By Harry Barnes |
PT, Ante & Postnatal Instructor & Lower Back Pain Specialist
Binge eating is definitely a tough fight to conquer, with the ability to damage you both physically and mentally.
Today, we’re going to share 8 methods you can implement right away to help prevent any over-indulging, and allow you to conquer your fat loss goals and create healthy habits you can maintain for a lifetime.
Let’s get started!
#1 – Eat Foods You Love (Including Junk)
This may sound a little odd, but consistently eating the foods you overindulge in, can help to maintain a good caloric intake…Hear me out.
A study published in 1999 by Smith, Williamson, Bray and Ryan on Flexible vs. Rigid Diet approaches showed that having greater flexibility and more enjoyment during low calorie periods can help with adherence whilst dieting. 2
Now I’m not recommending that you consume 80% of your calories in the form of sugary cake every day, but giving yourself a 20% budget for foods you love each day, will ensure you hit both an adequate and balanced nutritional intake along with plenty of enjoyment from your food. 3
There really is a middle ground when it comes to dieting.
Going cold turkey on your favourite junk is going to lead you straight back to the cupboard for copious amounts of food, whereas a couple of hundred calories worth of chocolate isn’t going to leave you with little calories left for real food and it’s also going to satisfy your cravings properly.
Why not make some satiating, high-protein versions of your favourite snacks, e.g.:
✓ Protein peanut butter cheesecake
✓ Alternatively, keep convenient, ready-packed snacks on hand, e.g. protein brownies
#2 – No Severe Calorie Deficits
Dropping calories excessively low is a guaranteed route to binging.
When your stomach is empty, ghrelin is secreted into your system to signal for hunger. 4
Ghrelin has the opposing effect to leptin (the hunger hormone). Leptin helps you to feel full after a large food and calorie intake (carbohydrates and protein have the most satiating effect and the biggest leptin spike) 12.
Consistently under eat and you’ll sky-rocket your hunger as nutrients and energy intake plummet, making those late night binges even more tempting and hard to resist.
#3 – Consume Enough Fat
The institute of medicine recommends we consume 20% of our calories from fat to ensure an adequate and healthy hormone balance. 5
Dietary fats also help to slow down digestion and help to signal to the brain that we’re full, via chemicals in the bloodstream! 3
For a little extra satiety between meals, aim for 20 – 40% of your daily calories from healthy fats for a prolonged sense of fullness from your meals.
✓ Nuts/a tablespoon of nut butter on a banana
#4 – Consume Enough Carbohydrates & Fibre
Studies shown that an increased intake of fibre can create satiating effect, particularly from supplementation. 6
Aim for plenty of fibrous foods within your diet such as:
✓ Wholegrain carbohydrates
✓ And/or a psyllium husk fibre-based supplement for additional satiety.
Carbohydrates also have a great effect on leptin (the hormone responsible for helping with hunger), making it a key reason to consume plenty of carbohydrates each day!
Don’t be scared of carbs – stick to dense, fibrous carbs rather than the likes of bread and sugar carbs such as cakes and sweets – this will only lead you to crave MORE!
#5 – Consume Enough Protein
Similar to fibre and carbohydrates, protein helps with both satiety and leptin outputs, making you feel fuller for much longer. 7 & 12
Studies show we need an average of 0.8 – 1g of Protein per lb of bodyweight to ensure we don’t drop any muscle mass during low calorie periods along with sustaining a sense of fullness 8.
✓ Lean chicken and turkey, red meats, eggs and egg whites
✓ Legumes and grains, nuts, green-leafy vegetables
A great quality protein powder can really help with hitting your protein needs (especially if you’re a heavier gym-goer, needing a higher protein intake). Try Whey Protein for a fast-acting protein, ideal to reach your muscles quicker post training. Alternatively, Micellar casein protein is slow-releasing, ideal for a snack before bed – especially if you like something sweet at night!
#6 – Avoid Overtraining
Excessive training can lead to feelings of extreme fatigue and stress. 9
If you feel continually tired and unsatisfied with your meals (even after a larger calorie intake), take a few days rest and taper down the training intensity, especially if you’re weight lifting heavy numerous days per week. 9
If I ever reach a point of over-training, I’ll simply reduce my weight training intensity and volume (sets and reps) to approximately half my normal routine, increase my calories to around the sum that will maintain my weight, and ensure I get adequate sleep. 7 – 9 hours is the national sleep foundation’s recommended amount for most adults. 13
#7 – Don’t Let Weight Fluctuations or Plateaus Discourage You
Stuck to your caloric intake to the letter? (Come on, be honest).
Chances are you maintained your current weight from the previous week due to water retention.10
Stress on the body from a calorie restriction can cause water retention (masking weight loss) due to Cortisol spikes (our ‘stress’ hormone), covering up your hard earned weekly fat loss. 10
A huge spike in sodium can also cause water retention, causing possible ‘weight gain’ and bloating. Don’t fret; it’s simply water retention, not additional fat or a weight loss plateau. 14
Stay true to your calorie intake and you’ll steadily even out any weight fluctuations, returning to a stable (and steadily dropping) body weight.
#8 – Create a Plan & Track Weight Loss
Lastly, creating a long term plan is vital to success.
If you’re not tracking things, how do you know where you stand in terms of progress? A realistic number of calories to burn each day is 20% below your maintenance calories. 11
Calculate your maintenance calories – be sure not to go excessively low. You won’t drop weight quicker, you’ll simply cause hormone issues and an increased likelihood of binging like there’s no tomorrow. 11
At 20% below the number of calories that maintains your weight, you’ll drop a comfortable 1 – 2 lbs per week. So, set a target number of lbs you’d love to lose and work out how many weeks it will take to achieve, tracking your dietary compliance and weight loss each week, making adjustments as needed.
For example, you may be losing weight too slowly, so you’ll simply adjust your calories down accordingly.
Alternatively you may find that you’re losing too much weight (and potentially muscle mass) and need to increase calories to a more comfortable energy deficit!
Take home message
Remember, dieting doesn’t have to involve months of gruelling and restrictive meals. Flexibility and adherence is the key to long term fat loss. If you don’t enjoy your current eating routine, it’s probably not going to last
These tips are merely to help you prevent any occurence of over -eating: it is important to reach out for help if this is very frequent issue. It may seem difficult – but please don’t worry, it’s more incredibly common than you think!
If you don’t enjoy your current eating routine, it’s probably not going to last.
So be kind to yourself and permit a few hundred calories of whatever you’d like each and every day to ensure you don’t fall off the dieting wagon.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.