Is it intermittent fasting? Low carb? Low fat? Keto? Weight watchers? Slimming world? Or the 6-week get shredded FAST meal plan Sally is selling you to get you to drop two dress sizes in 6 weeks?
For the sake of society today (the obesity epidemic, in particular) I really wish that the answer was simple. The science is pretty simple but the practicality of it isn’t.
The number 1 reason ANY DIET WORKS EVER is because you are in a calorie deficit.
END OF CONVERSATION.
Don't know what a calorie deficit is? Chat with me!
More than often, someone is trying to tell you that ‘this diet’ (insert diet plan they are trying to sell here) works because of X, Y, Z.
You know all the bullsh** lines here they use for marketing – ‘With this diet, you don’t even need to exercise’, ‘with this diet, you can eat WHATEVER you want and still lose weight’, blah, blah, blah….
I want you to become acutely aware that IF the diet does in fact work, it works because that person is in a CALORIE DEFICIT.
Energy balance 101.
Calories in (Food & Drink) vs Calories out (Basal Metabolic Rate, Thermic Effect of Food, Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis & Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) – See my recent post on Instagram for a full explanation of this.
There are other factors that are important to consider with regards to this, conditions such as PCOS, however, to keep things simple, for the sake of this post, diets work BECAUSE they put you in a calorie deficit.
To quote Emilia Thomson, PHD – ‘You don’t have to count calories but calories still count.’
In order of importance with regards to Fat loss:
1. Energy Balance
4. Meal Timing
5. Supplements (NOT DIET PILLS, BTW, throw them away)
The diet that works BEST is the one that works for you. Flexible dieting is probably the best approach as it allows people the freedom to eat the foods they like so they DO NOT feel restricted.
If you put someone on a strict diet and tell them they can’t have – pasta, chocolate, pizza, etc. It is never going to be SUSTAINABLE.
Tell someone not to think of a pink elephant, they are going to think of a pink elephant.
So, what works best?
It really depends on the person and ALL my clients are different.
This is why I feel one-to-one coaching is vital to people's success with regards to the sustainability of a 'diet', for want of a better word. I prefer to say - build better habits that are sustainable. Knowledge Empowers You - KEY!
I will talk a little bit about my own journey, as that is the one I have every right to comment on.
I personally (unintentionally) sometimes, intermittent fast. However, if I ever wake up hungry, I eat breakfast with a big smile on my face!
I’m not really a breakfast person & I work from home so it suits me to skip it as I can eat whenever I get hungry. I am my own boss so I’m pretty sound for giving myself a break whenever I get peckish!
But for some people, they MUST eat breakfast every day and that is PERFECT! For them, intermittent fasting is a TERRIBLE idea.
Therefore, my window of eating tends to be smaller and thus, I find it easier to remain within my calories. I also have tracked for quite a while and so I can pretty much guesstimate calories in my head before I’ve even put things into MyFitnessPal so I know roughly what calories I’ll be averaging out at the end of the day. It is also vital to consider weekly averages, energy balance doesn't work off a 24-hour clock so if I go over my calories on Monday, it DOES NOT MEAN I put on weight on Tuesday. It is your actions over time that are important.
I am also a creature of habit & when I am at home, I tend to eat similar meals and by similar, I mean nearly the same most weeks….
I am very boring when it comes to cooking, so I really don’t find it too difficult for me to stay within my calories.
But this took years of practice and LEARNING and making MISTAKES.
I hit my protein every day (definitely not the last two weeks though – HOLIDAYS & I feel worse for it).
After calories, this is NUMBER 1. Protein is vital for overall cell function not just for the GAINZ & keeps you fuller for longer.
But Nerissa, I went low carb for two weeks and dropped half a stone!
Yes, you probably did, to which my response will be: did you keep it off?
You dropped weight for a few reasons – you cut out an entire macronutrient from your diet and thus, created a calorie deficit, and also, 1g of carbohydrate stores 4g of water. This is NOT FAT! So you essentially dropped water weight.
But what I always say to my clients, unless you are a gymnast or a jockey, does what you physically weigh really matter?
Are you connected to your gravitational force on the earth, or would you rather your jeans fit a bit better?
A big secret to drop here – you don’t have to cut carbs out to do that!
A recent study also found that there is NO DIFFERENCE in weight loss between low carb & low fat. Bubble burst for the #ketowarriors.
So, if you want to lose weight (fat), and you know what calories are and how to manage them effectively for fat loss, by all means, do not feel like you need to cut out whole food groups.
If you are so frazzled by the misinformation out there online, hire a coach/nutritionist.
It is literally what they are there for. But make sure they aren’t trying to sell you meal plans. Cause that is a pile of SHIT & you learn nothing from someone telling you what to eat for 6 - 12 weeks!
Your diet needs to be sustainable and in my opinion, that would always sway me towards flexible dieting & educating yourself on principles of nutrition.
Remember - KEY: Knowledge Empowers You.