Ever notice that when things are complicated, tedious, or generally not fun, the likelihood of quitting is higher? When it comes to diets and healthy eating, having to count calories is all of those things. Nobody feels like tracking, measuring or weighing every little thing they eat, but the good old law of thermodynamics (calories in vs calories out) is often hailed as the king of all weight loss rules.

I am a huge proponent of keeping things simple; finding something deeper and more meaningful than just “lose 10 lbs” or “fit back into my skinny jeans” to motivate you, and above all, injecting some enjoyment in to the process. These three things increase the likelihood that you follow through and see results drastically.

The three easy tricks I have for you today will eliminate the need to ever count calories again, yet still get you results. Whether you’re seeking fat loss, more energy, or to address any other diet-related disease or illness, try these tricks out for 30 days and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

These tips are mostly inspired by my nutrition training through Metabolic Effect, founded by Dr’s Jade and Keoni Teta, authors of The New ME Diet.  

Trick #1: Follow this simple Label Rule for anything with a label

Reading labels can be one of the MOST confusing (and misleading) parts of healthy eating. We get distracted by words like “natural” “healthy” and “wholesome.” We even assume that just because something is vegan or gluten free that it’s healthy. This isn’t always the case. The Label Rule outlines the only three things that actually matter: Total Fat, Sodium, and Hormonal Carbs.

Total Fat should be less than or equal to 15. Lower numbers are better and you want to avoid foods with hydrogenated oils, trans-fats or mostly saturated fat. Foods that have higher mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3 oils are best.

Sodium content should be less than or equal to 200mg. Foods with lower sodium numbers and higher potassium numbers are better.

Hormonal Carbs. This is where the genius of the Metabolic Effect approach shines. Unlike the calorie counting approach to losing weight, focusing on hormonal carbs prompts your body to shed fat specifically.

You’ll hear people say “muscle weighs more than fat”, but that’s not true.  Five pounds is five pounds, regardless of what it’s made of. Muscle is more dense that fat though, so it takes up less space. Picture a five pound brick versus a five pound pillow. Get it now? To calculate Hormonal Carbs you subtract Dietary Fiber (including any sugar alcohols) and Protein from the Total Carbs. Choose foods with a Hormonal Carb value less than 15. Lower numbers are better, and negative numbers are best. This means you’ll get the energy you need from the food, but you won’t be left with excess sugar that winds up getting stored in your body as fat when you don’t burn it off. Another great book on this topic is Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes if you’re interested!

Carbs are not in fact the enemy—it’s just the amounts and frequency with which we consume them that cause problems. Here’s a visual example:

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Trick #2: Eat according to this ideal plate at every meal

The thing I love most about this trick is that it makes eating out EASY. Most of us are pretty good at eating clean in our own little controlled environments at home, but toss a menu into the mix and give us a few naughty options and it’s bad news bears. Once you know what your plate should look like at every meal, you can use this as your barometer when eating out-unless you know ahead of time, it’s a treat meal…in which case, go crazy! (and tag me on Instagram @lizdialto and let me know, I love treat meals!!)

The ideal plate is made up of half veggies (the greener the better), a fist sized portion of lean protein (if you’re a veggie, then beans, tofu, tempeh etc. count for you), then just five to ten bites of carbs. The bite rule is what protects you from having to count calories in this trick.

Remember in Trick #1 how I said carbs aren’t the problem, but rather the amount of carbs? Sticking to 5-10 bites of carbs that fit the label rule puts you in the sweet spot for fat burning instead of fat storing. Here’s an example: it’s a portion of grass-fed steak and a big salad with mixed greens, quinoa, strawberries and balsamic dressing.

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Now I know what you’re probably thinking because clients give me this objection all the time “only 5-10 bites?!” When you follow this rule you can actually eat more food, it’s just more food that’s better for you. All we’re doing is shifting around ratios on your plate.  More protein and veggies, less carbs. Side effects of eating this way include: fat loss, weight loss, more energy, better looking skin, and frequently allergy and digestive issue symptoms clear up, too.  So give it a try—you’ve got plenty to lose.

Trick #3: Eat your protein and veggies first, save your carbs for last

The reason for this is simple: protein and veggies are the best things for you on your plate and they’re more satiating. By saving your carbs for last, you give yourself a better shot at feeling full at the end of the meal and not over eating.

Food is at once the most amazing and annoying part of our lives: What 500 Calories Really Looks Like in Different Foods

Featured photo credit: jonolist via Flickr

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