight loss. No matter whether it’s a keto diet, low carb diet, intermittent fasting or any other diet.
More often than not people will begin a diet that’s on trend, without really thinking about how long they may be able to follow it. Example, Anne’s favourite food is pasta. Her husband and children also love pasta. She wants to lose 30 pounds and reads about the low carbohydrate diet in a magazine, so starts the following Monday. At first she finds it really easy, until Friday comes around. The family wants pasta for dinner, but she can’t eat it. She watches on as they eat the delicious pasta, but then she breaks. She lost a little bit of weight that week, but then gained it all back because the rules of the diet she was following did not suit her lifestyle and personal preferences. So, like Anne, before you begin any diet think long and hard about whether or not you will actually be able to follow the diet for a long period of time.
Imagine how much easier it would be if you could consume your favourite foods in moderation from time to time. Imagine being able to eat pizza and pasta while also losing weight and keeping it off forever!?
Try and incorporate all of these food hacks into your diet today to start 2024 losing weight the right way!