Okay, we're back and here come the remaining methods of keeping your otherwise heavy meals small in calories but big in size. Over the course of a day, these ideas, combined with those in Part One, should help all you haters-of-an-empty-stomach get and stay in a negative energy balance–at least for the duration of a targeted "ripping phase." And just because this article is already spiraling out of control in size, I'll throw in a summary chart utilizing these techniques.

Here's to staying full!

7. Water: Less Body Fat and Less Heart Disease!

If you've already moved away from sugary drinks (a no-brainer for dramatically cutting kcal), then progressively drinking less-sweet (even less artificially sweet) beverages is next. Aspartame users tend to gain more weight in some studies! (24) Time to re-train your palate. Ultimately, drinking more plain, cold water, perhaps 2-3 liters per day for a healthy person, is a good goal for creating a negative energy balance and even reducing risk of heart disease.(2,3)

In fact, get this: a half-liter of cold water is hugely thermogenic according to a recent study! Metabolic rate jumps 30 percent and that thermogenesis is fueled by fat "burning" in men!(2) Nice. Because I've never liked large volumes of plain, room temperature tap water, here are two ways to pleasantly keep the fluids coming:

  • Sugar free gelatin–yep, again. It is fluid after all.
  • Flavored waters throughout the day (sucralose- or lime-wedge-flavored; not too sweet). I personally like Propel from the Gatorade people. Remember, we want to get "unused" to sweet drinks. As I mentioned, there's some pretty disconcerting evidence that typical hyper-sweet aspartame drinks just lead to next-day compensation and more weight gain in the long run; Ugh!(18, 24)
  • Try using a half-packet less sweetener in your green tea each month until you're drinking it plain.

8. Remove or Dilute Liquid kcal!

I've already touched on this but it's worth reiterating. Liquid calories are a likely way to add uncompensated (that is, truly additional) kcal to your intake,(7) even if some studies are mixed in this regard.(1) So, take the opposite approach to a bulking phase when you instead choose to diet: Avoid imbibing anything with calories other than a protein drink. This helps to preserve your negative energy balance. Remember:

  • Consume few and/or water-diluted fruit juices and no fruity "beverages" (Holy high-fructose corn syrup, Batman!).
  • Ditch the constant pop (or soda if you're not from the Midwest); it just adds small amounts of mistimed caffeine and rots your teeth.
  • "Friendly" liquid calories like skim milk are certainly less threatening but even they can be temporarily diluted (e.g. in protein shakes) with ice and water as a competition or deadline approaches.

9. Try a Small Snack 30 min. Prior to Meals!

I've written about this before. Eat a little something non-alcoholic (27) 30-45 minutes before an otherwise big meal. Think of it as an appetizer if that helps, even if we're using it as an anti-appetizer, as it were. Even when you take into consideration the kcal in this "preemptive strike," you'll come out ahead overall. Did you know that just eating three apples or pears per day has been shown to result in a 2-3 pound weight loss over 12 weeks?(5) Cool. So, as a pre-emptive strike to "dilute" a meal's calorie load, one might try:

  • A small apple. (13)
  • Some hot broth or soup. (15)
  • Some red pepper and coffee. (28)
  • A small protein shake (50/50 skim milk and water with ice).

Hepatic glycogen storage and resulting messages to the brain appear to be one mechanism here.

10. Can't Live Without Pasta or Potatoes? Here Are Some Great Dilution Tips (and a Warning):

  • Mix a 50/50 blend of pre-nuked broccoli, peppers or your favorite "fibrous" vegetable into whole wheat or flax-based pasta. Ditch the white stuff if humanly possible. Bam! It's still delicious but there goes half the calories, Emeril.
  • Caution: Use gluten- and soy-based low-carb pastas with prudence. Sub-clinical gluten sensitivity may be more prevalent than once thought and soy carries its own special hormonal considerations. These should be more of a treat and less of a staple than the veggie "dilution technique" stated above.
  • Also consider replacing 25-50% of your mashed potatoes with cauliflower. It's not bad. Really.

Okay, so here's a little chart as a summary of this article:

Figure 1. Calorie Dilution Techniques Summary

With a calorie budget of just 1400-2000 kcal for most dieters, we now have 10 ways to keep the look, frequency, and SIZE of our meals desirable. A full stomach is always a good thing–and an even better thing six weeks into a "diet"!

Making small to moderate, acceptable changes puts us on the road to that approaching poolside physique display (or more serious goal) that many dieters think about. Consistency is the single most important factor and attractive, reasonably-sized plates of food make it happen. (Remember, though, that a "lapse is not a collapse." We can get back on track the very next meal, even if a grab of the old love handles may be necessary as a reminder before wiping out a second high-cal "cheat meal.")

In the end, no dieter wants to stare down another pale, boiled chicken breast and a cup of unattractive, grey-looking "green" beans. Nor does he want to eat postage-stamp-sized portions of his favorite foods. What kind of freaky torture is THAT?! Toward these ends, and as a fellow calorie watcher, I humbly submit these calorie dilution techniques in hopes that they will help.

Next in this "Losing Your Energy Balance" Series: Calorie DRAINING Techniques to make that negative kcal balance even easier! Some will definitely surprise you!

References and Further Reading:

  1. Almiron-Roig, E. Liquid calories and the failure of satiety: how good is the evidence? Obes Rev. 2003 Nov;4(4):201-12.
  2. Boschmann, M. Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9.
  3. Chan, J., et al. Water, other fluids, and fatal coronary heart disease: the Adventist Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 May 1;155(9):827-33.
  4. Clarkston W., et al. Evidence for the anorexia of aging: gastrointestinal transit and hunger in healthy elderly vs. young adults. Am J Physiol. 1997 Jan;272(1 Pt 2):R243-8.
  5. Conceicao de Oliveira, M. Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women. Nutrition 2003 Mar;19(3):253-6.
  6. deCastro, J. Circadian rhythms of the spontaneous meal pattern, macronutrient intake, and mood of humans. Physiol Behav. 1987 40(4): 437-446.
  7. DiMeglio, D. and Mattes, R. Liquid versus solid carbohydrate: effects on food intake and body weight. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Jun;24(6):794-800.
  8. Erdmann, J. Differential effect of protein and fat on plasma ghrelin levels in man. Regul Pept. 2003 Nov 15;116(1-3):101-7.
  9. Froetschel, M. Bioactive peptides in digesta that regulate gastrointestinal function and intake. J Anim Sci. 1996 Oct;74(10):2500-8.
  10. Gendall, K. The effects of meal composition on subsequent craving and binge eating. Addict Behav. 1999 May-Jun;24(3):305-15.
  11. Goldberg, G., et al. Dietary compensation in response to covert imposition of negative energy balance by removal of fat or carbohydrate. Br J Nutr. 1998 Aug;80(2):141-7.
  12. Hammer, J. Does the ileocolonic junction differentiate between solids and liquids? Gut. 1993 Feb;34(2):222-6.
  13. Heacock P., Hertzler S., and Wolf B. Fructose prefeeding reduces the glycemic response to a high-glycemic index, starchy food in humans. J Nutr. 2002 Sep;132(9):2601-4.
  14. Holt, S., et al. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Sep;49(9):675-90.
  15. Kissileff, H. The satiating efficiency of foods. Physiol Behav. 1984 Feb;32(2):319-32.
  16. Jenkins, D., et al. Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency. N Engl J Med 1989 321(14): 929-934.
  17. Kirkmeyer, S, and Mattes, R. Effects of food attributes on hunger and food intake. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Sep;24(9):1167-75.
  18. Lavin, J., et al. The effect of sucrose- and aspartame-sweetened drinks on energy intake, hunger and food choice of female, moderately restrained eaters. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1997 Jan;21(1):37-42.
  19. Layman, D., et al. A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr 2003 133(2): 411-417.
  20. Long, S., et al. The ability of habitual exercise to influence appetite and food intake in response to high- and low-energy preloads in man. Br J Nutr. 2002 May;87(5):517-23.
  21. Miles, C., et al. Effect of dietary fiber on the metabolizable energy of human diets. J Nutr 1988 Sep;118(9):1075-81.
  22. Rolls, B. What can intervention studies tell us about the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and weight management? Nutr Rev. 2004 Jan;62(1):1-17.
  23. Speechly, D. and Buffenstein, R. Greater appetite control associated with an increased frequency of eating in lean males. Appetite 1999 33(3): 285-297.
  24. Stellman S. and Garfinkel, L. Patterns of artificial sweetener use and weight change in an American Cancer Society prospective study. Appetite. 1988;11 Suppl 1:85-91.
  25. Stubbs, R., et al. Breakfasts high in protein, fat or carbohydrate: Effect on within-day appetite and energy balance. Eur J Clin Nutr 1996 50(7): 409-417.
  26. Stubbs, R., et al. The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living men, consuming their normal diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Feb;56(2):129-40.
  27. Westerterp-Plantenga, M. The appetizing effect of an aperitif in overweight and normal-weight humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Feb;69(2):205-12.
  28. Yoshioka, M., et al. Combined effects of red pepper and caffeine consumption on 24 h energy balance in subjects given free access to foods. Br J Nutr. 2001 Feb; 85(2): 203-11.