While being precise and scientific is generally the best way to go in terms of optimizing a meal plan and training regimen, I’m well aware of the fact that many people this simply don’t have interest in tracking their calorie/macronutrient intake. The “bad” news, for lack of a better term, is that you will still need to have some bearing on how much food you eat.
As mindless as some people want to be about tracking their diet, it behooves most anybody to have an idea of how much food they put in their body every day. This doesn’t just apply to people trying to be ripped and strong; it applies to all people. It’s not that daunting of a task to have a ballpark estimation of how much food you eat daily, and the more in-tune you become with your diet the less likely it is that you will have any major slip-ups.
The good news is that you can still certainly make great progress in the gym without being scrupulous about every morsel of food you put in your mouth, you just need to be conscientious of your food choices and listen to your satiety signals. Read on to learn more about the best way to do these things.
How Hunger Signaling Works
Various hormones and peptides that your body secretes act throughout the gut-brain axis to influence your hunger and cognitive desires for food. The main hormone responsible for stimulating hunger is ghrelin, which derives from the pancreas and stomach.
Shortly after you start eating food, hormones (specifically adipokines) such as cholecystokinin and leptin start to produce satiety/fullness signals that communicate with your brain to let you know you’re getting full. This is why you’ll often hear nutritionists say you should take your time when eating, because it allows your gut to communicate with your brain.
Being Smart with Food Selection: Simple Rules to Follow
Always include a quality protein source in your meals
- Aim to take in a generous amount of high-quality protein every time you have a meal (at least 3-4 oz., which, when cooked, is about the size of a deck of cards). For reference, this should generally be lean animal meats or animal-derived foods, so things like: chicken, beef, pork, fish, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, milk. If you’re vegetarian, emphasize plant and grain-based proteins like soy, pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp protein, etc.
Eat between 4-6 meals spread across the day, depending on what fits your schedule best
- This is rather intuitive, but try and spread your meals out across the day in a fashion that best suits your schedule and lifestyle. The main thing to aim for is having a relatively consistent meal pattern each day. This way your body starts to adapt to how many feedings you have and entrains that meal pattern into the brain. Essentially, you should subconsciously start to get hungry when you normally are about to eat a meal.
Foods to emphasize
- In truth, portion control (which ultimately dictates energy balance) will always be the main factor in determining whether you’re eating too much or not enough. That being said, if your diet has adequate vegetables, fruits, and essential fatty acids (along with protein, of course), then you have your bases covered.
- Carb sources don’t have to be strictly regulated, particularly if you’re not an actively competing bodybuilder. However, whole-grains and complex carb sources, such as sweet potatoes, oats, rice, etc. tend to be best for healthy blood sugar balance. After training, some faster acting carbs, like Cluster Dextrin found in CreRiboVOL is ideal.
- So long as you’re eating one to two servings of fiber-rich veggies with each meal, you should be getting sufficient micronutrients. If you’re not a fan of veggies, you’ll want to consider using HeartSolve and CardioSolve for the polyphenols and antioxidants.
Don’t be a glutton
- Ultimately, if you control your portion sizes, you should be just fine. Food source is secondary to quantity. If you want some pizza, indulge in a slice (or two). If you want a donut, you’re not going to die from eating one. Eating a dozen will have different ramifications, though...
General Tips for Losing Fat
Eat slow and stop right before you feel full
- The reality of the matter is that when you're trying to lose fat, you will unquestionably be a bit hungry at times. This is completely natural, your body is being underfed so it will send the signal that it wants more food. There are ways to combat those signals, so don’t worry.
Consume ample veggies (and some fruits)
- I understand veggies are not high on many people’s list of favorite foods, but they are indubitably damn good for you. If you start each meal with something as simple as a mixed green salad, you’ll get the necessary fiber and micronutrients your body needs to promote satiety and reduce the changes you eat too much.
Opt for more fats and proteins instead of carbs
- Carbs are not very satiating, at least in comparison to fat and protein sources. By lowering carb intake sufficiently and emphasizing fats and proteins, you will fill up quicker and reduce the risk of blood sugar swings (which can make you feel irritable and ‘hangry’).
Supplement with Exogenous Ketones to Control Appetite
- If you’re struggling to fight off cravings and hunger pangs while trying to lose fat, then your best bet is to supplement with KETOxygen. BHB salts are great for reducing your appetite and blocking hunger signals when calorie intake is low.
General Tips for Building Muscle
Eat until you are full, then eat just a bit more
- Naturally, if you want to gain weight, you will have to eat a bit more than your body may be hungry for since you’re aiming for an energetic surplus.
Sip water/no-calorie liquids between meals and don’t drink too much during meals
- Water can fill you up rather quickly when you’re eating and you don’t want to shortchange your growth potential by getting too full and falling short of nutrient needs.
- The best thing to do is drink most of your liquids between feedings and just take a few sips while you eat just to help with digestion.
Don’t go too crazy with “junk” food
- Some people, especially ectomorphs, can get away with eating a lot of calorie-dense, high-sugar, and high-fat foods thanks to their speedy metabolism. For most people though, it is best to avoid taking in large amounts of high-calorie foods even when trying to build muscle as this can lead to unnecessary fat gain.
While these tips may seem pretty straightforward, there really isn’t anything too complex about eating a healthy diet without being fastidious in terms of your macronutrient and calorie intake. After all, the whole point of not worrying about those things is to simplify your life.