There’s a lot of confusion about specific diets because we tend to give them more power than they deserve.
There’s principles you need to achieve to reach your goal whether that’s fat loss, gaining or plain getting healthier. The diet you choose is the method to help you achieve that principle to reach your goal.
To lose fat you have to be in a calorie deficit, to gain muscle you need to strength train and eat enough protein, and it does make it easier to be in small calorie surplus.
To get healthier you may need to be in a calorie deficit if losing fat will improve your health, or gain if you’re underweight.
The point here is to be strict with the goal and principle, but be flexible with the approach and diet you use to get you there.
The thing a lot of people don’t talk about when it comes to being an advocate about a certain diet for fat loss is the single fact that their diet isn’t magic, it just helps you to better adhere to the principle.
Effective diets also have a heavy focus on high satiety protein, veggies, fruits, starches and healthy fat sources, and remove high calorie processed foods that are easy to overeat.
Pick a diet you enjoy, that you can see yourself following for at least six months from now instead of trying to white knuckle it for the next three months on a diet you hate before giving up.
While there isn’t a perfect diet for everyone there’s going to be one that you enjoy and find easier to follow than others.
In this blog series we’re going to cover the most popular diets and break them down to give you the full story behind them and the pros and cons behind them.
THE KETOGENIC DIET
We mine as well start this diet breakdown blog with the diet I get asked about more than any other, and is extremely popular these days.
First a little history, the ketogenic diet was developed for drug resistant epileptic children because researchers noticed when the kids were fasted the kids their seizures greatly reduced.
However it was considered immoral and not good from a health perspective to consistently starve children while fasting them. The researchers needed a diet that mimics starvation while still eating, and the result is the ketogenic diet.
Keto is a very low carb diet, where you eat between 30-50g per day, and includes moderate protein and a much higher fat intake.
You focus on fatty cuts of meat, extra healthy fats and limited non starchy vegetables. When the body is starts breaking down the large amount of fat the byproduct is ketones, which are a third source of fuel outside carbs and fats.
Just as with any diet keto may suite some well, while other people are miserable on it.
To lose fat you need to create a calorie deficit and by removing all carbs you remove a food group and in essence can eat fewer calories.
For some you who are very sedentary or are very obese and don’t need a ton of carbs keto can help to better manage appetite, because protein, fat and veggies are highly satiating.
Some of you will lose weight on the scale very quickly due to large amounts of water weight being lost.
For those who have blood sugar management issues keto can be helpful, but if you have diabetes definitely work with a professional and consult with your doctor before making any extreme changes to your diet.
For higher end athletes or people who have a strong preference for carbs, there are some drawbacks to keto as it can hinder performance for athletes who rely on carbs highly explosive sports.
At the end of the day keto isn’t magic but it can help those who it fits well to better manage their appetite, have strict guidelines to follow and can cause a big drop on the scale in a short amount of time.
Continuing on with our diet breakdown blog lets look at the next hottest trend in nutrition these days, Fasting!
Fasting has been around in one form or another in every religion for as long as we’ve been around.
Fasting comes in many different forms and can be something such as avoiding all calories together or avoiding certain food groups or eating extremely low calories for a few days.
We’ve just started to get hip to it as a tool for fat loss in the fitness industry, and the most common version is strictly avoiding calories for a set period of time.
In essence you avoid eating or drinking any calories usually for around 16-24 hours, then consume all your daily calories in a smaller time frame.
This is known as a compressed eating window, and this can help you follow specific rules and dramatically decrease the amount of calories you eat on a daily basis.
While fasting works as a great tool for a lot of folks, it’s not always going to be a great fit for everyone.
Fasting is not going to be a good fit for athletes with multiple training sessions per day, people with a lot of sleep issues, women who are pregnant or some people who already have a ton of stress in their life as fasting is a stressor.
There’s no real “off limit” foods when it comes to fasting it’s about when you eat, and when you don’t that really makes this diet unique.
Some of the benefits from a fat loss perspective with fasting is getting you to eat larger more satisfying meals. This keeps you fuller for longer time allows you to naturally reduce calories.
Fasting can also help you with insulin sensitivity, cognitive focus and in my opinions helps you build discipline with food choices.
Fasting also gives you a structure of when to start/stop eating, and is helpful as a lot of you probably don’t really care about breakfast, and tend of overeat a lot of calorie dense foods at night.
For the right people fasting can be a game changer, but there’s no secret sauce to it when it comes to fat loss, it helps to create a calorie deficit.
Just about every diet today is based on excluding certain foods or macronutrients, and has specific off limit foods.
If you’re paleo you avoid grains,legumes, dairy, sugar and alcohol while if you were vegan you don’t eat animal products, and with keto you avoid denser carbs all together.
Flexible dieting is much different than these diets as there is no specific off limit foods, instead of excluding specific food groups you focus on making the foods that you enjoy fit within your target calorie and macronutrient goals.
The foods you choose to hit your specific calorie, macronutrient and fiber targets is up to you to decide.
Before we get much further I want to dispel a common flexible dieting myth that it’s a pro junk food diet and promotes only eating doughnuts and ice cream to lose weight.
Selling the idea of eating junk food all the time was never the point of this diet, regardless of what you see on Instagram.
The main idea behind flexible dieting is that the majority of your food should come from natural whole food sources like lean proteins, vegetables, denser carbs, fruit and healthy fats.
Flexible dieting has never been about eating as much junk food you can, at the end of the day any diet should be based around improving your health, as well as reaching your physique goals.
Then with the remaining 15-20% of your calories you have the flexibility to kick your heels up and enjoy some treats or indulgences.
A well put together flexible dieting structure will naturally control the amount of junk food you can eat and still hit your calorie, macronutrient and fiber goals.
This diet is a good framework to help remove the restrictive ideas around dieting where you feel that certain foods are off limits or can’t be consumed because you’re dieting.
When you feel like there is no food that is off limits suddenly the shame, guilt and judgment around food choices goes away and you’re set free recognizing there is no food that stops fat loss.
You can finally stop feeling bad about craving sugar, having a few glasses of wine or having a date night out with your significant other, and this way of eating becomes more of a lifestyle because you have food freedom!
Some of the down sides of this diet is it does require you to track your calories and macros in the beginning which isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone.
Others will get a little too flexible with their diet and see just how much junk they can fit in and end up feeling like crap because of it.
The benefits of this diet is you become very aware of how many calories many common foods you eat contain, and learn real portion sizes.
You also get your food freedom back and feel less restricted because there are no off limit foods, and you’re able to build your diet around your lifestyle instead of the other way around.
If you’re still confused about diets, and how to organize a nutrition plan so you can enjoy the way you eat while still getting amazing results click HERE and let’s chat about your goals and how we can reach them in a sustainable way that becomes a lifestyle for you.