4 tactics to make dieting easier and more sustainable
written by Philip Stefanov | DECEMBER 28, 2021
As we wrap up 2021, hoping for a better 2022, I decided it would be fitting to dedicate a newsletter to dieting.
Plenty of people want to start shedding fat at the start of each year, so I present you with four tactics to make the process easier and more sustainable.
1. Pace Yourself
Pacing yourself refers to a gradual and systematic weight loss approach. Instead of slashing your calories to lose a lot of weight right away, you reduce your food intake gradually. The approach carries two benefits:
- You don’t feel as restricted, especially in the early weeks of dieting. Many people lose up to 10, even 15 pounds, before they start feeling like they are on a diet.
- You leave plenty of room to reduce your calories further as weight loss inevitably stalls. For example, if you stop losing weight at 2,300 calories, you can drop to 2,100 and kickstart progress for a few weeks.
Determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and remove no more than 500 to 600 calories. If your TDEE is 3,000 calories, start your fat loss on no fewer than 2,400-2,500 calories. Ideally, you should lose one to 1.5 pounds of weight weekly for the first month.
As time passes and weight loss stalls, you can drop to 2,300 calories, then 2,200, and 2,000. Sure, the approach might take a bit longer, but it will make it easier to handle and possibly allow you to retain more muscle and strength.
2. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is quite popular these days, but for the wrong reasons. Many people believe that fasting will somehow lead to superior fat loss, which isn’t true. Your total daily calorie intake is what determines if you lose any weight.
What makes fasting beneficial is that it allows you to have larger and more satisfying meals, making you feel like you’re not dieting. The idea is to combine fasting with sound fat loss principles, making the overall process more sustainable.
The most common fasting approach is the 16:8 - fast for 16 hours per day and eat all of your daily calories in an 8-hour window. You can implement the system by skipping your morning meal, breaking your fast at noon, and having dinner at 7 or 8 pm. It might be challenging initially, but it gets easier with time and makes dieting much easier.
3. Have The Occasional Diet Break
A diet break is a period, usually a week or two long, where you raise your calorie intake to maintenance. The idea is to give yourself a break from dieting and hopefully reverse some of the changes from being a calorie deficit. As a result:
- Hunger drops
- You stop obsessing over food as much
- Energy expenditure goes up a bit
- You regain some of the lost strength in the gym
The frequency of diet breaks will vary from person to person and depend on how quickly you’re losing weight and how lean you are. You should start including more frequent diet breaks as you get leaner, given how dieting gets more challenging over time. For example, you can start with a week-long diet break for every six weeks of dieting, then do diet breaks for every four weeks in a deficit.
I also recommend timing your diet breaks with recovery/de-load weeks in training. Eating more food will help you recover better and go back to regular training with more vigor and enthusiasm.
4. Focus On The Week Ahead
A significant reason why many people struggle with dieting is that they look at the big picture, which can be overwhelming.
For example, if a person is on their third week of dieting, it might feel challenging to keep going for another ten, twelve, or twenty weeks. But, if that person only focuses the week ahead, they can make better choices and feel less pressure. Doing so isn’t always easy, but focusing on short-term objectives and progress makes the process easier to handle.
You can also introduce diet breaks, which we discussed previously. Instead of thinking, “Crap! I have another three months of dieting!” you can say, “Sure, it’s difficult right now, but I only have two more weeks of dieting before my next break.”
Thank you for reading! Until next year,
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