By: Calum McLellan, CISSN, CSCS, NASM-PESSports Nutritionist and Sports Performance SpecialistSpectrum Sports Performance
By now most people know what they should be eating and at what times, but may still need some little tricks to help them get past plateaus. None of the following “tips” should serve as a replacement for a solid nutrition plan of eating lots of nutrient dense foods, getting enough protein or as an excuse to binge on your “cheat meals”. These are focused rather on enhancing proper nutritional habits such as eating moderately sized meals, increasing the chance of satiety (fullness) or just some simple behavioral changes that can make a significant change in your body composition.
1) Use a smaller plate.
Empty white space left on a place makes the brain think you have less food than you actually do. Although the explanation is simple, research has shown it to work. By using a smaller plate, that same piece of grilled chicken and mixed veggies gets an instant portion size boost in your brain causing you to feel fuller faster.
2) Take your vitamins/fish oil before you eat your largest meal.
This is actually something I personally practice and find to be extremely effective. For me, dinner is my largest meal and I have found that if I take my multivitamin, fish oils, pro-biotic and vitamin D supplements right before I eat, I end up consuming a large amount of water in the process. Having what usually ends up being close to 16 oz of water and a handful of healthy supplements nearly makes me full – before the first bite! (Not full enough to miss out on my girlfriend’s delicious cooking of course.)
3) Add cayenne pepper to your meal.
If you like a little spice in your food you should definitely opt for this gem of a spice. Research has shown that it can boost your metabolism, lower cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods, and it also causes increased fat oxidation in the body. Even if you don’t like this spice, it’s going to be hard to pass up on all of those benefits!
4) Brush your teeth after meals.
This could be a great way to cleanse your palate after a meal and add closure as well. By brushing your teeth you are obviously going to see the oral health benefits, but you may also be more inclined to skip out on grazing immediately after cleaning your teeth with minty toothpaste.
5) Try intermittent fasting.
This is by far the most challenging trick, but it has been shown to have amazing benefits. In short, intermittent fasting is just the act of going long periods of time between meals — usually 24 hours. The benefits include:
- Increased fat burning (increase in fatty acid oxidation later in the fast)
- Increased metabolic rate later in the fast (stimulated by epinephrine and norepinephrine release)
- Improved appetite control (perhaps through changes in PPY and ghrelin)
- Improved blood sugar control (by lowering blood glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity)
Dr. John Berardi and his colleagues put together an eBook that goes into much greater depth if you are interested in cashing in on these benefits. He does suggest doing a trial fast first to see if this is something your interested in, which includes having your last meal before your fast day at 8pm and then fasting until 8pm the following day. This strategy makes it much more manageable as you never have to try to go to sleep when you are starving! Here is the link for the eBook
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