Are you pacing like a cat trying to figure out why you are training or exercising so hard yet you can’t seem to lose weight? Are you counting calories or macros and food-journaling like a champion only to experience minimal success? Fear not my friend. “Calories in equals calories out” is a thing of the past.
Just as science has evolved, we must do the same with our approach to weight loss. Believe it or not, your fueling strategy, basically what you eat and when often carries more weight in the battle of weight loss than exercising or following old-school low-fat/low-calorie approaches.  There are numerous ways to accelerate weight loss, but the concepts we endorse here at MFSN are safe and sustainable.  What’s the point of trying to lose weight if you can’t keep it off?

Here are our top 7 stress and starvation free tips to accelerate weight loss:

1. Leave a Gap Between Food and Bed

Your body needs to adequately “rest and digest” for ultimate cellular repair.  One of the absolute best ways to ensure this happens is to stop eating at least 1 hour before bed, ideally 2-3 hours. This allows ample time for the body to digest our food before we lay it to rest. When our body has the chance to fully repair and rejuvenate after a long day, this promotes better digestion, healthy cortisol levels, and a high functioning metabolism. Not to mention, quality of sleep typically improves when our body is not trying to digest.  When sleep is optimal, weight loss naturally becomes a much less cumbersome task because our body has the strength and energy to run like a well-oiled machine.

2. Don’t Skip Meals!

One of the worst possible tactics for weight loss is skipping meals in the early or middle part of your day! In theory, it makes sense: consume less calories = lose weight more quickly. Unfortunately, this process backfires for most.
Skipping a meal or two during the day often leads to overeating at night, which is the worst possible time to pack in the plates of foods. Plus, you will likely find that skipping meals leads to stronger cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates such as crackers and chips. Why is this? Well, when blood sugar plummets after you have not eaten for an extended period of time, your body realizes that something is not quite right. After all, a low blood sugar for a lengthy period of time can be dangerous. Knowing this, your body sends signals to make more glucose (a form of sugar) in order to keep energy levels up so that you can function. No big deal if this happens rarely from time to time. However, if this is your daily routine and your body is constantly producing insulin to control your blood sugar, this can lead to an excess deposit of body fat, particularly in your midsection. (1)

3. Remember, Sugar is Not Just a Candy Bar

It is certainly no secret that eating an abundance of added sugar can lead to excess weight gain and an increase in overall inflammation. While you may not be stuffing yourself with candy bars and ice cream each day, it is important to understand that added sugar can be found in everything from your favorite yogurt, to granola bar and even canned soup. If you are serious about losing weight, challenge yourself to consume zero grams of added sugar for 30 days. Using fruit and natural spices or herbs will help you succeed. For example, you could add cinnamon instead of brown sugar to sweeten your oatmeal. In your smoothie, you could or add a banana or berries for flavor instead of a fruit juice or sugar-laden protein powder (check our list of the 17 best grass-fed whey protein powders or the TOP plant-based protein powders if you’re looking for the best options).  Trust me, added sugar adds up much faster than you might think when it comes to weight loss, even if your calories are in check!
Not sure if you are consuming added sugar? If you are eating fresh produce or any form of food directly from the Earth, it will not contain added sugar. If you are eating food with a label, read the ingredient list NOT the nutrition facts panel. If the actual ingredient list contains words such as sugar, brown rice syrup, agave nectar etc., sugar has been added to the product. If you are reading a nutrition facts label for cow’s milk for example, you will notice that there is quite a bit of naturally occurring sugar, BUT when you do not see sugar in the ingredient list, that suggests that sugar has not been added to the product.

4. Start Your Day off Right

Starting your morning with sugar and processed carbohydrates will lead to craving sugar and processed carbohydrates for the rest of your day. Even worse than that, you may find that you are hungry an hour after eating breakfast because of the fact that these foods digest so quickly leading to a big spike and then crash in blood sugar. Ever notice that you crave cookies or a granola bar shortly after eating a large bowl of cereal or a pile of waffles? That’s why!
Shortly after eating a processed meal first thing in the morning, your body says “Hey my blood sugar is low all of a sudden! I can’t function like this, I need something to bring it back up and I need it fast!” Instead of falling into this trap, start your morning off with a balance of protein (Not sure how important protein is? Be sure tolearn more about what happens when you don’t get enough protein), plant-based fat, and fiber. A few great alternatives include:
  • A veggie omelet with a few slices of avocado
  • Homemade chicken or turkey sausage with an
  • Avocado with a couple eggs (Michael’s favorite!)
  • A bowl of overnight oats packed with nuts, seeds, fruit and high-quality protein powder
  • Quick go to option: Apple or banana dipped in a couple tablespoons of nut butter (Michael’s 2nd favorite!)

5. Pay Attention to Order

There have been several studies that the order we eat our food has a significant impact on blood sugar.  Overall, much of the research suggests patients who consumed fiber, protein, and plant-based foods BEFORE they ate starch/carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes etc.) had a lower spike in blood sugar than eating the same foods in the reverse order. An example of one such study can be found here. Better blood sugar control is one of the best-kept secrets to losing weight efficiently and effectively

6. Eat Like a Turtle

Did you know that it takes approximately 20 minutes after eating for the brain and stomach to signal each other and say, “Hey, we’re full! Stop eating!”? This may sound like a very short period of time, however, if you ever actually sat down and timed how long it takes you to polish off that plate of food, I bet you will find it is less than 20 minutes. This is also why you might find yourself going for a second or third helping and then seemingly out of nowhere, you can’t move as if a brick landed on top of your gut. Next time you sit down to a meal, take a few deep breaths and really taste your food. In an attempt to slow down, set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes, use your non-dominant hand to scoop your food, or give chopstix a try! You will soon find that you become full off of smaller quantity of food.

7. Consider Intermittent Fasting

More and more research is available today regarding the benefits of intermittent fasting. One of the most effective approaches is leaving a 14-16 hr gap between your last bite of food in the evening and your first bite of food the next day. This allows your body to rest and digest. As a result, you may notice an improvement in sleep quality, energy,  sugar cravings, digestion and weight loss. For ultimate all-star status, make sure that within the 14-16 hr gap, you leave a 2 hr gap between your last bite of food and bedtime. This is what a typical day might look like: Enjoy your last bite of food at 8 pm, begin fasting, fall asleep around 10, enjoy your next bite of food at 10 am or 12 pm the next day. During this 8-10 hour window of eating, focus on consuming 2-3 balanced meals with a snack or two between the hours of 12 pm and 8 pm. If you find that you enjoy this approach, consider implementing it 1-2x/week (keep breakfast a regular part of starting your day on other days!).

Extra References:
  1. Kliewer K, Ke J, Belury M, et al. Short-term food restriction followed by controlled refeeding promotes gorging behavior, enhances fat deposition, and diminishes insulin sensitivity in mice. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2015.