ICON Meals Catoring To The Competitor In Each Of Us
From Michael Mastrucci (@themacrodiabetic)
Two hormones have a major influence on energy balance: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin mediates long-term energy regulation and is responsible for decreasing hunger. Ghrelin is the yin to leptin’s yang, a fast-acting hormone that increases hunger.
When you’re cutting, putting your body in an intentional caloric deficit, the body’s subconscious response is to increase ghrelin which leads to cravings and hunger pangs. This is true even in short cutting periods. And if you give in to these cravings, your cutting will have been for nothing! Here are eight ways to counteract the body’s hunger response:
Black coffee’s caffeine content can blunt hunger. However, it’s not a panacea and I wouldn’t recommend downing a pot later in the day.
There’s nothing like watching your favorite show or a movie during dinner to help you chill out after a long day, and mild hunger can fade when our minds are distracted with entertainment. Take care to fully enjoy your food — chew thoroughly, swallow, set your fork down, take a sip of water. It’s not a race.
Some people have no trouble pushing their meals until later in the day, and fasting can be effective for fat loss — but it is definitely not REQUIRED. Before jumping on the fasting bandwagon pay close attention to how it affects your energy levels. There’s no reason to force your body to take on additional stress when already in a deficit.
If you’re finding your food a little bland, adding spices and other flavors can make it more palatable without adding excessive amounts of sodium or sugar — ICON Flavor Seasonings are a great example. Too much salt and sugar can numb taste receptors over time, leave you feeling hungry, and make lightly-seasoned foods less satisfying.
Drinking water is far better than eating more calories when maintaining a deficit. Most importantly, you need water to help regulate a vast number of physiological processes and stay healthy. Drinking water before and after a meal (and in between bites) helps to promote fullness and keeps your digestive system working properly.
Whole foods are your best bet for overall health. 200 calories of potato chips are mostly empty of valuable nutrition —instead, opt for veggies or micronutrient-dense foods to get far more bang for your caloric buck. Additionally, nutrient-dense foods often provide your body with better energy levels and can be much easier on digestion.
Going to bed hungry is a big pet peeve of mine, so I like to save the majority of my daily calories for the last meal of the day. This doesn’t agree with everyone, and that’s ok. After you’ve eaten dinner, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to starve. If you get those post-dinner cravings, drink water, stay occupied, and see how you feel in 20 minutes.
Sleep affects hormone regulation, and lack of it will put leptin and ghrelin out of balance. To prevent cravings and dips in your energy, your body needs to get full, complete rest. This is doubly important when you’re intentionally depriving yourself of calories.
8. Utensil Size
Psychological tricks can help us feel fuller without actually changing our food. Smaller silverware and dishes visually trick our minds into thinking our portions are larger and therefore more satisfying.
In today's society the physical and mental demands of our responsibilities don't leave enough hours in the day to get everything done. When we get overwhelmed with deadlines, errands, studies, and projects, proper sleep is unfortunately one of the first casualties.
Sleep is a crucial part of keeping ourselves healthy. As much as we try to "burn the midnight oil" and grind out extra hours to get things done, neglecting proper rest puts our bodies, minds, and emotions in a state of imbalance. This affects more than muscle recovery or mental clarity — it can even distort our sleeping patterns, hunger, and hydration signals.
What can we do to ensure we get proper rest when the world doesn't stop turning? Create a good wind-down or pre-bed routine that relaxes and de-stimulates our senses.
1. Natural Light & Morning Activity
Getting light exercise in the morning can help regulate your body's circadian rhythm and improve circulation. Getting outdoor activity promotes better oxygen intake and blood flow, positively impacting our health.
2. Caffeine Cut-Off
I love a strong brew or tasty energy drink to get the gears turning just as much as anyone else, but did you know caffeine can last in your system for up to 8 hours? This can easily cause sleep deprivation. Avoiding it after the morning hours ensures your body flushes it out long before you attempt to sleep.
3. No Snacks Before Bed
There's no question proper nutrition centered around unprocessed, whole foods helps your body get the nutrients it needs. Studies show opting for carbs before bed can improve sleep, but how do you expect your body to focus on rest when it's busy digesting food? Try to have your last meal at least 2 hours before you plan on sleeping to avoid digestion issues or sleep disruption.
4. Turn Off Screens
Blue light from screens suppresses our natural melatonin production, which can easily mess with our sleep. Certain devices and apps have implemented “night mode” to reduce blue light, but it's still a good idea to minimize your screen time at least an hour before bed.
5. Cool Dark Space
Our body temperature needs to drop to get a good night’s sleep. A cooler room promotes deeper sleep, and for most people about 65 degrees is the sweet spot. Light coming through windows can prevent your brain from winding down, so keep your bedroom completely dark with blackout shades/curtains and eliminate all forms of light when trying to sleep.
Our minds are constantly thinking, focusing on tasks that need to be done in the future. This can keep us tossing and turning when we truly need rest. Relax physically and mentally with a stretching/yoga routine and a mental stillness practice like meditation. This ensures we transition to a state of rest. Alternatively, writing down tasks you need to complete the next day can potentially remove anxiety about them.
Quick fixes are often our first instinct, rather than taking the healthier route — simple lifestyle changes. Even something as widely accepted as melatonin supplements can be detrimental. In very small doses (0.5mg) melatonin may be beneficial. However, people often take up to 10mg which seriously derails their natural melatonin production, especially when taken habitually.
Taking drugs to counteract poor sleeping habits is like eating fast food every meal and taking a fat burner to lose weight.
That being said, there is one supplement I highly recommend: “Lunar” by Legion Athletics. I’ve been taking it for years and it always helps give me a good night’s sleep. It helps me fall asleep faster, easier, and deeper. Lunar’s dosage has been formulated by scientific research and has minimal impact on natural sleep patterns. For me, taking it 3x a week maximizes its effectiveness while allowing my body to maintain its natural chemical balance.
Clean Bulking Vs. Dirty Bulking
Track Your Nutrition
Leverage Your Carbohydrate Intake
Keep Healthy Fats In Your Diet
Train Hard And Heavy
Back Off On The Cardio
Get Enough Sleep
Struggle sleeping through the night? Or maybe, even getting to sleep is a challenge?
With so much emphasis on morning routines, I’ll be the first to say a bedtime routine is even more important to ensure great sleep.
You need around 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Any less than 6 and fat loss becomes harder, cravings increase and your brain feels foggy, leading to impulsive decisions, like running through the McDonald’s drive-thru instead of packing a wholesome breakfast.
Here’s how I turn my brain off and wind down for bed, starting an hour before I hit the pillow:
Set boundaries. Listen, I know how hard it is to see those email notifications pop up on Sunday night from your boss, but you are off the clock. Act like it. The same thing goes for families looking to spend a little more quality time together. Put your devices on the chargers an hour before bed, and don’t grab them until the morning. Tell your friends and family you’ll no longer be available ahead of time so they hold you accountable.
Put your phone away. The most important might be the hardest, especially if you are winding down, catching up on social media or sharing memes with your friends (we all do it). I like to set my phone on the charger an hour before bed to prevent blue light near bedtime. If you work late at night, I recommend buying blue light blockers.
Turn off the TV. I’m the first to admit I love watching Riverdale before going to bed, but reading or listening to a podcast will allow you to drift away from the “present” and relax.
Drink something warm. I find cozying up with a warm cup of tea or decaf coffee makes me feel nice and relaxed. This also helps with late night snacking. If you struggle with stress in the evening, I recommend taking Natural Calm, which is just magnesium, which helps keep cortisol levels under control.
Set yourself up for a calm start. My mornings start with 5:30 a.m. spin classes, bootcamps and personal training, so I don’t have time for a “routine”. I like to lay my clothes out the night before, get my supplements in order, Keurig on and ready so I can wake up, grab and go.
Taking the extra time to ensure a proper night’s sleep makes for a more productive tomorrow.
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