First fats were evil. Then carbs. Then only sugars. Or skipping breakfast. Then you were told you should skip breakfast. Or only eat every second day?
The list of the dietary guidance the internet churns out is a smorgasbord of diametrically opposed sentiments that leave even the most enthused of individuals scratching their heads and wondering if it’s even worth it.
But, I can understand the confusion.
Seems every other day a new ‘report’ or celebrity will come out and claim they have the next big thing in health.
So let’s take a second, and look at why certain diets work.
What the rules are that cause some people to thrive one on diet, whereas you might find it unsustainable, and vice versa.
Because once we understand the rules behind these diets?
We can adopt it for our own lives, without having to stick with rigid, and often uncompromising rules.
Energy Balance Is King
Ok, so calories in vs calories out isn’t the be all and end all of dietary success (as explained in more detail here).
BUT, to discount its importance in dieting would be akin to refusing to acknowledge Bruce Lee in a rundown of martial arts icons.
The fact is, if you’re eating in a calorie surplus (that is to say, consuming more calories than you’re expending), losing weight is an impossibility.
Let’s look at how some of the most popular current diet protocols achieve this, without necessarily talking about it…
Reduces the time frame you can eat in, therefore forcing you into a calorie deficit.
Takes out an entire (more-ish) macronutrient, forcing you into a calorie deficit.
Again, reduces intake of overly processed, highly calorific and more-ish foods, causing you to eat in a calorie deficit.
Ok actually, that’s a topic a little too large to cover here… In short, they are highly unsustainable- check out more on the topic here after you’re done with the current blog.
The list goes on.
So, how can we use this knowledge to ensure we do the same, without having to stick with rigid guidelines?
We could count calories… and if you’re so inclined, certain apps on the market can help.
It’s not 100% accurate, nor is it a sustainable habit for most.
A more flexible approach?
Eat mindfully, and if weight loss is your goal, finish your meal when you’re around 80% full.
The current dinnertime routine most have of either watching a screen, or staring down at their smartphone whilst eating causes us to drastically overeat.
Harness the calorie deficit needed without having to demonise a macronutrient or eat on a particular schedule, and you’ll be well on your way to life long health.
Successful Diets Encourage Whole Foods
It’s not only paleo that harps on about this one.
And for good reason too.
Eating whole, natural foods, instead of overly processed items, couples nicely with the above advice, as your body will far better recognise when it’s becoming full.
Atop of the satiety boost natural foods possess, they also tend to be nutrient dense.
Meaning you’ll get a wider variety and quantity of healthy micronutrients, to help with energy, immunity, and functioning as a human being.
But, what if you don’t want to stick with a full paleo diet?
What if the idea of eating natural foods 100% of the time puts you at a high risk of abandoning healthy eating completely, and drives you straight to the sweets aisle at the supermarket?
Aim for around 80%.
Somewhere around 1/5 meals, allow yourself to have a more processed food.
You don’t have to actually count this out to keep the ratio exact, you’ll know if you’re eating mostly natural foods, or junk.
So long as you still listen to your hunger and fullness cues as touched upon above.
20% of your meals coming by way of less nutrient dense sources won’t negate all the great work you’re doing the other 80% of the time.
And it’s a lot more forgiving, and sustainable, then trying to eat ‘perfectly’ 24/7, 365.
Successful Diets Make You Believe In The Process
Once the two fundamentals are hit (as outlined above), so long as you’re eating a balanced macronutrient split (especially having enough protein), there isn’t a “best” diet.
It’s similar to training that way.
“What’s the best exercise programme for fat loss?”, is a variant of a question I’ve been asked countless times.
And my answer when I was younger may have been pushing my favourite training programme onto them.
But after a decade of coaching myself, clients ands watching others achieve incredible results?
My answer is now;
“Whatever training programme you can stick to”.
Let’s assume there’s a pair of twins.
One twin gets a programme set by an Olympic lifting coach, it has periodization, heavy lifting, and frequent exercise rotation. It’s a truly beautifully put together programme.
The other twin makes a programme up, whereby he does squats, push ups, and inverted rows three times a week.
Within a month, the first twin stops training. The second however, keeps going.
Eight weeks later, who do you think has better results?
The twin whom was given the best programming in the world, but didn’t believe in the plan enough to follow through?
Or the second twin, who had a basic plan, but remained consistent?
The same holds true for diets.
Some of the best diets that claim they have the magic formula? That in reality, simply adhere to the food quality and calorie deficit rule, but do it in a fancier marketing way?
The reason they can work so well?
Is partially because they say they have the magic formula.
And that? That makes people believe.
And belief is a powerful motivator. If you think you have the hidden tactics no one else has, don’t you think you’ll train harder than anyone else, or stick with your ‘secret’ nutrition routine?
Highly successful nutrition ideologies work largely for that very reason.
They are sold in a way that makes people buy into them.
When in reality? They’re just a slightly differently packaged method of achieving the same results.
Eating fewer calories than you’re using, and making sure the food you do eat is nutrient rich.
So, now you have the information you need?
The information that you can, in fact, eat a well balanced diet, in a calorie deficit with the occasional ‘treat’?
You’ve just given yourself every advantage you could possibly have.
You understand why every diet works.
Which means you can now use that for your own results, without having to stick to a rigid plan.
Or I guess you could make your own diet up and sell it… Is anybody demonizing lunch yet? That seems like it could sell… 😉
Getting your head around what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and when it’s OK to have treats (and what kind) can be very confusing.
Tailored nutritional advice is part of all our programmes here at Luke Bremner Fitness so you can enjoy treats with confidence to support your weight loss or health boosting goals.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.