Choose the diet right for you and “stop with the quick fixes already!” I know I am not the only one that wants to scream that from the top of my lungs!
I am a personal trainer and a nutrition coach and I help people make changes to their day to day routines so they move more and eat better so they can reach their health and fitness goals.
All you have to do is log in to your email, Facebook or other social media account and see all sorts of stories of how someone lost 50 lbs in 2 months by eating __(fill in the blank)__. OK, that may be an exaggeration but you get the picture.
Even with ‘quick fixes’, you still have to put in the consistent effort to be able to get the desired results. So if you find yourself ready to click on the link to find out how you too can get the same result as the person making the claim you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to put in the same effort every day. If the answer is ‘No’, then it may be a good time to ask yourself why you want the change in the first place.
I get that we want to look great and feel amazing. Who wouldn’t! But if you don’t ‘look great and feel amazing’, you need to understand how your actions have brought you to where you are right now. When you have figured that out, you are ready to make some choices to change and take action.
I’m sure you will agree with me that for every choice or action we make there was a consequence or reaction, right?
OK, we agree on that. So, we can choose our actions but we really can’t choose our consequences but we can make an informed decision so, before you jump on the bandwagon for the next magic pill, detox, shortcut, whatever, before you commit, let’s think some of this stuff through first.
Are you only looking to weigh less or are you looking to be smaller, strengthen your body, look better and be healthier? There is a difference.
Why is that quick fix sooo appealing?
Eat only _(fill in the blank)__ for a 5-day detox and you drop 3 dress sizes.
Easy Peasy, right? Cool! Then what do you do on day 6?
Cut all carbs and eat high amounts of fats and you too can lose 50+ pounds of fat in 3 months
But you could start waking up in the middle of the night, struggle to get to sleep, and let’s not talk about the midnight binge on chips and ice cream!
Take this _(fill in the blank)_ pill/supplement and you can lose weight without going to the gym. It’s so easy… I didn’t have to exercise!
What does that pill/supplement do? Is it causing another problem? And what’s wrong with exercise? I get that it can be uncomfortable in the beginning due to muscle soreness but the benefits of movement far outweigh the discomfort you experience when you first start an exercise program like increased energy, stamina, strength, body composition, reduced pain, reduced inflammation, better sleep, and the list can go on. If you don’t have time for it then I would go out on a limb and say you probably not getting enough downtime that your body needs to recover from the days stresses.
Are you going to be able to continue on one of those above plans? Yes, awesome! No, why not? Hmmm… maybe you’re not sure because you didn’t think that far in advance.
If you are counting down the days until the end of the diet then you have not found the type of diet (and I use that word as a eating in general) that is right for you. A healthy way of eating truly needs to be a part of your “lifestyle” to lose weight and keep it off or your lifestyle consists of the diet roller coaster and you will never be happy with the reflection you see in the mirror.
Your body will survive at all costs!
Dropping too much weight too quickly can cause a number of problems and your body WILL rebel. So… let me ask you this… if you lose weight on the scale but you can’t maintain it for one reason or another (it’s too regimented, you’re starving or craving foods, hormone imbalances, health issues develop) … did it work?
Every diet CAN WORK but not every diet is for every body. The right one is the one that will suit your lifestyle but no matter how you choose to eat there are constants that every professional will agree with.
Here’s What Every Body Requires for Health
- You need protein for your bones, and muscles as they are your building blocks
- You need carbs for energy, vitamins, fiber, phytonutrients
- You need fat so your cells are able to absorb those nutrients and hormone production.
- You need to have regular strength training to keep your muscles strong so that your bones can move freely through a range of motion.
- You need to have regular cardio activity to keep your heart strong and your system pumping lots of oxygen through to your cells.
- You need to have regular flexibility training so that your muscles don’t become short and tight so they can move freely through ranges of motion without pain or be causing an injury.
Recovery and relaxation
- You need to make sure you are giving your body time to recover and regenerate, it’s the downtime your body is rebuilding itself.
- You need to make sure you get your stress levels down because high levels for too long can cause hormone imbalances and more serious health diseases caused by chronic inflammation.
A Little About Some Common Diets
There a number of popular diets and some I would consider a ‘quick fix’ because they promise rapid weight loss in the beginning but if they are not followed properly they could cause more harm than good. Their macronutrients breakdown differently. Below is a brief overview of a few of the common diets.
I want to make a point of saying I don’t believe these diets are wrong. I think there is a diet that will work for everyone and not every diet will work for everyone. I think everyone should first look at each of the diets and do some research on them. Then, you need to look at your history. What have you done well with and what do you really struggle with. If you like to have some drinks on the weekend and that’s when you have a tendency to over-indulge then Atkins or the Keto diets may not be the best options for you. But if you don’t have a sweet tooth and you need to reduce inflammation, they may be perfect for you.
All of these diets are common in that they promote whole foods, lean meats, healthy fats, vegetables, and carbs in varying amounts and minimize processed foods.
The Paleo Diet
From The Paleo Diet, the focus of the Paleo Diet is not on ratios, but on eating the foods we evolved to eat and avoiding processed foods. The ratio is a by-product. A healthy Paleo Diet, in fact, doesn’t have an ideal ratio.
As a result, the macronutrient ratios could be vastly different. Hunter-gatherer societies ate anywhere between 22-40% carbohydrates, 19-35% protein, and 28-58% fat.
Macro Ratios=> Flexible
Food Restrictions => High
The Atkins diet
This was the first ‘diet’ I learned about and tried. I remember thinking there are a lot of rules and 4 different phases. I don’t recall if I got to the 3rd phase because I struggled with all the food tracking. It wasn’t food anymore, all I saw was numbers.
During Phase 1, your main focus is limiting the amount of carbs you eat. The goal is to switch how your body’s fuel source from carbs to fat.
Within this first phase, your daily macros to amount to 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% good carbs.
Once you complete the Induction Phase, you’ll move on to the Balance Phase, or Phase 2. In this stage, you’ll slowly add carbs back into your diet by consuming certain foods like nuts and seeds, as well as fruits like blueberries, melons, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
In addition, you’ll slowly increase your carb intake in 5 g increments. For some people, this number can be as low as 30 g to as high as 80 g per day.
You’ll stay in this phase until you’re about 10 lbs away from your target weight.
The goal of Phase 2 is to uncover your ideal carb balance and lose the majority of the excess weight you’re carrying.
Macro Ratios=> Rigid
Food Restrictions => High for phase 1 – Lower for Phase 2,3 and 4
The Mediterranean Diet
The total fat content of the Mediterranean Diet is 25% – 35% of total calories, with saturated fat at 8% or less of total calories. Carbohydrate makes up approximately 50% – 60% of total calorie intake.
The Mediterranean diet is high in salt. Foods such as olives, salt-cured cheeses, capers, anchovies and salads dressed with olive oil contain high levels of salt.
The Mediterranean Diet pyramid differs a little from the more traditional food pyramid. The base of the Mediterranean diet pyramid consists of fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta, breads, rice, couscous and other whole grain products. The next level consists of fish and seafood. Then poultry, eggs, butter, and cheese. The Mediterranean Diet places red meat at the very top, as it is the foods’ group that is most restricted, due to what it believes as potential harmful effects.
Macro Ratios=> Flexible
Food Restrictions => High
The Keto Craze
Everywhere I turn, right now, everything is keto.
The following is taken from an article from Precision Nutrition, The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic meal shoots for near-zero carbs. Most estimates suggest around 10-15 grams of carbs a day. To give you an idea of what this looks like, that’s about one fist-sized portion of cooked carrots or about 10-15 grapes. For the whole day.
They specify what you can eat but they also specify what you can’t eat. Most people will find it difficult to give up one or two things from the following list.
Here’s what you can’t eat on a ketogenic diet:
- Most dairy (except high-fat items like butter and certain cheeses)
- Grains, breads
- Beans and legumes
- Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- Slightly-sweet vegetables such as winter squash, beets, or carrots
- Most processed foods (with the notable exception of pork rinds)
The article answers who the diet is best suited for people who need an effective short-term treatment for metabolic dysfunction such as poor glucose control / early Type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, or hypertension. It also goes into detail about other reasons it may not be the best choice for others because it is to hard to consistently follow, it takes a long time to have a measurable effect, and for some populations, ketosis has little or no effect.
Macro Ratios=> Rigid
Food Restrictions => High
The Zone Diet
This one is my favourite and the way I have been eating for the last 3 years. In the beginning, I didn’t realize that this was the Zone diet. I first learned to eat by looking at my hand for portion sizes from Precision Nutrition and occasionally, I would track my food in an app to see if I was getting enough calories and I noticed my macros balanced around the 40/30/30 split. I don’t think about tracking anymore because I look to my hand size to do the calculating for me – my palm for protein, cupped hand for complex (starchy) carbs, a fist of vegetables and a thumb of healthy fats.
The Zone Diet is essentially a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet that includes moderate amounts of fat. To achieve “The Zone”, every meal and snack should provide 40% of calories from carbohydrate, 30% from protein and 30% from fat. This is a 40:30:30 macronutrient ratio.
The Zone Diet is the one that my body feels and functions the best on.
Macro Ratios=> Moderate
Food Restrictions => Moderate to low
I understand the draw to the Headlines that promise the ‘blue oceans’, your dream body without the effort. Marketers are taught to reach that part of us that will buy whatever they are selling. I have fallen prey to them in the past, as well. The quick fix or the short-term diet only help you lose a couple of pounds on the scale and during that time, you are miserable, uncomfortable, cranky, and counting down the days until you can go back to ‘normal’. It’s that ‘normal’ that needs to change for lasting weight loss and good health.
I would love to know what diets and forms of eating you have tried and what works best for you. Share that with me in the comments
If you are tired of the roller coaster and you want to get off for good, send me a message. Let’s connect. I can help you learn how to create your ‘new’ normal.