1. “Never Miss Twice” Rule
If you could only implement one rule from this list, this one would likely be the most helpful. This rule just means you can’t ever have two crappy meals in a row. If you heavily overeat at lunch, you’ve gotta clean it up at dinner.
→ Nutritious Meal
→ Crap Meal
→ Nutritious Meal
2. Healthy-Unhealthy Rule
This rule states that any less nutritious food needs to be paired with a more nutritious food.
Example: you go to the pinnacle of all fast-casual restaurants in the world, Chick-Fil-A, and you order their fried chicken sandwich. Instead of getting fries, you’d make your side a large fruit cup. Or, if you want the fries, you would change the fried chicken sandwich to a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato (or similar).
3. Traveler’s Trick
I didn’t notice I did this until recently, but one of the first things I do when traveling is locate a grocery store on the first day of travel and buy a large mixed fruit tray. By the last day, I want to be at least close to finishing the entire thing. Since it has a variety of colors and different fruits, I’m also getting in a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and water from it (all things we typically lack when out of our normal routines).
4. What one decision can you make to eliminate 100 future decisions?
- Order ready-to-eat dinners for the week (my recommendation)
- Create a menu of 3-5 home cooked dinners you can regularly rotate each week
- Keep your breakfast and lunch the same every day (with choices that align with your goals), use dinner for variety
- Hire a coach to outsource decisions
- Set timers on your phone for an hour before you normally eat so you consider options BEFORE getting ravenously hungry (could be short-term only)
- Alcohol on weekends only
- Go for a walk immediately after waking, Mon-Fri
- You only watch your favorite show while doing cardio
- Follow a fitness program that works
5. How can you make the healthy choice easy and the unhealthy choice hard?
HEALTHY → EASY
- Lay out workout clothes, keys, snacks, shoes, charged headphones, and water bottle night before. Buy single serving bags/packages of snacks and junk food (chips, oreos, popcorn, etc.)
- Put out healthy foods/snacks (apples, bananas, oranges, protein bars, etc.) in easy to reach/easily visible places around your kitchen, fridge, office, work desk, etc., instead of candy or baked treats.
- Wrap your healthy foods in clear wrapping or casing (easily visible).
- Buy pre-cut fruit and ready-to-drink protein shakes to reduce “friction” from making the healthy choice. Use smaller plates and utensils (food covers more of plate = more perceived food; small utensils = less food per bite = eat slower).
UNHEALTHY → HARD
- Hide your treats in those weird, hard-to-reach cabinets above your fridge.
- Use aluminum foil to wrap unhealthy foods and/or store them in opaque containers. (e.g., take cereal out of boxes and put into opaque containers)
- Pay attention to what’s eye level when you open your fridge or cabinets. Make sure it’s not treats, snacks, etc.
- Wrap your healthy foods in clear wrapping or casing (easily visible).
- Set reminders for all the days you’re supposed to workout.
- Hire a coach so you risk losing time and $$$ for not following through your goals.
6. Workout Dials
The goal here is to improve your consistency by choosing the “good enough” choice when the “perfect” choice isn’t feasible. This will avoid the “all-or-nothing” mentality, which is more like an on and off switch. So we go from a switch, to a dial instead to find the middle ground.
To learn more about applying fitness dials and following a proven system to kickstart your fat loss, check out my free 7-day email course Frictionless Fat Loss → learn more here.
7. Nutrition Dials
Instead of either being “on” your diet or “off” your diet when life gets messy, you just dial your expectations down a notch to the next best choice.
8. The Big 3 of Alcohol
- Hard liquor (w/ zero calorie mixers) ⏤ Bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum are all good choices here to maximize drunkenness on the fewest calories.
- Pick one: alcohol, dessert, apps ⏤ This is a simple rule to balance calories and give your meal some constraints without too much restriction.
- Post-drink Prep ⏤ Your body metabolizes alcohol before food. So the food you eat AFTER you drink is extra important. Plan ahead.
9. Ranch Dressing Rule
Have your salad dressing on the side and dip your fork in the dressing first, then pick up your food to eat. This limits how much dressing you use, but you still get some with each bite.
10. Mindless Eating Ender
Think about popcorn, chips, nuts, cookies, etc. I know I’m not the only one who has demolished an entire row of Oreos without even thinking. Either buy the single-serving bags or grab a couple and put them on a plate or in a plastic baggy. It can be helpful to have a predetermined end point.
11. Using a “Weekly Calorie Budget”
Anyone who counts calories usually aims for a daily calorie target, but a weekly calorie target/budget can be another way to add flexibility to your diet while still reaching your goals. I’ve found tons of my 1:1 fat loss clients enjoy using this method because they eat differently Sunday-Thursday than they do on the weekend. By eating a bit fewer calories during the week, they can budget a bit more for the weekend.
12. Make each meal high protein, but rotate your carbs.
This is a simple way to reduce your total calories in a day without counting calories. This doesn’t mean that eating a meal with higher carbs and higher fat is inherently fattening, total calories still matter most for fat loss, but you’re likely to eat fewer calories by restricting an entire macronutrient at each meal.
Meal 1: protein + higher fat + lower carb
Meal 2: protein + lower fat + higher carb
Meal 3: protein + lower fat + higher carb
Meal 4: protein + higher fat + lower carb
13. Two pre-meal questions to ask yourself
- “What’s my protein source?”
- “What’s my fiber source?”
I tell clients to ask themselves this question when they’re at cookouts, parties, events, games, etc., when their food selection will be more unknown. If they can answer those questions and include both a protein and fiber source in their meal, I know it will likely get them closer to their goals.
14. Use supplements as “motivation catalysts”
The idea here is to use something as simple to do as popping a pill or drinking a shake to help create some easy wins towards our goals. Easy wins lead to momentum. And getting started in the right direction is often the hardest part.
Sometimes the best diet and workout plan in the world isn’t as motivating as buying a new pre-workout 🙂
15. (Almost) Never drink calories
Don’t worry, you’re not gonna self-combust into obesity if you drink a glass of milk or enjoy a mimosa occasionally. The reason this is popular fat loss advice is because liquid calories aren’t filling. 200 calories from apples is much more nutritious and filling than 200 calories from apple juice. So, when you can, avoid drinking your calories to help keep you fuller for longer.
16. Hunger Buffers
Here’s the situation: You’re an hour away from your lunch break, but your stomach just growled. You want to eat a snack, but you don’t have anything but candy. Since you’re on a diet, you decide to wait it out.
Lunch time comes and you’re ravenously hungry at this point. You brought your own healthy lunch, but the cafeteria cooked your favorite meal or maybe your boss brought in pizza. Your hunger takes over, punts any rational decision-making, and you give in, hoarding as much delicious food in your mouth as possible. (And you blew your diet. Again.)
This is where “hunger buffers” could’ve helped. You eat a snack that is just enough food to “buffer” your hunger until lunch comes. You’re still hungry, but you’re not ravenous, so you can make the better choice.
What kind of snacks should you eat? Glad you asked.
17. Emergency Snacks
These are small snack items you can keep in your car, at your desk at work, in your carry-on while traveling, etc. The main purpose is to always have them on-hand while dieting because hunger causes all rationality to go out the window. These aren’t “perfect” choices, but the point is to avoid big misses like ordering fast food or pizza simply because they’re most convenient.
- Beef jerky
- 94% fat free popcorn
- any type of peeled fruit (small banana, orange, apple, etc)
- Greek yogurt
- Protein powder
- Ready to drink protein shakes
- Protein bars
- Nuts and seeds/nut butter
- String cheese
- Unsweetened dried fruit
- Whole grain bread/bagel/muffin
- Whole grain crackers/pretzels
- Oat based granola bar
- Dark chocolate
18. Take pictures of each meal
I’m not encouraging you to become a food blogger or anything, but this is a nice hack for a few reasons.
- Taking pictures encourages awareness and mindfulness before diving into your food.
- If you want to track your meal after eating it, but you’re afraid you’ll forget everything in it, this allows you to snag a quick pic to refer back to later when you have more time to log your meal.
- To enhance the accuracy of your tracking. You can take “before and after” shots of your meal to better guestimate the calories. I’ve also had clients do this for me when they’re unsure on how to track a certain meal and they want me to double check.
19. Whey protein before your meal when cutting, and after when bulking
This hack is along the same line of thinking as the hunger buffer. Having a half scoop of protein powder before a meal when dieting will 1) give you a small bump in high quality protein for the day and 2) ease your hunger a touch without ruining your appetite.
When you’re focusing on gaining muscle and eating in a calorie surplus, it makes more sense to add in some whey protein after your meal. We don’t want to do it before because you want the biggest appetite possible for your whole food meals.
20. Using “if/then” statements
This is something you probably do from time to time without even realizing. It’s just bargaining with yourself.
“If I go lift today, then I’ll skip the gym this weekend to go out to the lake with friends.”
“If I eat a salad at lunch every day this week, then I’ll buy myself that new shirt I was wanting.”
Notice how I didn’t use food as a reward in the “then” portion. Occasionally, this is fine. But it becomes a problem when food becomes your only reward or coping mechanism. You don’t ever have to “earn” food.