Losing weight is incredibly simple.
All you have to do is take in fewer calories than you burn and BAM!
Well…in a perfect world it would be that easy, but we're human.
There really isn't any black magic, ancient secrets, or well guarded methods only used by celebrities to achieve single digit body fat, but so few actually accomplish the task.
Anyone can write out or download a diet that will ultimately lead to weight loss.
But the fact is that the vast majority of these diets fail.
And that's because they fail to account for appetite control!
Our appetite, whether influenced by habits, social cues, effective marketing, or genuine hunger is the beast that must be tamed before lasting weight loss can occur.
Once you master appetite control, getting and staying lean becomes much more doable.
Sure-fire appetite control methods
Over the years, I've discovered a number of methods that have helped me achieve vascular abs and quads (mostly from making mistakes that left me feeling ravenous and depressed).
So my tips below are more about teaching you proper appetite control rather than simply shouting nonsense like, “Stop eating so much, fatty!!!”
That type of approach has never gone over well with me.
If you're overweight, you're fully aware of the fact and you know eating less should be the focus of your efforts.
So fear not and follow these 10 tips to make losing that weight so much easier than you've imagined.
SIDE NOTE: Just in case you happen to be at the other end of the spectrum and can't seem to eat enough, appetite stimulation is your number one hurdle.
But don't worry, I've got you covered in my Skinny Guy's Guide to Gaining Weight.
1. Skip the carbs early in the day
I love low-carb diets and in the past have followed them strictly for over a year at a time.
But I've found that they aren't a necessity for fat loss, only one of many tools.
However, we can definitely draw from some of the more impactful aspects of manipulating carbs, as I'll illustrate now.
If I have carbs for breakfast, I'm rarely satisfied at the end of the meal (regardless of how much I eat) and spend the rest of my day preoccupied with dessert fantasies.
But one single morning of skipping carbs in favor of protein and higher fat can turn it all around.
My go-to low-carb breakfast is a massive egg and veggie scramble.
I'm working with a client right now who was a self-proclaimed sugar addict.
He confessed to me that he's been “binging on candy every night like I'm 6 fucking years old!”
He was also concerned that he would need constant reinforcement to kick the habit.
But after one week on a very low carb diet, he has zero sugar cravings and feels fully satisfied on two meals per day.
How's that for appetite control?!
If you don't want to go full on low carb, just skip the carbs during the day, hit the gym in the afternoon, and eat all of your carbs in the evening.
2. Delay your first meal
If you're restricting calories (if you're losing weight you most certainly are) it's best to think of your food allotment like a daily paycheck.
Do you feel good if you get paid on Friday and spend every dime over the weekend?
Of course not.
You end up feeling miserable, deprived, and depressed for the next five days. It's agony!
But switching that around and being conservative with your money on the weekend will allow you to comfortably and confidently splurge towards the end of the week.
The same applies to your daily calorie allotment.
By knowing that you have some wiggle room, you'll cruise through what was formerly the difficult period and be able to thoroughly enjoy your evenings.
If you eat the bulk of your calories or a specific nutrient too early in the day, one of two things will happen:
- You'll either hold strong and stick to your plan, but be absolutely miserable and resentful of “dieting” in general.
- You'll just say “fuck it” and eat whatever the hell you want, eliminating the benefit of watching what you eat in the first place.
Instead of torturing yourself, have some BCAAs (I like these) for muscle preservation and additional appetite control before heading out the door and wait to eat until lunch time.
To help you survive comfortably until lunchtime, also try to…
3. Drink black coffee (or tea)
Despite being lean now, I still have the appetite of a heavyweight.
I'm almost never completely full, no matter how much I eat.
But certain timing and combinations of food and drink can crush my inner fat kid.
I haven't taken home food from a restaurant in several years, but on a recent impromptu dinner out with my wife and daughter, I took home half a chicken sandwich and most of my sweet potato fries.
Because I hadn't planned on eating at that time and had just polished off a pot of afternoon coffee while I was writing.
Even though it had been almost five hours since my previous meal and I had a gourmet sandwich in front of me, I simply wasn't hungry.
Coffee is by far the most valuable appetite control tool I've ever found, especially if you're trying to eat less frequently.
To implement this tip, try drinking a cup (or more) of coffee about two hours before your next meal.
You'll find that just as you start to get hungry and are contemplating eating early or gorging on junk, the coffee will stamp those thoughts right out.
Tea is also good for this task. Although it doesn't have quite the same impact on appetite levels as coffee, it packs a host of health benefits.
4. Drink water with meals
When you drink water on an empty stomach, it quickly moves to the intestines and is absorbed, having very little effect on fullness.
When you're eating, specifically meals containing a good amount of fat or high volume fibrous foods, your stomach is shut off from your intestines so it can do its job in the digestion process.
Drinking water during mealtimes helps fill your stomach and contributes to appetite control.
Ever notice how incredibly gross you feel at a parties where you're snacking on cheese and sipping on drinks all night?
That's the combination of fat and liquids filling your belly.
Having a pint of water with a big meal will eliminate the need to go back for seconds and should quell the desire for dessert.
5. Don't skip the fat
It's easy to want to go super low fat (thus low calorie) with your food choices while dieting.
If losing weight were a simple math problem or we were fueling a robot, this technique would work wonderfully.
But again, we're human, and eliminating all dietary fat from even a single meal can leave you extremely hungry, even if calories are sufficient.
You don't have to go on a high fat diet, but for the sake of appetite control, every meal should have some fat content.
The amount will depend on your total fat intake and number of meals per day, but 10-20g should do the trick.
Trust me – if you walk away from a meal feeling wholly unsatisfied, it's going to set you up for failure (or at the very least, major agitation) later in your day.
6. Eat fewer but bigger meals
Let's face it, if you have significant body weight to lose, you're a big eater.
And I know how you feel.
Sitting down to a tiny meal is basically worse than not eating at all.
Seeing, smelling, and tasting food stimulates hunger, so not having the meal in front of you is one of the better tools for appetite control.
I'm a delayed gratification kind of guy, so I would rather eat fewer meals and spread them out and be able to eat until I'm satisfied.
Eating less than say 500 calories does more harm than good for my hunger levels. And that's right around the number I would have to hit if I were eating 6 meals per day.
In contrast, if I eat 3 meals per day, they can each be around 1,000 calories.
That's twice as much awesomeness per meal for just a little bit more willpower.
Decrease meal frequency to just two per day, Intermittent Fasting style, and things are looking even better.
I can have 1,000 calories for lunch and basically eat whatever I want to make up the remaining 2,000 for dinner.
Saving your calories also lends itself to being better able to accommodate social situations.
It's nice to not have eaten four or five meals by the time someone invites you out for food or drinks.
7. Whole foods are your best friend
Both this entire container of greens and a single teaspoon of sugar have 4 net grams of carbs.
When trying to minimize hunger on very few calories, there isn't room for calorie dense foods that do nothing for appetite control.
If you're hungry near the end of the day, you could choose to eat a serving of oatmeal OR some candy.
Both have similar macro breakdowns, but which is going to leave you more satisfied?
The best thing you can do for weight loss is to learn to like whole foods.
Opt for whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and leafy greens every opportunity you have.
I, myself, enjoy having a massive salad before dinner and like adding a ton of veggies to my omelets.
Hell, I even like to snack on raw veggies while I'm cooking for additional appetite control.
For those of you who don't like eating vegetables, try eating them first thing during your meal when you're super hungry.
That way your brain gives veggies all the credit for satisfying that hunger.
And that's a really important mental connection to make.
8. Take a break
A huge part of why we overeat is because we sit down to an extremely large meal and don't so much as look up from the table.
Delicious foods stimulate the pleasure center of our brains and releases feel good hormones.
Then our bodies and minds go into a sort of primal frenzy.
Our bodies are designed to store calories in times of famine (in the form of body fat) by taking full advantage of calories when they present themselves.
The problem with modern life is that we have the opportunity to feast for roughly 16 hours a day, but most of us will never see famine.
The natural balance simply isn't struck.
So it's up to you to interrupt the feeding frenzy instinct and initiate this appetite control tactic.
When you know you've had plenty to eat but don't feel full at all, take a break.
Get up to go to the bathroom, take the dog for a quick walk, or go to the kitchen and straighten up a bit.
Within a couple minutes, these survival-based hunger urges will have subsided and you're no longer at a high risk for overeating.
9. Avoid liquid calories
For the love of God, if you have a big appetite, don't “spend” your precious calories on juice, soda, or girly coffee drinks.
You are setting yourself up for failure by drinking calories that do absolutely nothing for appetite control.
Best case scenario, beverages like orange juice and sweet tea will encourage your sweet tooth, leading to decreased willpower down the road.
Even diet soda, though zero calories, primes you to crave more sweets and carbs later.
And unless you're running a marathon or partaking in two-a-day football practices in the August heat, there is no reason to even look at a sports drink.
This is one of the best health and fat loss changes I've ever made.
The old me used to grab two or three cans of soda from the fridge as I sat down on the couch to a dinner of an entire frozen pizza.
Now it's mainly water and black coffee for me.
10. Know how much you're eating
Just as skinny guys don't eat nearly as much as they think, overweight men eat far more than they realize.
Before you can even think about appetite control, you need to know when it's important to implement the other techniques.
I can ballpark the nutrition content for almost all foods, but when I'm out at a restaurant and see that they've managed to squeeze 65 g of fat into two fish tacos, I become genuinely pissed (so I created this healthy recipe).
It's incredibly easy to overeat and not realize it, even if you're making a conscious effort to be strict.
Adding some condiments to your meal, grazing on the office cookies, and having a meal at your favorite pub will have you on the fast track to “spontaneous” waist expansion.
Unless you track everything you eat (at least for a while), you'll never be able to figure out your maintenance level so you can eat slightly under that.
Tracking your food also teaches you to evaluate food choices and will equip you with the knowledge necessary to not only lose weight, but to keep it off in the long run.
I've been tracking my food intake for a very long time and I'm still shocked at how calorie dense some common foods are.
Really guys, getting lean doesn't have to be complicated.
It doesn't have to decrease your quality of life.
You don't have to turn down every social invitation or avoid holidays and family gatherings.
Yes, it's going to be difficult and it's going to take willpower, dedication, and self-awareness.
But this truly isn't an impossible task if you employ the right tools and stay consistent with their application.
Follow the methods I've laid out and take what is a foolproof plan on paper and make it your reality.
To give yourself the best possible chance of success in your weight loss endeavors, start with just a few of these tips.
Allow yourself time to acclimate to the changes and then incorporate as many additional techniques as needed until you're crushing your goals.
And most importantly, be consistent!
You've got this.
All the best,