How to Induce a Calorie Deficit “by Feel”
Written by Fritz Nugent

Our bodies constantly send us signals. Hot, cold, hungry, full, sleepy, wired, excited, drowsy…etc. These are all feelings that our bodies use to communicate with us, to urge us towards a specific action (eat, sleep, take a poop, etc.). Many of us outsource the reading of these signals to technology instead of trusting the feelings and learning how to act after experiencing them.

Here are two explanations as to why you might not be losing weight on your current plan.

I coach some people in the nutrition program who desire to lose body weight, but they haven’t lost a pound in a long time. They track their food and are sure that they are in a calorie deficit, but the scale doesn’t budge for months. How is this possible? There are two simple explanations. One, they are not tracking accurately, and two, they eat until they are full at each meal.

Our bodies crave homeostasis, meaning we like to keep things as they are, so if you are full and satisfied after each meal, you are not in a calorie deficit. Eating in a calorie deficit is difficult, mentally and physically. If you are eating in a true calorie deficit, for most meals, you will be a bit hungry afterwards. You won’t be able to eat until you are full, unless you stuff yourself with lettuce, but an hour later, you’ll be hungry again because the body is smart and quickly realizes that you didn’t get enough energy from that head of lettuce and is now asking for more.

How to read your signals of fullness if you want to lose weight.

At each meal, eat until you are 6-7 out of 10 full. Sure, you’ll lose more weight faster if you eat until you are 3 out of 10 full, or if you skip meals entirely. However, this is unsustainable, and ends with you uncontrollably binging on pizza and cheese and then quitting until next month. The key is to find a sustainable way to eat a little bit less than you need. Play around with fullness. Keep in mind that another incentive of losing weight slowly is that you can preserve more muscle mass. Losing body weight quickly can eat away at lean mass, which is never good.

How to read your signals of fullness if you want to gain weight.

At each meal, eat until you are 8 out of 10 full for meals during the day, and in your last meal of the day before your longest break between meals (for most people, this is dinner), eat until you are 9-10 out of 10 full. The concept here is to eat sustainably more than you need on a daily basis. If you eat too much more, eventually, your body stops sending hunger signals because it has plenty of energy. If you get to this point, you have eaten too much, and if you continue this pattern, you will gain much more fat than muscle. Once again, the focus should be on how you can move towards your goal sustainably. So ensure that you maintain hunger cues before each meal, and eat until you are mostly full but not completely full, so you can do it again the next day.

To achieve your goals, you must be disciplined and consistent. If you want help with this, email me. I am one of the coaches who runs our nutrition program and I’m happy to help you!

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