Do you find it hard to stick to a diet? Eat well all day, and then get really hungry at night and overeat? Stick to a diet for a few days and then fall off the wagon?
If this sounds like you there are a number of things that could be happening.
Firstly – your calories may be too low – meaning you can sustain the diet for a few days, but not long term. So many people do this when they start to diet. Dieting should be looked at over a period of time - enabling you to make small tweaks and adjustments without taking extreme measures. Losing weight this way becomes sustainable, it helps to create healthy eating habits, and ensures you make long term changes to your body composition. Extreme diets do work, but they very often aren’t sustainable in the long term, and often leave you in a worse position than when you started.
Secondly – your blood sugar management might be poor. What you eat affects your blood sugar levels – particularly if you have a carb heavy diet. Carbs aren’t bad for you, but if you eat too many and at the wrong times it can make your appetite more difficult to control because your blood sugars become more unstable. If you can keep your blood sugar levels stable you can control your appetite more, which makes it easier to reduce your calories and lose weight.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to eat protein, veggies/fruit, nuts and healthy fats through the day, and build your carbs in later in the day.
Picking the right foods also makes a big difference – fill up on fibrous veg – they have very few calories and will keep you full for longer. Pick lean protein over higher calorie processed meats, and be conscious of what you are eating. Nuts are really good for you, but if you eat a big bag of them or demolish a jar of peanut butter you will quickly undo any calorie deficit you might have created.
Making sure you plan ahead also helps – if you know you always snack at night and find it hard to break that habit, plan a healthy pre-bed snack that you can look forward too. I love to eat porridge, overnight oats or have a decaf coconut milk latte at night, so I save calories and use these as some of my carbs to help to keep me on track. Eating these at night also naturally increases my serotonin levels, which helps me to sleep better.
Find what works for you. You can eat a lot of food when you diet if you think about what you eat and when you eat it.