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The most effective mindset and tips for fat loss [podcast]

Categories: Videos & podcasts

This podcast is packed with practical tips to lose fat. Bill AKA Dr. Swole and I had a great talk about diet psychology and how to implement a fat loss diet. I think almost everyone will get a lot out of this one, especially if you haven’t read my book on how to stick to your diet yet.

Time stamps

  • 1:19 How to set up your first fat loss phase
  • 4:44 Meal plan vs. IIFYM
  • 8:33 How to deal with hunger in a diet
  • 15:29 Dealing with cravings
  • 18:10 Snacking
  • 28:39 Self control
  • 32:22 Can discipline be trained?
  • 38:17 How to change eating habits
  • 41:11 How to eat out
  • 49:23 Transitioning out of a fat loss phase

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Transcript

This is an automatically generated transcript of the podcast.

yo what’s up Dr swole here MD Pro physique athlete back with another episode on Soul Radio say I have Menno Henselmans back in the show he is a very well-known coach author and

uh author of a personal training course and as well as scientific researcher in

the field of fitness and today we’re going to be talking about fat loss as well as Meadow’s last book the signs of

self-control which is going to be a really interesting topic today thanks for being on the show pleasure as

always so yeah this is going to be aimed a bit towards more General

audience more so I feel like I feel like on this podcast I talk a lot toward you know more of the

advanced bodybuilder where you’re kind of assuming this person is like a robot and will like hit everything absolutely

perfectly can wake up every day and you know have everything weighed on a scale and not miss a beat but I think that

there’s a lot of people who are just kind of getting started with the whole thing and are don’t know how how to

start and I was thinking we could bring a lot of value to those people and I think a lot of people even bodybuilders

will benefit from this kind of chat about psychology of dieting and that kind of stuff so yeah I was thinking

just to open up Meadow when you are taking on a beginner client and say they are

setting up their first cut what’s kind of your approach in terms of you know setting up the diet

well one big decision at the start is where you’re going to do macro tracking

or limits on dieting typically I will earn on the side of micro tracking especially if someone’s

highly motivated because any phase of macro tracking will be incredibly useful

for the future of any of their dieting success whether they’re going to track their macros or not because it creates

calorie awareness and another big decision is

that you have to you have to decide how all in you want to go and typically

research finds that it’s good to err on the side of going quite all in like being quite aggressive with how many

lifestyle changes you want to make and the more motivated someone is the more

changes they can sustainably make in their lifestyle at once but it’s generally good to make big changes

because research finds that when they make short-term success that creates

essentially faith in the process it shows them okay if I do these things I get the desired result and then the

entire discussion simply revolves around how am I going to do these things rather than is it actually working what if this

alternative approach so that is really useful and it’s just motivating to get short-term results of

course so I generally like going quite all in and treating them quite as maybe already a sort of intermediate

lifter and just throwing them in the Deep a little bit in terms of and then seeing you know how are they doing if

they’re really struggling of course they need more help maybe you say okay let’s focus on these things first but I do

think a lot of coaches go to the baby step too much you know and there’s some

good research on speaking of diet psychology the Pygmalion effect which is that if you treat someone in a certain

way that also influences their self-perception so this is a classic from classroom experiments where they

find that if you treat a student as a bad student or as a student that look we know that Johnny’s never going to

graduate but he has to sit in with the rest of the class then Johnny internalizes that and Johnny thinks well

okay I’m a bad kid I’m a problem kitten and he’s going to act like a problem kid and it’s the same with dieting when you

have a client and if you’re like well okay you know we know that you’re you’re super weak we’re we’re not going to be

too difficult now just baby stepping one at a time and they’re gonna be like Oh I’m gonna have all these problems this is going to be super difficult whereas

if you’re saying look I know you’re a competent individual you’ve you know you’ve achieved good things in your life you’re

you’re an adult that’s this is how we’re gonna do it and we’re gonna do it as best as you can and then we’ll see how

it goes and then if they struggle then they’re gonna be like oh okay so let’s we’re running into these issues we’re

gonna fix these and that’s what I’m here for this is the coaching yeah no I really like that about

treating people like they’re really serious because yeah I definitely have

noticed that uh when you kind of half-ass things or go into things with uh like oh we’re just kind of playing

around here that you end up not being as committed so it’s interesting to hear about that kind of line of research

what do you like to approach the diet in terms of like diet plan versus If It

Fits your Macros approach like would you give them how structured will you start them off with

I always emphasize food choices I think that’s very important if you’re going with an a little bit some approach maybe

you you only do food choices but typically I will give macros and food choices and if they’re like a ranked

beginner I may just tell them look stay under the calorie budget try to go over the protein minimum so basically you

have a minimum amount of protein that you need to get in and there is a maximum amount of calories and that’s that’s it you have to stay somewhere

Within These ranges so get your protein in without exceeding your calories and then you give them a lot of food

choices and I really emphasize that those are the key biggest behaviorally speaking changing the food choices and

changing what someone perceives their internal menu what you know foods that they eat that is the key to long-term success

whether they can operate on a certain set of macros that is more the the behavior the skill that

they’re doing right now but that’s not the actual Behavior change because they can essentially short-term suffer and

just eat less of whatever they were eating before and add some scoops of whey protein but that’s not gonna lead

to sustainable lifestyle change mm-hmm yeah and in terms of the If It

Fits your Macros you know some people will talk about um like the benefits of making decisions

ahead of time like with you know setting some sort of meal structure what are your thoughts on that definitely I mean

meal planning is incredibly successful there was a recent study

where they essentially try to kind of disprove the benefits of meal planning and show that flexible dieting

is better and I don’t remember the exact details but it was essentially one group had a meal pad it wasn’t the best meal

plan which is like very rigid like this is the plan you have to stick to this exactly and the other group was just given

macros and some guidelines I think which is more how you know flexible dieting is typically practiced these days but

actually they found the diet adherence and a psychological psychological aspect of the diet we’re all very similar between groups because it’s so

beneficial to have a meal plan to have structure and consistency in your diet and to have a plan so that you don’t

have to think about Foods when you’re hungry it’s so beneficial that even excessive rigidity

is typically not detrimental at least not as detrimental as not having a plan so that and if you look at research even

on Slim Fast and diet replacement products it basically shows that even a very bad meal plan is still very

beneficial like almost any study where they compare any type of meal plan versus

not having a little band or any other type of intervention the meal plan wins in terms of diet adherence because it’s

just so beneficial to have a structure to know what you have to eat ahead of time and like I said not making

decisions when you’re hungry the worst is when you come home after work you don’t have a plan you’re hungry you’re

tired you just want to eat something now and then you have to decide oh am I going to the supermarket to buy broccoli

and prepare it and cook the rice and the chicken and make that doesn’t happen exactly or am I just going to order a

pizza or grab something at the snack store next door or whatever you know it’s just too tempting

mm-hmm yeah I think that’s yeah very valuable and definitely something that I find helps a lot when I’m in contest

prep where things really get you know serious hunger because most of the time I don’t struggle that much with Hunger

but in contest prep it becomes an issue and it’s like yeah having those you know meals and containers all ready to go

just heat them up uh really makes a difference

yeah and then I want to get a little bit more into kind of the psychological and self-control aspects of things

do you have any general tips on people for dealing with hunger

a lot hunger management is is crucial Hardware management is one of the the

most important skills because if you look at the the predictors of diet non-adherence of diet failure in

research hunger is quite consistently one of the top ones and very often the

top one if you think about it it makes perfect sense that hunger is the reason that

dieting is difficult hunger is the primary physiological stimulus that incentivizes

you to eat something and now if you weren’t hungry you could simply choose to be on any type of diet that

you wanted and it would just be a matter of execution So Hunger is the reason it’s difficult hungry is fundamentally

what what drives you astray it’s the feeling that’s giving you short-term

temptation to default on your long-term diet plans and therefore I think that hunger

management is absolutely vital for any diet success and it’s also why food choices are so important because one of

the most important things for Hunger management is food choices not calories calories have surprisingly little

influence on Hunger a lot of people have this idea that when they when they’re

dieting they’re in energy deficit and their body is like a clock or a meter or something then it’s like oh energy is

low therefore hunger no it it uses a lot of cues and many of them are actually

psychological and some of them are physical to to give you to estimate essentially

if you’ve eaten enough and you can manipulate this system in large part by just having lots of nutrients and a good

overall diet lots of foods without having to go over your calorie allowance

so one of the big ones are high protein diets by fiber diet

and generally unprocessed heart Foods so few liquid calories are I typically

recommend zero liquid calories just water coffee tea diet sodas if you want

and like I said hard foods with with texture or viscosity if they’re like semi-liquid

foods like Greek yogurt like the thick kind that’s really beneficial and foods with a low energy density so

research strongly finds that you like very roughly speaking if we ignore all the psychological sites we just focus on

like the very basic psychology now hunger is in large part regulated by pressure receptors in the the stomach

and the digestive tract and it’s it’s like a certain amount of area that we have and the more full it is the more

pressure it is on these receptors and the greater the sensory inputs for the brain to say okay we’re full literally

full like we don’t have space anymore therefore cool it with the hunger we’re done

and you can manipulate this process by just having foods with a lower energy density typically you find that if you

replace for example rice with potatoes which a lot of people think are like equivalent but actually it’s like

twofold difference in energy density you eat the same amount but

you dramatically reduce your energy intake and if you reduce full fat meat with semi-fat meat or even fully lean

meat then there’s also very little difference in how people how much food people consume like they still consume

say 300 grams of the food but they end up with a much lower energy intake so having lower energy density

Foods is crucial for appetite management and then yeah then

there are a multitude of psychological factors for more like Advanced um appetite management but those are

like the super super basic ones like protein fiber low energy density unprocessed or minimally processed foods

with like actual texture yeah I think that’s huge and it’s

interesting how I think there’s this kind of public belief that you know the

eating certain foods will make you fat like people will say oh I can’t touch rice because I’ll I’ll blow up if I

touch rice and I think they’re while the that isn’t like completely true there is a lot of validity to food choices as you

said where you know maybe taking a spoon of rice won’t make you gain a lot gain weight but for some people perhaps if

price is relatively high calorie density for you and doesn’t you know you don’t feel as satiated with it you might end

up eating a lot of it right I like and consume a lot of calories that way rather than if you had say like fruit or

vegetables or some other substitute and I like that point about the texture

as well or I feel like that’s a bit of an underrated point that I kind of kind of got into with contest prep where you

kind of noticed that like oh if I eat like carrots for me are very very satiating because they’re low energy

density and they take a lot a long time to eat you know you’re crunching through them and like that true ability

sort of yes it’s actually directly related to society the the mastication

so chewing on something is is directly related to the feeling of societies there’s research indicating that the

amount of chewing itself generates a society signal which it just goes to show how indirect the body is like it

really has no idea how many calories you’re consuming it uses all these super indirect signals and funny enough that’s

why chewing gum is quite beneficial for society because yeah you’re you’re masticating

you’re you’re forced to chew a lot on something and the body doesn’t really realize that there’s there’s nothing going in it’s just programmed to okay

lots of chewing we we must be eating a lot mm-hmm

is there like an index for that like in terms of textures of food or anything I

don’t know just a out of curiosity like is there maybe a list of foods that people can look up basically the harder the better harder

the thicker the better for society with semi liquid or liquid Foods there’s

viscosity which but you know most people aren’t really aware and I’m also not aware of any index that’s index Foods by

viscosity it’s like it’s like how thick it is you know like if you have Greek yogurt or Scare Quark whatever

and you you can turn itself upside down and it doesn’t fall out because it’s just so thick that’s highly viscous

that’s that’s the good stuff for satiety at least yeah and if you have the stuff that’s in the Netherlands they have

really good as in tasty Greek yogurt but it’s actually not that satiating because it’s it’s literally indistinguishable

from yogurt biological quark and Analysis it’s so good it’s it looks like yogurt it tastes

like yogurt looks like yogurt or close to it at least but as a result of that it’s actually not that satiating anymore

because it’s too liquid mm-hmm yeah yeah yeah I like that and I

on a related note things this is pretty similar but how about dealing with Cravings like say someone has a has a

huge urge for ice cream yeah Cravings are a topic where there

are a lot of misconceptions about the most important thing to realize worth craving is what exactly it is and

again it’s good to realize that there’s no such thing as a physiological craving

like there’s nothing inside the body that says we need chocolate you know there your body doesn’t have a concept

of chocolate it doesn’t have a concept even of um specific Foods or even micronutrients

macronutrients in the form of a certain food just register stubble inputs in some way or these processes are

regulated but basically it just registers hunger and then your minds gives that hunger a certain mental

representation so if you’re like a classic example I give in the book is if you’re walking through the street and

you smell bread which is literally this why Bakers make Breads in a way that produces way more smell that is actually

necessary to produce the bread because because that smell of bread when you’re hungry is like the brain is hunger smell

of breath oh I want bread so it’s it’s a mental representation that’s being filled with like hunger is

like a gap and that needs some form of like a representation in the brain

which which can be anything and that’s what a craving is is when that representation of your hunger is now

very strong in a certain way but you have to realize that it’s not that food you’re just hungry and it’s

that specific food that you’re interested in right now and if you’re gonna eat it it’s often

actually makes the craving worse so typically the best strategy for Cravings

the quality given the book is the best way to kill a craving is to starve it because even very restrictive diets

often actually work out best in practice in contrast to the idea of um forbidden fruit effect and you know

you eat a bit of the chocolate and you’re good yeah that’s good for like five minutes and

you know it it’s very much like alcohol you know like if you want alcohol or if you’re an alcoholic or

um any kind of drug having a little bit is not the way to to cure the addiction you need to you don’t necessarily need

to go all cold turkey but you need a long-term plan to reduce your intake and it’s the same way with Cravings like

the best diets typically are the ones that actually restrict the food and make you not eat it and then preferably in a

way that gives you a choice rather than just being like you cannot eat this because

yeah nice I’m imagining Cravings is like some little monster that you’re locking in a in a cage and starving it

and then another big thing people struggle with is snacking how do you address that

yeah snacking is in large part a combination of appetite management and

having a good plan I think snacking is very destructive and research typically shows that it is indeed very bad for diet adherence

people that snack or let’s call that eating at an unplanned time are much

less successful in the long term than people that eat only at their plan times and there’s also of course a little bit

of a discipline component here where if you people just if people are not aware that snacking is so detrimental they can

do it whereas if you tell them look you can just wait a few hours and then you can eat and this technique is very

useful um episodic future thinking it’s called from the psychological literature it’s also

good to ward off Cravings whereas if you want to eat something now you actively visualize what you’re going to eat next

like what’s your next plan is if it’s 4 pm you have a meal at 6 PM we’re already hungry then think of your meal at 6 pm

and really think it’s okay if I come home I have to Tupperware already all I have to do is put it in the microwave I

know that’s good I like it it’s nutritious high protein it’s good for me it’s satiating and I’m gonna eat that

and I’m going to be happy and that really helps with dealing with the feeling of hunger and the Cravings

right now because it shifts your emphasis on the future and also tells you you know essentially what the

solution already is whereas a lot of people have this idea of I have hunger and it’s a feeling and

they need to act on it and one of the core aspects of Behavioral psychology and CBT

cognitive behavioral therapy is that you realize that the emotions you have are just that they’re just emotions just

feelings it’s not something that you have to act on if you’re hungry if you have a craving if you want a snack

it’s just that is your body producing a signal it doesn’t even have to be motivated by actual physical hunger maybe you’re just like I said smell

bread maybe you saw a coworker eat something maybe you’re just bored maybe it’s something else that you’re actually

interested in your brain just creates craves some form of pleasure often it’s not even food related and it’s it’s your

choice what you want to do with these emotions have to act on it that the mindfulness is incredibly useful and if

you combine it with episodic future thinking and just having a plan knowing what you’re gonna eat and making sure

that if this happens you also think of okay why am I hungry in the first place it means okay if I’m hungry at 4 pm and

I have lunch at 12 then my lunch probably needs to be more satiating so you need to go back on these factors that we discussed earlier to see if you

can make your lunch meal more satiating so that in the future you don’t get that hunger and then one last thing I’d add to that

is that big reason giving into your snacking urges is detrimental is because

it entrench your buyer in them in the wrong way your body is used to your body generates

the sensation of hunger at predictable times when it kind of expects food or

more precisely when it’s entrained to eat so if you always eat at 4 pm you get

hungry at 4 pm I remember when I was like bro eating every free meals because I I had this

idea that I need to eat at least six meals a day I would eat free every three hours on the clock and I could literally tell the time by

my level of hunger yeah if I was hungry I was like oh it must be three hours and yes it was always within 30 minutes

is this because your your body is just completely trainable if you always have breakfast you get hungry in the morning if you never have breakfast you lose

that hunger to a certain extent at least and if you snack and if you’re always going to stack say midnight snack or 4

pm snack whatever then your body is expecting food at a time you’re gonna be hungry at the time so you’re not you’re

maybe curing the short-term problem hunger but you’re creating one for the long term because now you’re going to be hungry every time at that time yeah

that’s hilarious because I have the exact same thing like the great thing about being in Radiology is that for the

most part you’re you know working with a computer so you can eat whenever you want and you know I’ll have my second

lunch at like 4 P.M and like follows at like 3 58 or like 4 P.M on the dot I’ll

be like have this huge sudden Spike of hunger like I wasn’t even hungry like 15 minutes before but then on the dot and

the other weird thing is that if I don’t eat like if I somehow donate

like this last month I’ve been working on procedures so I’d be sometimes I’ll be doing complex stuff like the other day I did a vertebroplasty which is like

injecting cement into someone’s spine um but um like if I somehow missed the

meal for like if I hold it off for like 30 minutes the hunger off should go away like it’s like your body’s like oh

where’s the 4 pm you’re like well I guess it’s not coming yep that’s also a super good realization for

people that much of that hunger is is just that the entrainment of the biorhythm so it’s not

really that raw hunger yeah so you can actually kind of dispel it I have it a lot in the mornings if I wake up

especially if I haven’t slept enough I often wake up hungry but I know that I don’t need to eat and if I just ignore

it it will go away because I’m usually not hungry at all in the mornings if I’m well rested yeah and I really like what you said

earlier about recognizing that hunger is is almost like this or the urge to snack

in is almost like this feeling that isn’t necessarily grounded in a biological need always and I think that

people assume that when they’re hungry they like they need to eat it’s never going to go away there’s nothing they

can do about it whereas when you start seeing it from like as an observer or

almost like detaching yourself from that feeling you realize that yeah there are other

things that could be coming to play like what you said about often hunger is like or snacking or eating something is

almost like this pleasure um experience that people sometimes use if

they just use as a crutch or use as something to like tie them over and sometimes like I’ve definitely found

that if I’m really bored I’ll often start thinking about food even if you

know I don’t really need more calories yes I like the um I think a lot of

people have too much of them they listen to your body in the most direct way and

I like to tell my clients like are you gonna listen to your body or are you gonna make your body listen to you

because if you just listen to your body all the time like basically meaning you’re gonna

act on your emotions instantly all the time that’s how people get fat that’s literally it’s like you’re if

you’re hungry you see food you want to eat it like the body is very primitive we have not evolved for our modern

climates of hyper balancable Foods available at our leisure so it just it sees Pizza it eats Pizza it’s like I’m a

simple man you know that’s that’s your mind so it’s it’s

actually very detrimental to always listen to our body there are certain cues that are good but it’s more like

I like to think of in general in psychologists you are inside your body and a big part of living and optimizing

your body is figuring out how it’s actually working and what it means like you have a certain feeling okay that

it’s that it’s their certain feeling and you can think am I going to ignore it am I not gonna am I gonna act on it

am I not gonna act on it what happens what I do what happens if I don’t and you kind of learn how your body is

actually working and along the way you can become better the better you understand it the better you can control it

mm-hmm yeah and you spoke a bit about eating mindfully

you know and the power of mindfulness do you have any tips on that mindfulness is super important for

eating there are lots of studies that show that in general eating less mindfully and faster

results in higher energy intakes because the brain is literally processing or registering the food that

you’re eating so if your brain is distracted meaning if you’re focusing your attention elsewhere then on the

foot then the brain is literally not processing the information it sounds almost too silly it sounds like Bro

Science you know like your brain is distracted but actually that it literally is how it how it goes if

you’re on your phone if you’re on your laptop multiple studies show you eat considerably more if you’re in company

if you have uh social relations you eat a lot more and

they’re also predictable effects of who you’re with and what what their sort of ideas of what a normal portion is if

your portion size is is very large then that also creates kind of an expectation effect of how much you should be eating

if you eat faster is at least if it’s less mindful whether eating speak or

Shea matters I’m not entirely convinced of but generally in the literature that is the trend

then you you eat more so the the faster and less mindful you eat and the more

distracted you are the more you eat for the same level of satiety and that’s key

because when you eat you’re not just eating to shove something into your body and then

you’re done it’s it’s not that mechanical it’s not biological it’s just you’re eating to satisfy the feeling of

hunger that should be the goal of eating primarily like because because as we discussed if you’re not hungry anymore

then you don’t have to eat it’s you’re dumb then after that if you want to eat or you can but it’s just a conscious

decision but up until the point that you’re still hungry at least you’re going to be faced with either you’re satisfying that feeling or you have to

ignore it which is often at least causes some discipline or requires some self-control negative feelings

so essentially the more mindful you become as eating the more you focus on your food safer every bite and really if

you think about it that is the goal of eating right savoring the food other than that if you’re not going to enjoy

what you eat then you might as well just only eat broccoli and the most healthy stuff because if you’re just you know

foolish fuel then why bother with any type of taste yeah and I think that this is this is

really exacerbated in today’s culture where we have so much media at our

fingertips like everyone is always you know on Netflix or like watching or on their phones while they’re eating right

and it’s very it’s easier than ever to just kind of eat distractedly definitely

shifting gears a little bit more into the psychology aspect could you talk a little bit about the

you know self-control with diet and how that might be manipulated

sure so the self-control is another one of those things where it’s very important to have a model of what it is

and how it works and essentially what happens when your self-control fails is

that you’re paying attention to something that is not causing a lot of instant gratification and then there’s a

part of our brain called the anterior cingulate cortex the ACC that is involved in both the registering of

reward and the focus of attention those things are intricately linked inside our brain

so it’s very easy for us to focus on something that’s providing reward and it’s a lot more difficult to focus on

something that is not providing instance gratification and self-control failure is essentially

the interior singular cortex determining okay this is not doing anything for us so let’s put our attention to something

else self-control failure is essentially very similar to boredom it’s essentially

meaning that whatever you’re doing now is not making you happier therefore the

brain is Shifting your attention away to something else and that’s almost universally means that your attention

shifts from a have to go to a want to go so you have to read something for your

college you have to follow your tax reports or you think that you have to

um read a book that you for history because you want to be more intellectual and but it’s not something that’s

inherently giving you pleasure and therefore the brain at some point says uh look uh that Facebook icon or

that’s that’s hamburger over there I see is somebody eating that looks Mighty appetizing right now we’re going to

focus our attention on that and that’s what your self-control failed or essentially your attention wanes to the

more instantly gratifying uh thing in the environment or even just inside your mind

yeah that’s a that’s that’s a perspective I hadn’t really thought about but I I absolutely see it where

when you are shifted when you when you when you’re out of that like necessitis frame then you that’s when your mind

really opens to all these kinds of little side paths towards you know

things that you weren’t planned to do exactly because if you are doing something and that’s also what the the

standard model of self-control like Baumeister ego depletion model which is like that’s just kind of a fat inside

your brain and when you’re exerting self-control it’s just slowly emptying

and when it’s gone your self-control is is out you’re in ego depletion the model cannot explain why if you’re doing

something that you love or if you’re a video game something that’s very

addictive or a conversation with a really good conversation partner so maybe your loved one that is not going

to cause your attention to just wait so all of a sudden in the same time period you can be in flow a psychologist call

it and you can focus on that for basically indefinitely

and there’s no self-control failure in that point so essentially motivation and self-control failure are intricately

linked if you’re doing something you like something you love or more generally something that your brain is perceiving as rewarding there is no such

thing as self-control failure mm-hmm yeah I think that yeah just

speaks to you know the importance of having a lot of you know keeping busy and like putting a lot of fill in your

life with a lot of things that you enjoy doing that uh you can take your mind off things when you’re dieting

definitely people then talk about discipline

um Can discipline be trained so it actually cannot there’s a lot of

direct research on self-control and discipline even to the point of the kind of artificial studies where I

literally just try to have people do very effortful self-control discipline

requiring tasks screw tasks puzzles things that typically result in very

quick self-control failure because they require a lot of attention and really not fun to do if you could like complicated mental puzzles that really

don’t achieve any purpose counting backwards from a thousand to one uh just boring stuff that it’s very

difficult to keep your attention on and universally pretty much the research finds that any

improvements are very specific to the trained task and they don’t convey over to any other type of task it

makes perfect sense because as we discussed self-control failure is not this this vat that is emptying we would

then you could think if self-control is like a muscle which is not that’s the old outdated model then you could make the muscle bigger or you could make the

fat bigger but there’s no need for that because there’s something that’s emptying it’s just a matter of the

perception of reward that is um causing your attention to shift to another goal so

there is also no need to train your self-control that is the upside of it and typically it works better to

cultivate habits and discipline in the sense of having a plan having habits and

as a result of that not needing to rely as much on self-control as trying to literally train the self-control

yeah this yeah this was something that is my curiosity because I feel that it’s

very it’s this very like entrenched notion that you know discipline is is like this you know um

you have this like jar of it that you like can Dole out but then you can also

increase the size of the jar kind of thing where yes if you think about it if

willpower work like that like discipline was something that would train with like a muscle then you would expect people

that have a lot of dieting failure experience to have insanely strong willpower and self-control but you

consistently see that it doesn’t work just just trying harder doesn’t work you need a better plan you need habits you

need to change your lifestyle just trying and then trying again it doesn’t work that’s why we see the yo-yo dieting

all of these phenomena if you’re not dieting the smart way it’s just really really hard and it’s not going to be

sustainable for most people without sustainable lifestyle change like making your diet more satiating implementing

these tips that we’re discussing right now if you’re not doing these things you’re going to fail over and over and over

again because evidently your self-control is not becoming more powerful

yeah this is definitely something where yeah in contest prep you find yourself like you rely a lot on your habits and

kind of the structure of things you’ll see all these success gurus and maybe other athletes talking about discipline

and how like you have to train it like a muscle what do you attribute their success to

then I think that there is because self-control is not inherently like

physically limited and there is a lot to the the sense of self-efficacy and to

Placebo and no sibo effects and research on that is it’s very clear that if you believe that your self-control is

unlimited like the literary of experiments where they ask people like do you believe in this ego depletion model and some people are just like nah

that’s nonsense and these people perform much better on self-control tasks than

people are like oh yeah no that model totally applies to me I know that if I’m

you know I can feel my self-control waiting at the same same with low blood sugar like I could feel one high flow

blood sugar also nonsense you can’t feel that unless it’s like really a medical concern but in most experiments when

they actually measure people do that uh they objectively don’t have low blood sugar when they think that they do and

it’s the same with self-control like because there is no such thing as physically limiting you in large part it

all comes down to the mind so if you tell people with that they need more discipline they’re training their discipline and I

think that’s in large part is also applies to all these cold shower things now and waking up at 5am in the morning

I don’t think these things have a lot of physical effect and waking up early is probably actually a bad idea if it costs

you sleep but if you wake up in the mic you wake up at five and you have the mindset of I’m gonna kill it today and I

wake up to five because I’m a bad mofo and you know nothing can touch me then if you have that mindset you’re gonna

perform a lot better your self-control isn’t gonna weigh easily whereas if you’re like at 11 you’re like ah snooze

and then 12 snooze and it won’t snooze and then you wake up and I’m like okay I’m a lazy failure I’m not doing

anything in life I can’t do anything then yeah you’ve already defeated yourself

well tips from Menno bad mofo Henselmans

yeah yeah no I like that wear a lot of it is how you frame things and

you know if you yeah like I’ve always I’m glad you brought this up because I’ve always kind of

disagreed with just be these people saying like oh I’m gonna get up at four P like 4 a.m and then I’ll train myself

to get up at 3am you know just just for the sake of getting up and you know

putting yourself through the ground two months I won’t need any more sleep at all yeah exactly foreign

yeah and that brings me to the other you know thing that we’re talking about which is habits where I think that once

you realize that you can’t just rely on self-control like you can’t just drop me in an ice cream factory and say like

okay you’re gonna live here for the next two months while we put you through contest prep or whatever

what do you go about getting people to change their eating habits

habits the best way to change a habit is actually to replace it typically

you can because the thing is when you actually have a habit and people use this quite generally in the sense of

something that they don’t like to do like and they’re in the habit of doing something but when it’s actually a habit it uh it happens involuntarily in

response to a queue so if you have the habit of snacking in front of the TV and then

you may barely be aware that you’re eating like you’re watching TV and if there’s any type of foods in your

environment you’re just going to grab it and eat it and you’ve barely realize that oh I’m eating that is really a habit right if it’s

like any other type of behavior it’s it’s not necessarily habitual so it’s more like a colloquial sense of a habit

and then just planning Etc or all that we talked about it by there but for actual habits you typically cannot like

erase the habit so it’s it often works better and the recent review that’s concluded is based

on multiple studies that it’s easier to replace a habit than to really try to

eradicate it because if you have that habit of snacking while you’re you’re watching TV

then it’s very difficult to just tell yourself like I’m not gonna do it or

um it just mind over matter because it happens in large part subconsciously so

you need to plan you need to see okay can I either avoid the queue well it’s

if you’re watching TV then you could not watch TV but let’s say that you don’t want to do that then that’s not possible

so you cannot avoid the queue in other situations that that is actually very often useful then you can

change the behavior that’s triggered by the queue so instead of snacking on bad foods you could snack on Good Foods now

even better is to make it something that doesn’t have calories maybe just water or gum you could you know chew gum while

they’re watching TV and that way you’ve successfully dealt with

the The Habit Loop like a queue triggering an understandable Behavior without having to eradicate the whole

Loop because that’s super difficult whereas just replacing the behavior or eliminating the queue is a lot more

effective differently yeah I really like that model where you think about the Habit Loop and realizing

that you can like surgically go in and replace a certain part of it like if you yeah like the watching TV triggers you

to want to eat so if you replace that with yeah like having a healthy snack like

um some fruit or something or chewing gum that you can still kind of

give yourself that um that you know almost like the reward of

the Habit Loop without having all the calories with it

and then yeah like how do you change people’s you know eating patterns when

say they have the habit of having a lot of like very high calorie foods or say like eating out with a lot of oily or

you know fried food and all that well with social eating and with eating

events in general out of the house a big part again comes down to planet because

if you’re gonna go to some restaurants and you don’t have any plan you’re going to be hungry then you’re putting

yourself in a very bad position and it works much better to try to avoid

that that bad situation rather than you know trying to work on your

um like working working on your self-control or your discipline in these situations it has very limited Effectiveness because you can’t actually

train that as we discussed so it works better to a make sure that you’re you’re in a

comfortable position so don’t don’t be hungry by the time you go out but often Works super well is to

have like a big bowl of soup for example and Umami flavor is particularly good because it has free glutamins which is

one of those hacks that actually seems to work if it improves self-control to

have free glutamate and it also induces the feeling of satiety so something like tomato soup or mushroom soup those are

really good there’s a high free glutamate foods superstation low in calories if you have like on my website

I have a three minute tomato soup it literally can be made in three minutes and if you have like a bowl of that

maybe that’s 100 calories but then you arrive at the restaurant and you can eat more for the sensation of to be there

with the company and The Sensation of nice food rather than being like Oh I’m starving I need to fill

um you know I need to fill myself up and then if you’re going to do that with pizza they’re gonna eat so much more and

the interesting thing is that because the feet the the goal of the eating is to satisfy the sensation of hunger

and not to just you know shuffle down or it’s not like you’re shuffling happiness into your body although

sometimes it may feel that way and the ends it because the happiness originates from

this uh the the satisfaction of the satiety research finds that people that end up

equally satiated and are equally happy so if you consume a lot of soup before

you go out then you have a lot less pizza maybe you you order just a small one instead of a big one you end up with

far fewer calories and you end up equally happy and that is the key parts to realize you’re not

sacrificing anything by doing this you’re probably also cheaper off because you don’t need to order as much food and

like and you’re not going to be hungry so you feel better you can focus on the company it’s just a win-win scenario

another big thing that helps is to plan because planning is always the key to

success like what’s the Churchill Roosevelt fake Churchill um failing to plan this planning to fail

that is true for dieting in almost every scenario and also when going out a lot

of people have this idea as oh I’m I’m successful whenever I apply my food but I cannot be successful whenever I go out

well because you’re not planning in these scenarios it doesn’t matter if you’re on holiday or going out with

friends you can still plan you can have a look at the manual forehand you can have a say where are you going if

they’re suggesting some crappy hamburger place where all they have is french fries hamburger McDonald’s burger whatever then talk to them beforehand to

say look that’s not my uh my thing I would like to go to some other fan even better be the first to suggest hey I

found this new grades place where they have whatever high protein lean food that you want or something

so just being a part of the conversation and planning what you’re actually going to eat looking at the manual beforehand

making these decisions when you’re not distracted with people around you noise

and hunger is so much more successful and also it’s going to make you make

more rational better choices yeah I love that where you know thinking

about planning things and almost having this deterministic approach to to going

out to eat as well where you said that like if you’re going with some friends being the first to suggest it right like

having an idea of like hey guys tonight you know we’re thinking

about options that will give you the the choices that you want and plus plus

it’ll probably make you pretty popular because no one can decide on what to eat 100 yeah most people that’s also with

social pressure in general a lot of people don’t nearly care as much as people think like people will

think oh I’m the I’m the weirdo I’m the fitness freak or whatever people really don’t care that much and in large Parts

it’s like awkwardness if you if you are awkward it becomes awkward if you’re not awkward then there is no awkwardness

because the awkwardness is that that feeling that you’re making and it’s very true with many things and fitness where

if you’re just like yeah this is how I eat um typically the model I recommend for this is you

either set the example you lead or you detach you’re just either you’re going to be like look this is how I eat I need

helpfully I eat lean and this is why I do it I love it I suggest you do the same actually because I think it’s a

better way to live you’re going to live longer you’re going to feel better Etc and if you don’t want to be that person then you can detach you can just be like

this is what I do this is what you do fine you know we different this you don’t engage in the conversation you just detach but what many people do is

they go halfway like they succumb to a little bit of social pressure but then they try to lead a little bit like

they’re maybe they make some remarks and they don’t follow up on that and then you’re just the annoying person maybe you’re like passive aggressive uh even

if you don’t intend to be but that doesn’t work if people know what your stance is then this is like General

Social Psychology you you’ve gained idiosyncrasy credits as it’s called to

to deviate from the group Norm Behavior so if people as long as people know where you stand and you’re they know

you’re generally a good person you’re fun et cetera and you’re not going to be like uh super nasty about hey you know

you’re you’re fat and you’re eating this and blah blah then people are gonna be fine with you eating healthily like it’s

super socially acceptable to eat healthily as long as you make it socially acceptable

yeah I like that where it’s yeah let’s talk about my with this with my friend the other day where it’s like there’s

this social Norm of like drinking for example and it’s like when everyone’s down getting a bunch of shots they like

they kind of look at you and expect you to but if you make the precedent of like hey I’m like

I’m doing this for like Fitness and I like I don’t want to binge drink with you guys like they’re actually okay with

it you know when you make it that part of you and not you know not just be

halfway and kind of like succumb to their pressure eventually exactly and you’re going to probably

find out that a lot of people are now going to come up to you and they’re going to ask you like oh actually I didn’t want to drink but um I still

ended up doing it how do you do it uh what many people don’t know is that I’m actually in a fraternity or I used to be

in a fraternity and I think I’m still and I never left it and they have hazing like it’s it’s a it’s not like the

traditional fraternity that’s the bad reputation they were much more chill and reasonable but it was a fraternity with hazing with

military training during the Aging barely sleep Etc all of those things but I told them like

okay if you want me in your fraternity because they invited me I told them you know I know how it’s going to go but I

don’t drink and that’s just I don’t care if it’s hazing or whatever I’m not drinking

so if you want me a fraternity then it’s going to be without drinking and that’s just that’s an ultimate that’s just a

hard Rule and they were like oh damn nobody’s ever said that before and they were like yeah but you know can’t you

drink a little bit nope but what if uh if it’s only during nope and it’s like oh well okay so

yeah you don’t drink someone who doesn’t drink and everybody knew it and it wasn’t an issue

yeah wow nice secret life of meadow the frat boy days

and then one last thing a big stumbling block people encounter

when dieting is what comes after so how do you advise people transition out of a

fat loss phase or a mini cut I typically go straight into a lean book

but conservatively I don’t think you need to have like a maintenance phase or anything like that just be aware that

when you come off the diet your metabolism is relatively suppressed like your body weight has probably

decreased your energy intake has decreased so your metabolism is going to be a lot slower than it was before the

diet so you don’t go back to the dietitian before you don’t certainly you certainly don’t milk on the calories

that you were booking on before when you’re five kilos lighter not eating as much weren’t gonna

um didn’t have adapter thermogenesis Etc so you just want to estimate okay now

I’m say losing weight a little bit I estimate that I’m in a five percent energy deficit I want to be an attempt

and a five percent energy Surplus that means I can increase energy it’s like a good ten percent probably a little bit more because there’s going to be

adaptive from a Genesis in your favor this time which is like metabolic adaptation the more energy you consume the higher your body weight the faster

your metabolism goes so you could probably add 12 13 the more experience you have with making a switch it gives

you an idea of how adaptive your metabolism is and based on that you can determine how extra aggressive you you

become with the switch but at least you can do the 10 percent or 12 percent 14 probably is still super

safe and then adjust from there see how much you can add how fast your metabolism ramps up and try to be in

that five percent energy Surplus because you don’t want to overshoot so I typically do we’re on the side of ending

up close to maintenance yeah after you’re heartworm uh fat loss you don’t want to get rid of that just making a

silly um calorie estimation mistake but there’s also no need to like

literally reverse diets or anything actually borrow the paper scientific paper or metabolic damage where we

disproved this idea that you need to literally reverse diet because your metabolism is damaged it was just adaptation there’s no damage taking

place mm-hmm yeah I like that having a more forgiving stance on this yeah the

metabolism where yeah you can go back to eating you just have to be careful about

it and just not not overdoing it is I think the big issue yeah well this has been fun conversation

Mano what’s going on with your own training um I’m actually I’m getting into kickboxing where I’ve gotten into

kickboxing okay because after the uh the major back injury last year I was like well I’ve kind of completed the game of

bodybuilding to begin with and now I’m looking at for some I mean I’m still doing at least five days a week of uh

every strength training still working on strength size as far as I can still again I’m still trying but putting it on

slightly lower level and also doing martial arts at the same time um focusing more on it’s kind of ironic

but my strength training is focused a little bit more on longevity whereas um with martial arts also adding some

aerobic training uh I have other physical goals to uh to Aspire to as well so I’m also learning

on how to balance these things out so actually getting some some new challenges which I like a lot

I like it find better in the ring soon and then yeah and then anything that you

would like to plug on your side I know that people can go check out obviously the book that we spoke about today the

scientific self-control and Menno’s personal training course yeah if you haven’t read the book yet or you like

this conversation you’ll probably love the book uh either audiobook or a physical copy or ebook and you can find

everything on my website manuel.com and on YouTube these days so

you can find a lot of videos as well for me there it’s like metal getting in on the

YouTube game all right well it’s been a great to have you on again thanks for being on the show pleasure as always


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About the author

Menno Henselmans

Formerly a business consultant, I've traded my company car to follow my passion in strength training. I'm now an online physique coach, scientist and international public speaker with the mission to help serious trainees master their physique.

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