The diet that will last the rest if your life:
During a recent Personal Training session I had a conversation with a client and it went a little like this:
Client:: I’ve tried so many different diets but I just need to find one that works for me, a sustainable long term diet that I can use for life.
Me: The body works in flux, we are never static. We move through life and are either growing or shrinking, heating or cooling, speeding or slowing. We may hunger for protein one week and carbs the next. Nothing is a permanent solution and there is no such thing as fixed diet that will fit all our goals all the time. If our bodies are static (in a biological sense) then we are dead and gone.
Hearing that there is no one single type of diet that can simply be followed can sometimes leave a person feeling disheartened but it really shouldn’t.
I view it as meaning that some days can be feast days and others, famine (esque).Calorie restriction is the only way to lose weight but it doesn’t mean every day has to be restricted. One day maybe a day of indulgence and then next a Spartan day of very low energy intake.
This means that a fixed diet of set calories each day will not always work in a predictable and linear manner for the desired period of time. Other smaller factors can swing the pendulum in or against our favour: some days we move more than others, eat more more protein (which requires more energy to digest), shiver more, learn new subjects (brains require energy too) or eat more spicy foods. There are many ways in which our daily energy expenditures fluctuate.
We have a situation where we cannot possibly know, in advance, the exact amount of energy (food) that is needed on a day to day basis. We have to be ready to change.
It has been noted that naturally lean people automatically regulate their food (calorie) intake from one day to the next. For example:
Saturday they may have a normal breakfast and lunch. Dinner maybe a night out with friends with beers/wine and that leads to consuming one or maybe even two thousand more calories than they required on that day to maintain body mass.
Sunday: they will automatically eat smaller meals which will go a way to evening out the excess from the night before…this will continue as a natural course. The eb and flow of energy intake and output.
Not everyone can hear what their body tells them when it comes to diet, some people (the naturally lean ones) have very good hearing when it comes to the bodies energy balance “voice”.
We have all heard about so and so’s who can eat as much as they like and never get fat! These people do not have mega metabolisms or better genetics, they simply auto regulate their energy intake more effectively.
If I were to create and sell a “fits all” diet then it would be called the flux diet and it would be a diet that allows for a frequent flux of energy intake from high to low to moderate to low….there would be more lows than highs for weight loss and more highs than lows for weight gain.
For a 100kg man that requires 3000 calories per day (21,000 per week) to maintain weight then a weight loss “Flux Diet” (copyrighted here folks;) may look something like this, assuming a 2 lbs loss in one week (7000 calorie deficit):
Day 1 Busy day at work with little time for food prep – 1200 calories
Day 2 Woke hungry big breakfast and snacks all day – 2500 calories
Day 3 Big workout day, feeling smug…healthy brekky but missed lunch as out for dinner – 2500 calories
Day 4 Missed brekky, snack lunch, boring dinner – 1000 calories
Day 5 Skipped brekky, not hungry. Workout day. Good lunch, Prepped dinner, home cooked and fresh – 1500
Day 6 three square meals. Nothing fancy, prepped last night. 2000 calories
Day 7 pizza and beers with buddies – 4000 calories
Weekly intake: 14,700 netting a deficit of over 6000 calories….
With a little unstructured exercise thrown in: taking the stairs instead of the escalators at the station, a little extra sleep here and there you’ll soon see weight dropping off even with days of massive indulgence.
Trying to make a diet a steady state thing that has little wiggle room is hard work for more than a month or so.
Be flexible and open your mind to the fluctuations that are required to allow a “diet” to work it’s magic over the long term. Listen to your bodies “energy level voice” and get comfortable with days of high and low calorie intake.
And possibly more important than any of the above: stop thinking of a diet as a short term chore and start to realise it more as the way you eat from now on. Weight loss can easily happen even with treat foods and crap foods thrown in.
Bare in mind that a weight loss diet that cuts foods out entirely is a short lived quick fix. Fine if that is what you want but I try and see food as something I need to make peace with for life…..