One Question I Ask Every Person Who Is On A Diet
I get many guys asking me how they can overcome fat loss plateaus, or how they can start losing weight, both in person and online. In both cases, whatever they are doing isn’t currently working. Their diet has failed.
“How do I break through my fat-loss plateau?”
“How do I push past this sticking point?”
“What do I need to cut out in order to achieve x?”
Now, these questions are fine, but there is a slight issue with them. It’s to do with the mindset from which they are coming from. I understand the frustration behind these questions, but in my experience at least, this frustration is BAD for dieting consistency.
“Breaking through”, “pushing past” and “cutting out” are derived from a scarcity-based mindset. Sure, you could cut out more food and drop total calories, and you may lean down further. For a while. But this approach always catches up with you in the end.
Do we want to temporarily “break through” the fat-loss plateau, or do we want to permanently destroy it? I think you know the answer 🙂
I encourage you to read until the end of this article, as there is a good chance that my number 1 question won’t make much sense at first. It’s a little strange and counter-intuitive, however, it is always the best strategy for long-term success. Bear with me, and read until the end.
The question I ask these guys, is always: “Instead of targeting which foods/calorie sources to eliminate (and deprive yourself of), why don’t you ask yourself which foods you should eat more of, first?”
The key word here is first. Sure, eventually you will need to start cutting food out, but I think the more positive, abundance mindset should be the priority.
This is an approach that radically shifts your mindset. It prevents the infamous yo-yo binge-fest, back-and-forth nonsense that we’re all guilty of 😉
The issue with dieting is that we tend to feel worse off from it (for obvious reasons), and it’s almost like we try to compensate for this effect. It seems that if we can minimise these negative feelings, namely feeling deprived and miserable, then we can minimise our brains trying to compensate (namely, lose control and possibly full-on binge).
Just remember, you can always drop total calories later on if you need to, however, once you make the cut, there’s no going back.
The benefits of consuming more:
- Protein (to an extent)
- Fruit & Veg
are that you will feel fuller and more energised, and because of this, you won’t end up binging; doing more harm than good. Everything simply becomes more sustainable.
Another key point:
Feeling fuller and more energised will give you far greater scope for calorie decreases in the future. It’s almost like a positive, upward shift in your body’s ability to perform to a high standard within a given caloric deficit.
Let’s look at an example.
Bob vs Sam – A Scarcity Diet vs An Abundance Diet
Bob has hit a fat-loss plateau, and is now growing increasingly frustrated as he can’t progress towards his goals. He feels helpless, and assumes that the only thing he could possibly do is to start cutting out all carbs, as he’s read that Keto is now the magic formula for walking round at 5% body fat year-round… *eye-roll*.
He now decreases his calorie consumption from 2200 to 1600. “Screw it”, he says.
1 week later…
His wife offers him a cupcake that looks all too delicious at his cousin’s engagement party, and now being surrounded by other people having fun, he can’t control the irresistible urge to BINGE.
Champagne simply adds fuel to the fire.
4500 calories later, and he realises the hard work he put in all week has now completely gone to waste…what should he do now? Why does this approach not work in the real world like it’s supposed to?!
Now let’s look at smart Sam. Sam is tactful, and tackles the fat-loss plateau with a longer-term solution. It’s not as sexy as Bob’s instantaneous, short-term, (and almost child-like) approach, but it works.
It works very, very well. Why?
Sam doesn’t reduce his calories straight away. In fact, they may even be slightly higher, perhaps by 100-200. He makes a conscious effort to:
- Drink 4 litres of water per day.
- Increase his protein intake from 0.6g per pound of bodyweight, to 0.8g per pound of bodyweight.
- Double his vegetable portions sizes.
- Snack on various fruits throughout the day; satisfying his sweet tooth. Apples, pears, grapes, strawberries and melon are all great examples.
- Increase his TDEE (daily energy expenditure), simply by getting outside more, walking more and being generally more active.
His total caloric intake is now 2300, as opposed to 2200.
He still eats some chocolate and sweets occasionally, and makes no effort to eliminate them, as he knows this isn’t possible to permanently achieve in the 21st century in our society. These foods always find a way of crawling their way back into one’s diet, eventually.
Eliminating them from your diet is always a temporary phenomenon.
With this in mind, how on earth is Sam actually losing fat?
He isn’t, at least not yet. He is patient, and bides his time. After a couple of weeks of making these positive, abundance-focused changes, he notices he feels great. He’s stronger than ever in the gym, and almost never feels hungry.
He also eats his chocolate less often. The urge simply isn’t there anymore. Sure, he still eats some, but nowhere near as often as he used to. By default, his total calories are now about 2100. He starts to very slowly lose body fat without even thinking about it.
This motivates him. He then makes a conscious decision to reduce his total calories a little further, perhaps to 1900. He eliminates nothing. He is free to eat whatever the hell he wants, as long as he makes sure he is continuing to perform the above four points, and sticks to his total calorie goal.
He continues to lose body fat. The plateau is effortlessly broken. No frustration, no scarcity.
What happens when this engagement party rolls around? Realistically, yes he knows that he isn’t going to stick to 1900 calories, even with an IF strategy. Although this is perfectly possible, he wants to enjoy time with friends and family and allows himself to have 2500 calories, as a reward for destroying the weight-loss plateau.
Guess what? He consumes his 2500 calories, having already eaten the majority of his protein and vegetables before the party, and he is satisfied. There are no cravings, as there was very minimal deprivation in the first place.
Not only was his calorie deficit smaller than Bob’s, but Sam also consumed far more protein and fiber, and never eliminated sweets/chocolate. He literally had the best of both worlds. This kind of diet is what I talk about in my book. It’s great.
Sam continues on his diet of 1900 calories the next morning, with virtually zero consequences from the night before. The show goes on. No stress, no worries, no yo-yo frustrations.
But, seriously, if there is one thing I would love for you to take away from this article, it would be:
On a diet, your primary focus should be on performing the positive actions first. Don’t try to eliminate anything, or push past anything. It doesn’t work in the real world. You can always drop your calories later if you need to, and when you do, it won’t be anywhere near as difficult.