Fit & Lean Lesson 20 - Diligent Fitness

Fit & Lean Lesson 20

Your challenge for the week: Eat Slowly and Stop at 80% Full

We’ve worked quite a bit on what you eat (protein, veggies, good fats) and when you eat (every 3-4 hours). This weeks’ challenge shifts the focus to how you eat, and how much.

It’s one of the secret weapons of the Fit & Lean. The problem is it’s so simple that most people overlook it completely.

Why it’s important to slow down

As a society we’re pretty rushed. There’s a lot to get done in a day, so minor inconveniences like eating tend to be done on the hoof.

The problem with eating quickly is our brains don’t get a chance register when we’re full. And by the time the stomach sends the message to our brain that we’ve had enough often it’s too late. We’ve overeaten.

Avoid overeating

Now, ‘overeating’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel stuffed (that’s the feeling you’ll get when you’ve eaten the right way to gain fat).

By ‘overeating’ I’m referring to crossing the line that -once past – stops your body burning fat stores for fuel.

Because any time you’re more than 80% full your body has a surplus of fuel from the food you’ve eaten and will always prioritise burning through that first, before it works on your fat reserves.

What counts as eating slowly?

To get started know that it takes at least 20 minutes for the sensation of satiety to get from your stomach to your brain. So ideally we’d want each of your 4-5 meals to take at least 20 minutes to eat, with closer to 30-40 minutes for larger/evening meals.

That’s what I’d recommend for best results.

But I can just feel your anxiety rising. “There’s just no way I can take 20 minutes to eat each meal!”

“I have to grab something I can just put in my face while I’m rushing out the house/driving/sat at my desk”.

And that’s cool. I get that it’s hard to make time for eating.

At the same time, it’s our role to challenge you to do the things that will take you closer to your goal. And then it’s over to you to decide how much of each challenge you’re willing to take on.

What’s a little better than you’d normally do?

If twenty minutes for each meal seems unrealistic to you then what is realistic? Set your own target to aim for. If you currently take 5 minutes to wolf down each meal start with 10 minutes.

Or if you don’t eat any of your meals slowly then just pick one – like the evening meal – that you can consciously practice eating more slowly and stopping at 80% full.

If you struggle to keep on top of eating slowly here are few situations I’d recommend avoiding:

  • Eating while driving
  • Eating while watching TV
  • Eating while surfing the net/working at your desk
  • Eating while listening to fast paced music (all you motorhead lovers!)
  • Eating when under pressure or stressed

And a few tips for eating more slowly and stopping at 80% full:

  1. schedule time for meals – where you can actually sit down to eat
  2. put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls
  3. chew each mouthful until liquified
  4. Serve a little less food onto your plate at each meal (or use smaller plates)
  5. Leave a little food on your plate at each meal
  6. If you’d normally go for seconds, develop the habit of waiting 20 minutes after you finish instead of automatically going for more food

Pick one of the above strategies and start practicing today

Bear in mind we’re trying to change habits you’ve had for a lifetime. So expect some resistance when you try to leave food, serve up smaller portions or take more time over your meals.

The head trash will try and make you believe it’s unreasonable to slow down, to stop before you’re full and generally be more connected to your body, it’s hunger signals and being able to understand it.

But keep working through this. Become aware of eating more slowly and stopping at 80% full and you’ll have mastered the art of controlling calories without ever having to count, track and measure every morsel of food you eat.

What we’ve learned

When you eat quickly you miss the cut off signs that you’ve reached 80% full. And stopping at 80% full is the best way to ensure you’ve eaten the right amount to keep your body in the fat burning zone.

When you’re distracted or in a hurry it’s easy to overeat. So avoiding environments that distract you from what you’re eating (and how much you’re eating) makes it easier to slow down and stop at 80% full.

So for the next 7 days I want to challenge you – at every meal you eat – to slow down and stop eating when you’re 80% full.

Pick a strategy (‘smaller servings’ or ‘leave some on your plate’) and let’s solve one of the biggest barriers that has been preventing your body from losing fat.