What’s the difference between a Diet and a diet?
A “Diet” is a structured and pre planned approach to the foods you eat toward a goal. It is usually a change from your normal way of eating…which leads nicely to explaining what a diet is.
All of us are on a diet. All of of us that eat food at least.
A diet is simply the habitual daily foods we eat without any particular body composition goal in mind. It is just what we eat without paying it too much thought.
Some peoples diet (the food consumption they just favour and consume) leads them to be over fat and some people just naturally eat an amount and type of food that keeps them trim. Which type of diet you currently follow is influenced by so many factors, some of which may include your upbringing, your education, your financial perspective, your job and the lifestyle you chose to lead.
Which is the best type of diet for “X” goal?
Weight loss and body fat control are the two most common Dieting goals by a long margin. Eating for an increase in physical performance is a goal pursued by far fewer so for now we’ll focus on weight loss and body fat control.
If weight loss is your goal then the single most important factor is calorie control. Always will be. I’ve said it enough times but it really does pay to repeat a message that foundational.
It is very easy to get caught up in the magic of marketing and believe that there is a part of the puzzle we are missing:
Physiologically, counting calories will work, it is impossible for it not to. BUT sometimes it doesn’t work for real people with real lives unless you have all your food prepared for you and delivered to your door (as I offer with the 90 day Transformation Solution found here).
A Diet which is a radical change from your current diet can be really tough to stick to long term. The story usually goes something like this:
You are fed up with being over weight, have tried many different Diets in the past and are now REALLY ready to make the next one work. You read the new Diet book, clear your cupboards of the crap, fill your shopping basket with the bizarre list of foods this new Diet advises and dedicate yourself to a new body.
Week one goes by and you may have even enjoyed the cooking, the loss of a food group (maybe it’s carbs maybe it’s fats) and you’ve also dropped 3lbs! Amazing and entirely satisfying. You’ve reinforced your dedication and belief in yourself. Good work.
Week two starts with gusto…you lose 1.5lbs. Still good work but less gratifying than week one.
Week three and you’re ready for another 3lb weight loss. Wednesday the workload is tough at work and one of the kids is feeling ill and wants ice cream. You resist finishing the left overs. Will power at it’s best. Good work…here’s a virtual pat on the back!
The end of week three is closing in and you’re exhausted from juggling work and a sick kid. The boss is on a rampage and you’ve worked hard. Your will power is tested to it’s limit this week with office birthdays (which always seem to require cakes and doughnuts lying around) and a lack of sleep and add to that less than a pound off the scales and you’re questioning what you are doing wrong…forgetting that any weight loss is progress.
Week four promises renewed vigour but that lack of carbs or fat or whatever nutrient you are restricting is taking it’s toll mentally and counting those calories every damn day is starting to feel less like a new body in the works and more like extra work that so and so in the office doesn’t do and still looks great.
By week five your will power and patience is wearing out and old treats and habits start to creep back in and soon enough by week six you’re basically back eating your old diet which will eventually lead to putting on the weight you lost and perhaps a little extra for insult.
A familiar story for so many.
So what can a chap or chapette do?
First off, know this: there are no secret foods or Diets. Just smarter foods and healthier diets.
The key is finding a Diet that turns into your diet. A sustainable way of eating that may start as a Diet that requires effort and planning but, over time, because it is realistic, becomes your natural way of eating, your diet and not your Diet.
Fad Diets can be a great way to quickly lose weight in the short term but unless you choose to make a change in your food choices for good then you’ll always end up back where you started.
Some of us find calorie counting simple. Some don’t.
For those that struggle with counting calories then a simple food list of do’s and don’ts can work wonders.
If calorie counting is not your thing over the long haul then here is my recommended foods list for a sustainable diet that promotes healthy weight, body fat and physical performance.
Of course, over eating on even healthy foods still leads to weight gain, the key here is that these foods usually leave a person more satisfied from less total calories without having to pay too much attention to it.
Smart foods in order of importance:
Lean meats and fish
The variation in meals, snacks and flavours is almost limitless with that small but smart list.
Foods not on that list that start to creep in more than one meal per week (yes you can have a treat meal) will ultimately sabotage your goals, mostly because they are usually VERY calorie dense and moreish! A few hundred extra calories a day may not seem like much but they will add up to waist sizes and wobbly bits in a few short months so keep them out of your diet 90% of the time.