‘How do you lose weight?” ; one of, if not the, most common questions a Personal Trainer will hear from a client. The answer to this simple 5-word question is something which so many people spend years searching for answers in the crowded marketplace of fad-diets, outrageous detox programmes, and frankly ridiculous products that hold absolutely f**k all legitmacy in healthy, sustainable ways to lose weight.
The truth is, there is a reason why you see trends in fad dieting change on such a regular basis: because of the simple fact that they DO NOT work when trying to improve, implement, and sustain healthy changes to one’s nutrition and lifestyle. Think about it; how many times have you seen an article in the media with a headline similar to this:
” [Insert Crazy Diet HERE] : THIS be YOUR solution to LOSE 5 STONE IN 5 DAYS “
Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration; but you catch my drift. This is such a big issue in my opinion, as it has resulted in the steady growth of ‘Yo-Yo Dieters‘ who spend f**k loads of money on diet products and foods that, in the long term, end out getting them absolutely nowhere. If anything, this sort of lifestyle has an overwhelmingly NEGATIVE impact on individual psychology, due to the constant perception that one is failing in their attempt to better their health. When, in reality, the real failure is that of these grim products and predatory corporates who prey on those in need and charge a f**k-off premium for complete sh*te.
Rant over. In this article, I am going to explain WHY these sorts of diet DO NOT WORK; and instead offer tried-and-tested advice that will stimulate sustainable, long-lasting change in YOUR life that will enable you to meet and exceed your physique goals.
What is a ‘diet‘?
Stupid question? A Diet is one of those restrictive nutrition programmes that focuses on limiting one’s intake of particular foods, and instead concentrating on individual ‘health’ foods that have mythical and magical powers to shed pounds just by meer consumption, right?
Well, the Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘diet’ is as follows: “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” This shows the most common misconception about exactly WHAT a diet is: in reality, we all are on a diet. Regardless of whether it is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ diet, if you consume/choose not to consume ANY food or drink in the day, then you are by definition on a diet.
However for the purposes of THIS article, I will use the term ‘diet’ in reference to the former definition; i.e. a specific type of nutritional programme that restricts/allows particular types of food (e.g. low-carb), and/or promotes specific eating habits when it comes to meal times (e.g. Fasting).
**DISCLAIMER** The Opinions and Views expressed in this article are based on personal experience both with myself and my clients. The fact remains that many particular ways of eating CAN improve long-term health IF that particular lifestyle works for a particular individual. I am NOT trying to promote or condemn any style of eating; instead I will aim to educate you about the common pitfalls of certain restrictive diets, and how you can shift your mindset towards more sustainable, long-term change.
The Problems with ‘Diet Culture’
The large majority of fad diets are incredibly strict, encouraging those who partake to limit particular foods due to their supposed negative impact on health, whilst also (NOT always) promoting particular products, powders, or shakes that supposedly further one’s efforts to achieve their goals.
Many of these dietary approaches are marketed towards drastic changes to one’s body composition or bodyweight in a short period of time; meaning that their adverts convey bold statements like ‘lose 3 stone in 3 weeks‘. Yet, when it comes to the end of that 3/6/12 weeks, where do you go from there? It leaves you stranded, where you were before embarking on the diet, WITHOUT any sustainable behaviour change strategies at your disposal.
Furthermore, I can personally testify to the negative psychological impacts of ‘diet culture’, having suffered from severe anorexia during my teenage years. During this period, through the use of social media, I became exposed and transfixed on different diets aimed at losing weight; after having tried various different approaches, it got to the point where pretty much every food had been demonised in my mind’s eye. My personal history with this issue is living proof of how detrimental ‘diet culture’ can have on one’s thought processes and psychology.
Diet Products : Yay or Nay?
For the most part, diet products are a bit of a scam. As I previously mentioned, certain nutrition companies (no names mentioned because I am a good by) take advantage of people’s desperation to lose weight, and end up charging a ridiculous amount of money for laboratory-made products that almost certainly do not live up to their brash claims on adverts and packaging.
Be very mindful when you pick up a diet product in the supermarket or online, as there is very little regulation when it comes to marketing health products. Apart from those which say things like ‘low sugar,’ ‘low fat’, or ‘sugarfree’ (for which there is SPECIFIC criteria that must be tested and met in order to make this claim), there is nothing at all to stop someone using vocabulary that suggests incredible health benefits where there are none.
To illustrate this further, check out these fascinating Infographics from Graeme Tomlinson (@thefitnesschef_)
So, What Type Of Diet Is The Best?!
The answer is there is no answer!! There is NO such thing as ‘the best diet for weight loss’, or ‘the best diet for gaining size’; diet is one of the most INDIVIDUAL things ever, whereby you have to take a whole range of personal factors into consideration before picking the most appropriate nutritional approach.
Contrary to the claims made by many on the internet trying to flog you some crazy ass products for a bargain monthly sub of £999.99, there is no such thing as a ‘One-size-fits-all approach’ when it comes to diet and nutrition.
There are pros and cons for the more scientifically-backed dietary approaches, such as Keto, Plant-Based, Vegan etc.; but ultimately, these approaches WILL help you achieve a goal ONLY if you are able to conistently hit your target daily calorie intake over a prolonged period of time!
If you need a hand identifying the most appropriate nutritional approach for you, your lifetyle and your fitness goals, Get At Me for a FREE ZOOM CONSULTATION and potentially look into joining my team of athletes!!
Getting A Grip On Your Nutrition in the Long Term
So we have discussed how toxic the world of Detoxes, Juicing and No-Carb Diets is both physically and psychologically; but how do you find the path to your health and fitness goals?
Nutrition is usually ~80% responsible for the progress you make with your health and fitness, so it is paramount that you nail your diet on the head (or there and thereabouts) for you to achieve your dreams. However, as this whole article suggests, it is highly unlikely you will find the approach best suited for you on the internet.
It all starts with determining YOUR maintenance calories; i.e. the number of calories you would need to consume to maintain your current bodyweight based on height, weight, and activity level among other factors. Use this awesome online calculator in order to avoid the wealth of complex equations on the internet; for someone like myself who is chronically retarded when it comes to numbers, this resource has been a god-send for both myserlf and my clients…
Once you have identified your calorie target appropriate for your goals, you should then look at your current diet and track 4-7 days’ worth of food using MyFitnessPal. This will help give you a better understanding of how far off your target daily intake you are.
Now comes the hard part: implementing sustainable changes into your current nutrition and lifestyle through small, steady steps that will slowly become engrained and, eventually, become your normal routine. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Habit Change – improving common habits that come to the detriment of your progress, such as excessive snacking, skipping much-needed meals, or binge-drinking at the weekend
- Broader Lifestyle Changes – studies show that those who adopt an active and healthy lifestyle are much more likely to make healthy choices when it comes to nutrition
- Removing ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Labels – stop thinking that Maccers is ‘bad’, and Broccoli is ‘good’; yes, the latter is much more nutritionally sound, and yes, the former is probably not the healthiest choice (to say the least). But, labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can lead you down the same trap that I fell into when I was ill: demonising almost all foods to the point at which you become miserable.
These are just a few of the strategies that have helped my athletes achieve their goals. If I were to sum up the most effective approach when it comes to nutrition, it would be as follows:
Sustainable Change doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, trust the process, and continue making small, manageable changes over time that eventually become a natural, automated part of everyday lifeH. Gripper, Wise Old Sage
The Final Word
The 21st Century loves a good fad diet. Whether we talkin’ Noom, Paleo, Whole30, Atkins, Long Beach; you name it, it’s probably been some sort of crazy diet over the years. The fact of the matter, though, remains: that is that there is no one shoe to fit all the feet if you catch my drift.
Nutrition is something very individual, and should remain so. I can help you find the most appropriate nutritional strategy that will enable you to lose weight, fell happy and healthy, whilst also factoring in all the foods or drinks that you love. As my athletes will testify, I love the saying “80/20 ; everything in moderation”.
Don’t fall into that dreadful trap that our Diet Culture wants you to fall in. Don’t believe all of the sh*te you read in the media, and if some new dietary fad is backed up by a so-called ‘study’, be sure to check its legitimacy. Chances are, it will either be a dubious source, or the data in a study has been manipulated and misunderstood in order to try and rationalise a crazy new diet.
Anyway, that’s that; join me in the ‘Death to Diet Culture’ movement, whereby we celebrate the joys of food and drink whilst SIMULTANEOUSLY achieving our goals in the long term. If YOU want to do so, get in touch and Join my Growing Team of Athletes!
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