The word "diet" itself doesn't carry a pleasant undertone. It's seen as both a cancer and a cure in our world.
A "cancer" in the sense that everyone hates the living shit out being on one and the "cure" because we all need to have some form of one or we're just eating without any form of guidance to steer our nutritional choices. That doesn't usually work out very well. (Pun may have been intended)
Needless to say, there are many upsides dieting.
You get to look leaner, which means you look good when you take your clothes off, and your partner generally wants to spend more time with you in a non-clothed manner.
There's also a lot of downsides to dieting, especially when you do it wrong.
Before I list some of them off, I think it's important to clarify that I'm not saying "you have to do it this way or you f***ed". I would encourage you to find a eating method that works best for you.
Here's a couple ways to know if your diet isn't working for you and I'll throw in some ways to make it better.
Let's get into it:
Problem: You're not eating enough
Fix: Eat just slightly less than you were eating before
This is a diet, right? Yes. Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes people make when attempting a new eating routine is dropping their food quantity by too much.
Wouldn't that just makes the fat loss faster though? Well, it would make the weight loss faster. That doesn't necessarily mean the only thing you're losing is body fat.
If you drop your calories too much all in one go, you'll start losing muscle mass as well. While this is a normal part of dieting to lose some muscle mass when losing body fat, you want to minimize the possibility of it.
Muscle is hard to build and you don't want to squander all the hard work you put in just because you want to lean out a bit.
A recommended rate of calorie change is 200-400 calories at a time. First you need to know how much you're eating now, so do your homework, log your food into MyFitnessPal for a while and then make adjustments.
While on the subject, it's also notable to say that many who drop their food intake too much tend to bounce back to the original amount, if not more.
Looking at subjects from the show "The Biggest Losers" who went on a diet of near 1000 calories per day and exercised more than 3 hours per day had a propensity to gain all of the weight lost and then some.
This happens because your body can only handle so much of a calorie deficit before beginning to lose large amounts of muscle mass along with the intended body fat. This would lower your metabolic rate, meaning it would become more difficult to lose body fat as your metabolism becomes slower and would result in a higher propensity to gain body fat.
Problem: You can't stick with it
Fix: Pause. What's the one thing you can change this week to improve your diet? Do that. Nothing else.
It's really that simple.
Problem: You hate the food you eat
Fix: Include a decent amount of foods you enjoy and some of the foods you need to eat
Well, this just sucks. I love pizza, pizza pops, and a good Stella Artois once in a while. If you told me I couldn't have them again in order to get lean, I'd say forget it.
The truth is, you can have these foods. You can eat foods you enjoy and you're actually encourage to do so. It's just the quantities that you're looking at changing.
*Some people do better with completely removing those kinds of foods from their diet because they can't stop at one slice or one beer.
Most importantly, as is the theme of this whole article, make small changes.
G̶e̶t̶ ̶r̶i̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶b̶a̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶n̶o̶w̶.̶ Start by removing one food in a couple of meals and replacing it with someone you enjoy, but is a healthier option.
Then another, and another. Leave some foods that are "junk food" if you want to.
If you change 90% of your diet and leave 10% "junk", you're still doing 90% better than you were before.
Problem: You're trying to change everything at once
Fix: Change one thing at a time
You're impatient. Welcome to the club. Here's the thing. It took you a long time to create the habits you have now. Most of them were not creating intentionally, it just happened.
That being said, it'll take a while to break out of those habits and just like anything else, taking on too much at once is just more stress and going to cause you fail about 99.999999999999% of the time.
Chances are, you're not the 0.000000000000000000000000000001% who can.
So skip that part and just work on the one thing you change right now. Whether it's eating vegetables with your lunch once or twice a week, drinking an extra glass of water a day, or having 2 donuts a day instead of 3, do it.
You won't be able to see immediate changes, but it'll definitely make a difference as you keep slowly changing the way you live.
Problem: "All food other than X food is going to make me fat"
Fix: No food by itself will make you fat.
An excessive amount of food combined together with a lack of exercise is what makes us gain fat (and some medications, but you should talk to your doctor if that's the case). There are special circumstances here, but we'll leave those out for now.
What you should know is that, whether it's carbs, fat, sugar, or GMO's, none of those are singly responsible for weight gain.
Controlling your portion sizes and getting a sufficient amount of nutrients (a high amount of protein really helps) along with a challenging exercise routine should be enough to get you leaner.
- Carbs are not the enemy.
- Fats are not the enemy.
- Sugar is not the enemy.
- GMO's are not bad for you.
Enjoy a variety of foods that allow you to love your life, hit the gym with a sufficient amount of energy, and make you want to keep improving your body (not hating it) and you'll be fine.
James Harris is the founder of Titanium Strength Systems, as well as the head writer and coach. He trains online and in person in Chilliwack, BC. You can find his writing around the internet on websites such as Muscle & Strength, The PTDC, Fitness Pollenator, PTBIZ, and Deansomerset.com.