It’s the New Year and the number one resolution on most people’s list is to trim their waistline and lose a few pounds. After a festive holiday break, it’s easy for the pounds to add up. The natural tendency is to want to completely overhaul your eating habits and exercise routine to kick-start your weight loss. Unfortunately, more than nine out of ten times this strategy fails.
The answer is much simpler than you think. It’s not about finding the best new exercise regime or trendiest diet, but rather transforming your old “bad” habits into new “good” habits that promote weight loss. Small changes in the short-term add it up to big results in the long run and the New Year great time to get started (when motivation is high!).
If you read Weight Loss Resolution #1 post, I hope you woke up this morning and had a tasty low-carb breakfast to set yourself up for the day. (If you didn't, read this post and get started tomorrow!).
Today, we’re going to add Weight Loss Resolution #2 to your list. Are you ready? The new habit I want you to develop is to stop snacking while working at your desk. That’s right, no matter how healthy your snack may be, I want you to abstain from food while working.
Snacking at your desk becomes a habit and while you may be making the right choices in January (e.g. veggies, nuts, grass-fed jerky, etc.), as stress levels increase over the year and your deadlines mount up, your snack choices will trend to more convenience and sugary treats (e.g. cookies, baked goods, milk chocolate, etc.). Before you know it, you’ve ingrained a pattern or habit of craving a tasty treat every afternoon to overcome busy days and low energy. (Learn more about negative impacts of "distracted eating" in this article.)
You may be thinking… “what about the article I read about the benefits of eating lots of small meals throughout the day”, doesn’t this increase my metabolism? Like most things in life, the answer isn’t black and white.
The research does show eating multiple small meals throughout the day can indeed boost metabolism, however they must be high protein meals and you must maintain a negative caloric intake. 1 This is very difficult to achieve in an office where most people don’t have chicken breasts, steaks and salmon fillets tucked in their desk drawers to snack on. In fact, most people don’t realize the research shows overweight individuals can often trigger greater weight loss with fewer meals, rather than constantly grazing throughout the day.2 (Remember, you still need three meals a day, as dropping to only two will slow metabolism and hinder weight loss.3)
This New Year, ditch the snacks at your desk and focus your energy on eating three “high-quality” square meals throughout the day (e.g. high protein, fat and veggies with modest amounts of “slow” or complex carbohydrates). You can have coffee, tea or water at your desk between meals as caffeine helps to curb cravings, but try to limit coffee to before noon and caffeinated tea to before 3h00pm. If you’re really struggling with cravings, get up from your desk and have a small snack – veggies, nuts, or piece of fruit - in the employee break room or outside.)
This New Year, make your resolutions count. Start small and build one positive habit at a time. Before you know it, all of these new habits will set you up for long-term success and a better body this year!
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS
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1) Arciero PJ et al. Obesity (Silver Springs) 2013. 21:1357-1366.
2)Cameron JD et al. Br J NUtr 2010 Apr;103(8):1098-101.
3) Smeets A, Westerterp-Pantegna M. Br J Nutr 2008 Jun;99(6):1361-21.