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Simple Metabolic Trick To Avoid Overeating

Received a question from a client recently that I thought would be a good subject to expand on as a coaching tip for everyone. Basically my client had a good understanding of what to eat and what not to eat and was staying pretty much inside the white lines.

The problem is she was not losing weight despite being on diet of mostly whole, natural foods. A little questioning revealed some issues with overeating and portion control. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….getting on a diet of “healthy” foods and cutting out the processed garbage is NOT an instant recipe for weight loss.

For some individuals switching from “bad” to “good” foods is all they have to do and the weight starts falling off, for most though it’s not that simple. Fat loss is always the result of hormonal and chemical messages signaling the body to release stored energy.

The quality of calories we consume from food and drink is equally important if not more than the quantity of calories.

Having said that, it’s certainly still possible to over-consume high quality calories from whole, natural foods. The quantity of calories does matter. Not that you have to go around counting calories all the time. In fact, I advocate against calorie counting.

Sure, it’s definitely helpful to keep a food journal and assess caloric and nutrient intake during the start of a weight loss program. But the purpose of this practice is not to focus on being exact with your calories. It’s about creating habits and having a better understanding of what you’re really consuming.

More on calories and dieting in a second. First, let’s address this issue with overeating. Here’s a simple metabolic trick you can use to help you avoid consuming too many calories at one meal.

This works surprisingly well and you’ll be amazed at how effective it can be. About 20-30 minutes before a meal consume a small amount of the right kind of fat.

A good example would be a handful of raw almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds. Another favorite of mine is a tablespoon of coconut oil (it’s a solid at room temperature and doesn’t taste bad), or almond butter.

Why would this be effective?

Because you can trick your hormonal system by sending signals to your brain that shuts off hunger BEFORE you actually sit down to your meal.

This small amount of fat stimulates production of something called CCK (Cholecystokinin) which is a peptide hormone in the gastrointestinal tract. The combination of CCK release and the decrease in ghrelin levels (hunger hormone) helps you to sit down and enjoy a meal for pleasure and NOT hunger.

If you think about it all you’re doing is getting a “jump start” on sending the right chemical and hormonal signals to your brain that you’re full.

If you sit and just start “chowing down” by the time the satiety signals kick in you’ve already stuffed yourself. This is another reason why you should SLOW DOWN when you’re eating.

Approximately 60-70 calories from fat is all that’s needed to stimulate CCK production so you don’t need a lot. Literally a handful of nuts eaten 20 minutes before a meal can make a big difference in helping you to not overeat.

If you were to consume some potato chips, candy, crackers, etc, prior to a meal the exact OPPOSITE is likely to happen. You’re more prone to overeating due to the chemical and hormonal responses that come from eating sugar, processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, etc.

Dietary fat is NOT your enemy in a weight loss program. In fact, on many levels it’s one of the biggest allies you’ve got. If there is anything that even comes close to resembling a magic bullet with weight loss it’s omega-3 fats. More on that in another post on another day.

Alright, back to this calorie issue before we wrap up…

The truth is you’re going to need BOTH periods of caloric restriction and periodic re-feeding during a fat loss program. Just because you may lose some weight at say 900 calories, 1200 calories, or whatever, doesn’t mean you’ll continue to lose weight at that number indefinitely.

If this was so weight loss would be a simple equation and anybody who could count and measure would be ensured success. This whole idea that you have to periodically break your diet/restriction and up calories throws a lot of people for a loop. They can’t get their head around the fact that eating “more” will actually help them continue to lose weight.

It comes down to not understanding metabolism and how the human body works. I can certainly understand the dilemma though. You restrict calories and lose 3-4 pounds and all of a sudden the weight loss stops. The initial reaction is not to eat more, it’s to eat less! Big mistake though as this only further causes a down-regulation in metabolism along with elevating cortisol levels.

The secret to fat loss in nutshell minus eating the right foods part (quality of calories) is essentially “eat, stop, eat.” You’ve got periods of restriction and periods of re-feeding. Its how the human body has evolved.

You’re wired to store fat much more easily than letting it go. In order to burn off the reserve fuel stores you’ve got to condition your body to avoid triggering the primal “fat storing” switches with prolonged restrictions.

If you’re stuck in weight loss plateau chances are you’ve restricted calories for too long and have triggered a down-regulation in your metabolic rate while simultaneously turning on the “fat storing” switches. Further restriction will only make things worse!

You’ll need to reset your metabolism by bumping your energy intake back up. I know this sounds counter-intuitive but it’s the truth.

Ok, that’s it for today. Hope the tips were helpful. As always feel free to leave your comments.

Talk soon- Shane

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides fitness consulting in Charleston with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. See our success stories from numerous Lowcountry residents then sign up for a no-obligations consultation today.

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Category: Nutrition.