Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Have you "trained" yourself to eat more than you need?

I have been trying to gain mass & strength recently, so I have been chowing down extra food to achieve my goals. Before this, my goal was to lose fat, so I was careful with my food and only ate according to what I needed. It was pretty strict, but I lost weight pretty quickly. But now I am eating more carbs & proteins to allow me to lift heavier in the gym which ultimately translates to more muscle as well. So far so good in terms of achieving these goals. I am sure most of you will be going “Wow, eating more…that’s easy enough to do.” Well contrary to pupolar belief, I initially found it difficult to actually eat more food. I kept getting bloated and uncomfortable after my meals. The reason was, my body was used to a certain amount of food, and trying to push it above that took some getting used to. Perhaps I should have done it more gradually then I actually did. The other thing I am guessing is, my body is not used to the sudden increase in carbs and my already sensitive stomach took it pretty bad.

But now that I have been eating that way for awhile I am used to it. And then it got me thinking. For those who are overweight, you have actually trained yourself to eat that much food. So when it comes to cutting down that food, you are obviously going to feel it. It’s like trying to lift heavier weights in the gym for the first time. If you are used to benching 100 pounds, going up to 110 pounds will be difficult intially. But if you keep at it, you will be benching 110 pounds just like how you used to bench 100 pounds. Just like you trained yourself to eat so much food, now you have to train yourself to eat less food. It’s that simple.

Whenever I hear comments like “Oh, you don’t understand… I have a big appetite and its not easy”, I don’t buy it for one second. Sorry, your appetite is big, because you have trained it to be big, just like someone has big arms, because he trained his arms to be big. So, how do you train yourself to eat less? Well, here are some simple tips to help you train yourself to eat less.

Eat slowly
Most people tend to overeat because they eat way too fast. Your brain takes some time to notify you that it is full and tell you to stop eating. But if you eat quickly, by the time your brain sends the “stop I am full signal”, you have usually already surpassed your “actual” full limit. So learn to eat slowly. A few techniques come in handy. For one, put your cutlary down while you are chewing. Most of us are busy scooping up the next mouthful while we are chewing to create the continuous stream of food. Make it a point to put down your fork and spoon while you chew, and only pick it up again once you have swallowed. This slows down your eating process and you will find yourself almost automatically eating less, which will translate to weight loss. Another thing you can do is to chew slowly. This also helps to reduce your overall eating speed.

Eat till you are not hungry and stop
Most of us tend to eat till we are full or stuffed. Wrong technique. Eat slowly and pay attention to your hunger level. Once the sensation of hunger subsides, make it a point to stop. Don’t eat beyond that. You do not have to be full or stuffed to have enough food. Once your hunger disappears, stop eating. This only works if you follow the previous step. When you feel full, you have actually consumed more than you are used to. Eating till you are full all the time is essentially training your stomach and appetite to accept more food. So stop pushing your appetite to newer heights by being full all the time. Learn to train it for less.

Don’t skip meals
Here is what happens when you skip a meal. When its time to eat your next meal, you will tend to binge and overeat to compensate for what you missed out. Not to mention, skipping meals is not an effective strategy for weight loss, so there really isn’t any reason to do this. The best technique is to of course eat a small meal for every 3 hours that you are awake. This way, your body has a constant flow of nutrition so you can avoid binge eating and you will also eat less because you are not saving up your hunger and unleashing it after many many hours of starvation. So don’t skip meals and if you can, eat every 3 hours. Here is where its handy to have small things like muesli bars or fruits around so you can chew on that when its not convenient to break your 3 hour fast with a proper meal.

Do it gradually
Make it a point to reduce your food slowly. I have seen so many people get excited about losing weight, cut down their food by half, see amazing results for 2 weeks and then suddenly quit altogether. Why? Because it was too drastic and they just couldn’t sustain it. Just like how you can’t go to the gym and bench press 225 pounds on the first day, its not advisable to drastically drop your food intake overnight. Ever hear the saying" slow and steady wins the race"… yeah, because its 100% true. So be cautious / aware of how much you are eating and progressively reduce it from time to time. A good benchmark is to reduce it every week or every 2 weeks. So cut it down by about 10% and then a week or 2 later, cut it down by a further 10% and so on. But you have to be consistent for all your meals and not just cut down 10% from one meal a day.

So what is your excuse for eating more than you need now? We now know that its just a habitual thing that has been developed over years of training, and now its time to train it to accept new amounts and that is basically what you are doing here. Try it out for yourself and see. You will be amazed with the results you get. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

PS: Please take a moment to vote on the latest poll.


Aizan Suhaira said...

Damn! And I really thought it was an entry on how to eat more :P

Rajan said...

Aizan: he he. Sorry to disappoint you. But that is a good idea though. Maybe i will cover it in another post. How to gain mass.

Kasey Brown Fitness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajan said...

Kasey: Good tip. Just read your blog and left a comment. its hilarious. couldn't stop laughing.

PS to all readers. My sincere apologies... for some reason the poll / survey isn't working. I've tried deleting it and adding it in again, but it refuses to work. Will try to fix it up soon.