A Key to Fat Loss: Naturally Shrinking your Stomach

Smaller Stomach

One of the most common problems people have when dieting and trying to lose fat is controlling how much they eat at one time, otherwise known as portion control. Many people end up eating appropriate amounts of food for most of the day, but then eat significantly more during one of their meals (usually dinner). In some cases, the amount eaten during this larger meal is enough to undo all the progress the person made with their eating during the rest of the day.

There are many different reasons why people overeat and most of the time it has nothing to do with true physiological hunger. For some people, the main problem is just eating too fast. When you have satisfied your body’s actual caloric needs, your brain will send a signal that you do not need to eat anymore, but that signal does not come right away (on average about 20 minutes later). During this time many people keep eating and if they eat fast, they can consume way too many calories before their body tells them to stop.

In other situations, overeating is related to a person’s emotional state, stress level, or it could be a developed habit of eating too much that resulted from childhood experiences. For most people it is usually a combination of multiple reasons, but the real problem is that your body’s true signals about how much you should eat often get lost or overpowered by the competing signals from cravings or other eating behaviors/habits.

For example, many people who overeat have a desire to feel full after a meal and they may not stop eating until the get a sensation of fullness. This desire to feel full really has nothing to do with physiological need to eat that much food, but it can be as strong as or even stronger than the actual feeling of hunger. This is very problematic, because feeling full actually means you have eaten too much and fat loss becomes much more difficult if you are frequently feeling full after meals.

Perhaps the biggest problem with feeling full is the effect that is has on your stomach. The human body is great at adapting to the demands that it faces on a daily basis. For instance, if you lift appropriately heavy weights, your muscles will become stronger, because they are adapting so the demands (the weight) will not be as heavy in the future. A similar thing happens with the stomach, where if you always eat until you feel full, your stomach will expand to try to accommodate larger amounts of food.

This is definitely not something you want to happen, because it leads to eating even larger meals. Regardless of how large your stomach becomes, if your habit is to eat until you feel full, you will likely end up eating greater amounts of food as your stomach expands. This cycle of overeating will continue and possibly get worse, unless something is done to get you to stop eating before you feel full.

The good news is that just because your stomach expands, it does not mean it has to stay that way. Just as your body adapts and expands to accommodate large meals, you can also shrink the size of your stomach if you eat meals that don’t fill you up. This is what I call naturally shrinking your stomach and it is fairly simple in theory, but it can be challenging, especially if you have a very strong desire to feel full after every meal.

As stated previously, your body is great at adapting to new situations, but this change does not happen overnight. Since many people have a problem of eating at least one meal that is too big, the first and most important step is to decrease the number of calories consumed in your largest meal(s). Even if you eat small meals for every other meal, eating one large meal a day can keep the size of your stomach from shrinking. Different strategies work for different people, but I will go over some of the ways people have been successful in decreasing the size of their large meals.

One of the best options is to spread you calories as evenly as possible between meals. Since most people eat too much at their evening meal, this generally means eating more calories earlier in the day. Eating more calories during the rest of the day also usually decreases the cravings to eat more during the time when the largest meal is typically eaten. Since your cravings will likely be reduced, this strategy can additionally decrease the desire to eat until full, because the desire to feel full generally increases with more intense cravings.

Of course, with this approach to eating, you still have to worry about your overall caloric intake and if you make all of your other meals significantly larger, then you have to decrease the size of your largest meal by at least the total number of calories you add to your other meals. Also, keeping your total calorie intake the same and spreading the calories evenly between your meals will not necessarily cause a significant amount of fat loss right away, but it will start to shrink your stomach, which sets the stage for future long-term fat loss.

If spreading your calorie intake evenly throughout the day seems too difficult, then there is a less complicated approach you can try, which involves simply splitting your largest meal in half. The purpose is not to force yourself to eat half as many calories, because this will just make the cravings worse, but rather do decrease the amount eaten at one time. By splitting the meal in two portions, you can eat one portion at the regular time and eat the other half of the meal 2 or 3 hours earlier or later. This gives your body time to digest some of the food so your stomach does not have to accommodate as much food at one time, which should help it shrink.

The important thing when trying to naturally shrink the size of your stomach is to form a new eating habit where you don’t have to feel full after eating. One misconception people have is that eating well most of the day will result in a smaller stomach. Eating well most of the day can still result in fat loss, but the size of your stomach is generally determined by the size of your largest meal. Your body adapts to accommodate the size of your largest meal and not the size of your average meal.

This means that consistently eating meals that do not make you feel full is the only guaranteed way to create a significant shrinking or your stomach. Fortunately, once you are able to break the habit of eating until full, every other part of the stomach shrinking and fat loss process should become much easier. Once you are no longer bound by the need to feel full, you can concentrate on further decreasing the size of your larger meals and eventually learn to eat 5 or more small meals throughout the day. Eating small frequent meals is really the best way to shrink your stomach and it helps keep up your metabolism and gives you more energy throughout the day.

Another positive aspect to eating smaller meals and naturally shrinking your stomach is that when you do eat poorly it will not set you back as much. Ideally you should never overeat, but we all eat unhealthy foods or excessive amounts of food on occasion. If your stomach is smaller, you will get the full feeling and possibly even an uncomfortable feeling if you eat too much and this happens much sooner if you have a smaller stomach. Therefore, even when you eat poorly, you will not eat as many calories as someone with a larger stomach.

Naturally shrinking your stomach is not something that happens overnight and it does take dedication and consistency to really pay off, but it is really worth the effort, especially if you frequently eat until you feel full. I have also personally noticed that when you have a smaller stomach and eat smaller meals, your true hunger signals become clearer, so it becomes much easier to tell when you are really hungry and how much food you should eat. Once this happens, you will be much less likely to overeat and your ability to lose fat and keep it off will be greatly enhanced.

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About Ross Harrison 14 Articles

Hi, my name is Ross Harrison and I am a personal trainer in Austin, TX. I have been a certified personal trainer (NSCA) since 1996 and I am also a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), nutritional consultant, and I have completed numerous other courses and certifications over the years. I also have a degree in psychology from Grinnell College. Over the course of my career I have been an independent personal trainer working with  clients in their homes or various other locations, as well as a trainer at a large gym. I also have experience working in a privately owned health food store  and a large chain supplement store.

After almost a decade in the health and fitness industry, I became frustrated and discouraged by the way many personal trainers and gyms were so focused on making money, even at the expense of their client’s success. As a result, I decided the only way for me to feel good about being a personal trainer would be to start my own business. That way I could create my own policies and make sure I stayed true to what I believe a personal trainer should  be. Then in 2005, I did just that when I started my personal training business called Precision Health & Fitness.

I chose to name my business Precision Health & Fitness, because it accurately reflects the approach I take as a personal trainer. I believe personal training should be completely focused on the client and since every person is different, every program should be precisely designed to reflect that individual’s specific goals, needs, abilities, and lifestyle. I know many
personal trainers say this, but more and more trainers are just repeating the same programs with numerous clients or using tools, such as computer programs,  to self-generate “custom” workouts or nutritional programs for their clients. In my mind these are examples of mass-produced training programs, not personal training.

I also feel that many conventional personal training practices, such as making clients sign contracts, not allowing refunds for purchased sessions, and even paying by the hour, ultimately take the focus off the client’s needs. Therefore, I made the conscious decision to stay away from any policy or practice that I felt detracted from focusing on my clients, even though other people have told me I am limiting my income or discounting the value of my services too much.

For example, my clients pay session prices instead of an hourly rate. This may not sound like a big difference, but it means I can spend more time with my clients when they need it. Many of the people I work with are just starting to exercise or have never been taught proper exercise technique. By having a set time limit on my sessions, I can take the extra time to ensure my clients learning to perform exercises correctly. This not only ensures their safety, but also leads to more effective workouts and better long-term results. Of course, if a client has a set schedule or a limited amount of time, then I will make sure the workouts I create fit those time constraints.

Another benefit of not having timed sessions is it gives clients the opportunity to talk or ask questions about health and fitness or their workout routine. I have never been a big fan of trainers who take the “do it because I said so” approach to health and fitness. I encourage clients to ask questions and I believe that becoming more educated about exercise and nutrition and
learning how your actions affect your results is an important component of health and fitness programs. By making a link between your actions and your results, it will help motivate you to stick to your  program.

This is just one example of how I my business is focused my clients, but there are also other ways Precision Health & Fitness stands out from other trainers and gyms. For instance, I do not have clients sign contracts and they are free to discontinue their training program at any time. I even let my clients determine their own payment plan, which they can change at any time.
Some clients pay for a number of sessions in advance, some pay after each session, and some pay after they have completed a number of sessions. It is all about trying to make things as easy and convenient for my clients as  possible.

That is not to say the workouts themselves are easy, because every workout is designed to be challenging, so it will create a stimulus for improvement. At the same time, I never design workouts that are designed to make  people stiff and sore for a week or have trouble walking up stairs. I know some  people like those workouts because they think the harder they work, the better  their results will be, but that is only true up to a point. It is definitely  possible to exercise too hard or too much and excessively challenging workouts  are almost always counterproductive over the long-run.

When you really think about it, shouldn’t long-term health and fitness improvements be the goal of a personal training program? I believe that it certainly is, although I know there are people who would disagree with me. However, for the people who just want to push themselves as hard as possible regardless of the long-term consequences, there is not shortage of personal trainers who are willing to do just that. My background and personal experiences  have made me believe that long-term health and success should never be sacrificed for short-term gain and that is the philosophy I apply to my personal  training programs.

Speaking of my background and personal experiences, exercise and nutrition have both been very important parts of my life since I was young. When  I was seven, I developed a serious hip infection that destroyed the femur head  (ball that connects to the hip) in my right leg and left me with a fused right  hip. At the time I was told there was almost no chance that I would ever
walk again, but by working hard and keeping up with my exercises, I was able to regain the ability to walk and eventually allowed to play most sports and participate in almost any other activity I wanted.

However, even with continued exercise, I still experienced hip pain that increased over the years. Then when I was 30 I was finally old enough to get a total hip replacement, which resulted in an almost complete reduction in my pain, but I was also left with a new set of restrictions. Since hip replacements  wear out over time, it means the more stress I put on my hip by doing things  like playing sports or running, the sooner I will need a new hip replacement.  Needless to say, my activities have drastically changed since my hip replacement  and I no longer play sports, but I still exercise regularly to remain healthy  and stay in shape.

As for nutrition, it has played an equally important role in my life. When I was younger, I had very unhealthy eating habits, was overweight (or husky  as my clothes were called), constantly felt run down, and got sick frequently.  By the time I was 18 I was trying to eat healthier, but I had already caused my  body and immune system enough distress to be hospitalized for
pneumonia and I  developed a bad case of ulcerative colitis, which is an incurable intestinal  condition where treatment involves just trying to keep it in remission. Simply  put, I had a lot of health issues for a teenager.

Fortunately for me, I became more educated about nutrition and I made eating healthier a priority in my life. My improvements were not immediate, but over time my energy level increased and my immune system improved to the point where I rarely ever get sick anymore. Also I have been able to keep my ulcerative issues to a minimum just by eating healthy (it is generally kept in remission through medication) and by working on managing my stress level. Due to  my improved nutritional habits, I can easily say that I am far healthier and feel much better in my mid 30’s than I ever did as a teenager.

The reason I included all this information is because it explains what motivates me as a trainer and why I care so much about health and fitness. My personal history has also shaped my training philosophy and it is the reason why I always focus on the long-term outcome of a training program, instead just thinking about short-term improvement. It is also why I try to get people to shift their priority from what they can do to look better and think more about what they can do to make their body feel better throughout their lifetime.

If you eat healthy, exercise properly, and do other things that make your body feel better, you will be doing the same things you need to make your body look better. On the other hand, if your sole focus is on making your body look better, it does guarantee that your training program will make your body feel better years down the road. Workout programs that cause you to perform
exercises incorrectly, use poor posture, or develop muscle imbalances can still result in you looking better, but they can also lead to premature muscle and joint aches and pains years later.

It is completely natural to be focus on the present and the immediate future, but people frequently do not think enough about how they want their body  to feel in 20 or 30 years down the road, at least not until they start developing some health related problems. Personal training success is often measured my how much weight is lost or how much muscle is gained, but I believe that is not the best way to think about success. Even if you lose fat, if you are frequently sore or in pain, I would not consider that to be successful, except maybe if you are a competitive athlete or someone who is required to push  your body to the limit.

Personal training and health and fitness in general, should be about creating a better overall quality of life and not only about looking better. Of course, looking better is almost always a primary goal, but it should not the only focus of a program. I know from first hand experience how much of a positive impact a well-designed exercise and nutrition program can have on virtually every aspect of your life. All too often, people accept aches and pains as normal consequences of aging, but in most cases you can make a significant improvement in how you feel.

I want to leave you with a final thought, regardless of your current situation, you are capable of improvement and you probably capable of achieving much more than you might think. I wish you success in all your health and  fitness endeavors and please contact me at ross@precisionhealth-fitness.com  or (512) 537-3377 if you have any comments or questions.

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