Heads up! This article is about diet tricks – not fundamentals. These can be really useful for people who already have a sound diet planned, and are having a little difficulty sticking to it (for whatever reason). If you don’t follow any sort of diet, they still might be a little helpful, but I strongly recommend that you get the big picture in-check before you start worrying about the details.
If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that I haven’t really “dieted” in quite a while, but I have done some pretty darn extreme weight cuts for powerlifting. Going to extremes is always a test of willpower, so I’ve had to find ways to make the deprivation a little bit easier for me. Even if you’re not going to any extremes (and I suggest that you don’t), you can use the same tricks to help below whenever you’re struggling to stay on track with your diet.
Editor’s note: The following is an op-ed. It’s best to consult with your physician before starting any new diet or weight loss regimen.
Stay Full by Drinking Coffee
Coffee has a ton of benefits for dieters. First, and probably most important, coffee is mostly water. When you drink a lot of water, you:
- Improve your performance by staying hydrated
- Help decrease hunger by filling your stomach
- Look leaner by decreasing water retention (bloat)
On top of that, the caffeine in coffee helps to suppress your appetite, keep your energy levels up while in a caloric deficit, and boost your metabolism. Yeah, caffeine is a diuretic, so it will offset some of those hydration benefits, but the net effect is a positive one (you’re taking in more liquid than you’re going to pee out).
Of course, if the caffeine keeps you up or leaves you feeling frazzled, there’s always decaf. In fact, any hot beverage will help keep you a bit more satiated than plain water.
Keep Busy by Chewing Gum
This one is my favorite. Like coffee, chewing sugar-free gum can help you diet in a couple of ways. Most importantly, having something to do with your mouth means you can’t eat caloric foods. But gum is also great because the minty feeling in your mouth will help to decrease cravings for sweets and desserts. Brushing your teeth works well here, too!
In general, keeping busy is incredibly important when you’re in the depths of a tough diet. Think about it: how many times have you been so slammed with work or school that you forgot to eat altogether, and when you finally remembered, realized that you weren’t all that hungry after all? And, on the flip side, how many times have you downed an entire box of candy while mindlessly watching TV? Food, hormones, and other physical factors have a huge impact on your appetite, but mental factors play a role, too.
Save Calories by Spicing Things Up
Spicy foods are wonderful when you’re in a caloric deficit. First, they taste awesome. You’re less likely to feel deprived eating some chicken spiced up with Tabasco or habanero sauce compared to plain-and-boring boiled breast. Second, spicy foods leave you feeling fuller, for longer. Now, unlike coffee, spicy foods aren’t going to ramp up your metabolism to any significant degree. But (especially in the short term) eating less is a faster route to fat loss, anyway.
Looking at things a little more broadly, if you are feeling deprived by your diet, changing food choices can be a great way to shake the diet blues. Even a simple substitution like eating a sweet potato instead of rice can be enough to trick yourself into feeling good again. I also highly recommend the use of calorie-free condiments – not only spices and hot sauce, but also things like mustard, or many of the awesome products available from Walden Farms.
At the end of the day, though, your diet success is going to come down to how well you plan, and how consistently you follow that plan. There are tricks, but there are no shortcuts!
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.