I will always be bombarded by questions, comments, and concerns regarding which diet should someone do, are carbs the devil, can weight watchers work, are diets overrated, how did cavemen eat, why do I need to use more math, wtf is a macro, and much more of the sort.
I genuinely love the questions, and everyone is different so it makes for an engaging, and gratifying problem solving experience.
BUT, at some point I disappoint pretty much everyone when they ask me, as I’m probably about to do for you right at this very moment.
All diets are the same, the solution is you.
Bold statement, but it is the root of the topic at hand.
Let’s take a look at some shit here:
|Keto||Weight loss via removal of carbohydrates in the diet |
which in turn significantly reduces food options and can result in weight loss by way of dietary restriction.
|Weight loss via food option reduction resulting in |
|IIFYM (if it fits your |
|Weight loss via hitting target macronutrient amounts |
which add up to being a reduced caloric amount than
previously used to or being expended.
|Weight loss via reduction of feeding frequency, |
resulting in a smaller amount of opportunities to eat
and reduced chance to accumulate a surplus of calories.
|Zone||Weight loss via eating in Zone “blocks” keeping meals|
and food options limited, while maintaining a 40/30/30
macro splits of carbs/fats/protein which add up to being a reduced caloric amount than
previously used to or being expended.
|Weight loss via the assignment of “points” to spend on |
food, limiting intake options therefore decreasing
|Whole30||Weight loss via food option reduction resulting in |
|Weight loss via food option reduction, resulting in a |
higher likelihood of creating a caloric
deficit due to food option restriction.
I believe we’re noticing a trend here ^
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many other proposed benefits of these diets, such as the elimination of “trigger foods”, as well as potentially identifying food sensitivities, and the education that comes with trying something new.
I am merely here to grab your hand, and pull you out from under the veil of fitness and nutrition propaganda.
So how do I feel about these diets?
If they provide you with a better tool, to get done the job you’re aiming to do, in a way that will tax you as a human the least, I’m all for it.
Understand that there is one major commonality amongst all diets:
A Caloric Deficit
In order to lose weight, you must be eating less calories than you burn (sorry to beat the dead horse).
And in order to sustain results, you must be able to adhere to whichever diet you choose.
Therefore, the best diet for you is the diet you can adhere to the best.
Now, think of the aforementioned diets and any other you can think of as tools.
Which tool will help you get the job done most effectively, based on your lifestyle.
Let’s breakdown the integration of these diets:
|Diet||Whom it May Serve:|
|Keto||Those who love foods that are quite |
dominant in the fat macronutrient, and who may
have an intolerance to carbohydrates/sugar. Those without a rigorous training schedule.
|Those who don’t typically eat much “snack”, or |
“processed” foods, or who want to stop. Those who tend to be sensitive to common food allergies or those who want to learn more about whole foods. Those who want
to get in touch with their ancestors (I have legitimately heard this comment, and I strongly side with it).
|IIFYM (if it fits your macros)||Those we refuse to give up certain foods, or |
don’t have access to healthier options. Those who don’t have any food sensitivities or gut distress
(for now). Those who are budgeting.
|Those who generally don’t feel the need to eat |
often, or those who prefer larger portions but
less meal frequency. Those with an incredibly
|Zone||Those who like eating in the 40/30/30 macro |
split, and those who would like to belong to a
community (can be cultish) or a popular diet with
lots of peers, diet parameters, tips, and rules.
|Those who would like their diet parameters |
clearly laid out, belong to a community (can be cultish), and likes the idea of balance within the diet but doesn’t want to go as far as tracking.
|Whole30||Those who feel they need to, or were |
recommended to (by professional) try an
elimination diet for food sensitivities. Those
who want to learn more about whole foods.
|Those who want to make the shift away from relying onjunk, or snack type foods. Those who want to focus on food quality first, but not necessarily dive into tracking yet, until they learn a bit more about their foods.|
As you can see, there are certainly benefits to employing any of these diets.
If thats what it takes for you to make the jump, go for it.
These diets are a TOOL.
They can help you get the job of caloric restriction done in a way that can meet you where you’re at.
Not everyone can jump into tracking, or make a complete paradigm shift immediately.
Just remember, before you ask if you should do a certain diet, think about which have the tools to get your job done best.
I don’t recommend “diets” per se, because it often will lead into the vicious crash diet cycle, but if you feel you mesh with a diet like peanut butter and jelly, go for it!
What is OPTIMAL?
Optimal is tracking your nutrition, as I’m sure you were prepared for me to say.
The numbers tell all.
Having your metrics will eliminate guesswork, but I agree it can be a bit of a daunting jump to make at first.
So, optimal is a question of where you’re at.
So here is my answer to the optimal diet:
- It’s customized.
Your diet is YOUR diet. If someone says to not eat chocolate, but it’s your favorite food, you’ll likely adhere less if you can’t work it in. So…work it in!
Macros should be tailored to you. Calories should be tailored to you. Meal timing, frequency, and composition should be tailored to you.
You modify your intake as needed to make it fit with your schedule, needs, and must-haves.
2. It’s following an 80/20 or 90/10 rule.
This means 80% “clean” or whole foods, 20% enjoy yourself. Eventually progressed to 90/10, this is a great baseline to model. This ensures food quality, consumption of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), and establishment of habit, while psychologically still rewarding.
3. It can be adhered to.
This is always going to be repeated. If you cannot adhere to it, it will not work. Period. Plain and simple.
4. Minimal Effective Dose.
This ties in with adherence, and progression, but what I mean is you start with the smallest amount that is required to progress. Don’t remove 20% of your calories from the jump! Start with 5%, because that maintained for weeks will result in some loss, once you plateau, maybe take another 5, and continue.
This will ensure you’re maintaining your lean mass, hormonal responses, and recovery. You want to sustain your fat loss, right?
If you’re hyper-aggressive with your approach, you’ll break down too much muscle tissue, down regulate your hormone responses, and feel like you can’t do it anymore almost immediately.
5. There’s a plan for AFTER the goal has been acquired.
There’s a study showing that 85% of people needing to lose weight, will lose weight at some point in their lifetime. Of those 85%, 95% of them will gain the weight back within 3 years of that successful diet. Of those 95%, around 33% will gain more weight back, to put them even heavier than they were prior to embarking on the weight loss.
Read that a few times.
Think about the long game, respect yourself and the efforts you plan to take. Just like any time you’ve achieved a goal, or acquired something you once touted so highly; life goes on, and you adapt. Plan beyond the goal.
Simple Diet Modifications Checklist: *
Consistent From Day to Day: eat about the same amount daily, eat about the same amount of meals daily, minimize outliers within the diet. It's been shown in studies consistency within the diet improves insulin sensitivity (resulting in improved blood sugar levels, absorption, and potentially increasing fat loss due to bodily efficiency), and improving performance (your body doesn't have to make up for low calorie days, or inconsistencies). * You Hit Your Requirements: your protein requirement is nailed (1-1.2g/lb of bw daily), you get your needed supplements (omega 3's, deficient vitamins you may be taking like magnesium, zinc, vitamin c), you've consumed your water (2/3 bw in oz), your energy macronutrients (carbs & fats) are aligned with your energy output and goals (rigorous, high volume training=more carb need) * It's Flexible: you can make adjustments if needed. You can enjoy that chocolate in the evening, because you hit your requirements for the day and damnit you earned it. We're bending all sorts of ways to get where we desire to be, but if we break it's not worth it. * You're Being Mindful: you're paying attention to how you feel after meals, you're noticing if you're getting more efficient at cooking or prepping, you're enjoying your food, and not scarfing them down mindlessly, you're taking note of what you do/don't like about an ingredient, meal, time, or food source. You're not relying on liquids to wash your food down, you're completely chewing your food. You're aware of what hunger is, versus boredom, cravings, and stress.
The Perfect Diet for YOU, is the diet you’re happy to have, adhere to, and progress with.
Don’t be biased, dogmatic, or black and white within your approach; be objective.
There is always room to take valuable lessons from one diet success/failure, and add to your current knowledge and education.
You can get super lean, jacked, skinny, fit, healthy – whatever you want to be – but the goal is to educate throughout the process, so we can have you maintain it!