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90's kids- do you remember the life/health meter on the screen in games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter?  Every time your fighter took a punch or roundhouse kick to the head your health meter would reduce.  Once down to 0% it was game over.  Well this is kind of how our willpower works.  Every decision and thought we have throughout the day gradually reduces our Willpower Meter until it is down to nothing.  How you decide to order your coffee at Dunkin Donuts, the 3 meetings you have during the day, the talk you have with your kid about misbehaving all contribute to reducing your Willpower Meter.  By the time 7pm rolls around, how much mental capacity and willpower do you realistically have left to eat a salad instead of ordering pizza?  Most of us overeat at night more than any other time during the day because that's when our Willpower Meter is lowest.  It’s cruel how our willpower is lowest when our cravings are highest but there are ways around it.

How to hack the Willpower Meter

Hack #1: Automation
Automate or pre-plan as much as possible so you aren't making as many decisions during the day. Examples would be eating the same breakfast, not checking email until a designated time (I usually wait until 9-10a), or going to the gym at the same time every day.  Decisions on auto pilot become habits therefore do not get factored into your Willpower Meter.  Bringing it back around to eating, more willpower left in the bank at night will make good food choices easier.

Hack# 2: Saving calories for later in the day (Calorie Backloading and Intermittent Fasting)
This entails eating most of your calories later in the day while eating smaller meals or no meals earlier in the day. It's easier to make good food choices earlier in the day when your Willpower Meter is highest. Going to use myself as an example to illustrate why saving calories is a good idea.  Towards the end of my most recent fat loss phase I was consuming ~2,000 calories daily, which is not a ton of food for someone my size.  If I ate 6 equal meals throughout the day starting in the early morning, that would equate to 333 calories per meal.  That is absolutely miserable as I would never get that satisfied or full feeling.  I'd also most likely be going to bed hungry which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  This is not sustainable and would eventually lead to giving in and overeating.

How do you make it work then?  

Well first off, don't eat 6 meals and save your largest meals for later in the day (Calorie Backloading).  By lowering your number of meals in the 2-4 range, you are allotted much more calories per feeding.  If you eat 4 meals per day it can look something like this- 200 calories before the gym in AM, 300 calories after the gym in AM, 600 calories at lunch, and 900 calories at dinner/snack time.  Or, you can even skip breakfast entirely and wait to have your first meal at lunch time (aka Intermittent Fasting, I use this approach on my off days).  This opens up the door for epic, gigantic meals!

These bigger meals in the afternoon/night hours are so satisfying that you won't even feel like you're dieting.  By having less meals thus larger calorie meals, you are able to fit in higher calorie foods you crave that wouldn't work if eating a lot of food earlier in the day or eating every few hours.  An example would be a piece of cheesecake or a slice of pizza (both are roughly 400-500 calories) as a snack after dinner. A great approach if you have a stressful job and know you will struggle with willpower in the nighttime hours.  Willpower hacked.

This approach also works very well if you are socially active as most events like happy hour, dinner, or parties occur at night.  Imagine going out for dinner and drinks knowing you only had 200 calories left for the day.  That is going to be a terrible experience, you might as well not even go.  Instead, save your calories so you can enjoy yourself!  Side note- don't worry about eating late at night.  That's a complete BS myth that has been scientifically debunked several times.  All that matters is your total calories for the day.  

I've taken many steps to automate as much as possible in both my professional and personal life. For the Calorie Backloading/Intermittent Fasting piece, it's one part working around willpower later in the day and one part that most people are hungriest at night. Personally, I have no problems eating small meals early in the day knowing there is a large meal I love waiting for me at night.  It's kind of like a reward for a productive and successful day. 

The moral of the story is by saving calories for later in the day you won't have to demonstrate much willpower at night when it is the lowest, while at the same time enjoying your favorite foods.  Don't fight willpower, hack it!

If you need some help figuring out your specific calorie and macronutrient breakdown, shoot me an email.

Make sure to follow me on Instagram @theshreddedsalesman

 


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