It is this time of year that people often, with the best of intentions, think about starting a new fitness regime, training programme or “diet” for that summer body.
But have you ever wondered why so many people fall of the wagon or end up gaining all the weight they lost back in 3, 4, 5, 6 months? Why is this diet stuff so complicated?
Answer – Because we live in the age of information overload!
It’s much easier to blame the source of the problem on carbs, fat, gluten, sugar, lack of probiotic gut flora…etc. than to look at the real underlying issue…
And who can blame you? There seems to be a newspaper article, news blurb or “study” every week telling you what you should and shouldn’t be eating.
A few decades ago dietary fat was seen as bad. Not just bad, but “If you eat any fat you’re going to have a heart attack before your 30th birthday” Level bad.
Food companies were very proud to announce what products they made were low in fat. Cereal boxes had “low in fat” stamped right there on the front of the box – they still do.
“You mean Weetabix, Cornflakes and Special K isn’t made from bacon fat or olive oil? Thanks for that knowledge bomb Kellogg’s”
Then, gradually, this position started to change….and suddenly…. fats were the good guy. Carbs were the real “enemy” – a Trojan horse – and just like the low fat craze that came before it, people started to proclaim that carbs had to be eliminated from the diet.
Now the war on sugar, grains and wheat/gluten had arrived – books such a Wheat Belly, Gary Taubes “Why we get fat and what to do about it”, along with a resurgence of the Atkins diet all conveying the same message…
“Carbs are bad….hmm..kay”
“Science” as usual, had plenty of data/research to back up this fairy tale story (you can find a study to support just about any scientific position you wish to take).
As a result, people would start dropping carbs, lose some water and glycogen weight in a few days, and proclaim that indeed, it was the carbs that was making them fat all along. Don’t believe me – try cutting your carbs down to 50g per day for a few days and see what happens to the scale weight. You’re welcome!
People who lost weight on low carb diets became carbophobic – which still exists to a large degree today.
No longer did you have to actually worry about calories. It was really just eliminating a particular food source/macro that was the problem.
Somewhere along the way, the Paleo crazy sprung up, and told us that it was indeed ok to eat carbs… long as they were the type of carbs our ancestors ate….such as sweet potatoes or paleo cookies (I hope you can sense the sarcasm in that statement).
The Paleo movement initially started with good intentions…..until it went full retard!
E.g: “You can’t eat peanuts. They’re a legume. Cavemen wouldn’t have eaten them. Peanuts are bad….hmm..kay”
Paleo morphed into all sorts of weird variations and people ended up in heated debates on what was and wasn’t really “Paleo”. I’m talking about guys arguing on diet forums for hours about whether a sweet potato or white potato is more paleo approved!
Skip forward to recent years and we have IIFYM – aka: If It Fits Your Macros
Once again, what started off as a great concept, was eventually bastardized by people who somehow arrived at the conclusion that there was no difference in Oreos and Broccoli. That’s not even a joke sadly…. some people really believe there is virtually no difference in doughnuts and potatoes – but we won’t go there.
Hopefully by now you can see where I am going with this story and I don’t need to elaborate further…
Firstly, I’d highly recommend anyone reading this to stop thinking about Paleo, Keto, Carb-cycling, Atkins, Low fat, Low carb, South Beach, Juice Cleansing and keep this simple….
Yes, you can actually get lean on high carbs/low fat
Yes, you can actually get lean eating high fat/low carb
Yes, you can still eat foods you actually enjoy that don’t taste like cardboard and get lean
RULE 1) If you need to lose fat, you need a calorie deficit.
RULE 2) If you need to gain weight/mass, you need a calorie surplus.
Here are 3 basic steps you can take RIGHT NOW!
STEP 1: START KEEPING A FOOD DIARY – sign up with a free account on MyFitnessPal or a similar application. These contain just about every food you can think of (including fast food) that is built into the database and all you have to do is type it in. This takes 10-15 minutes per day at most. Don’t be lazy, just get into the habit of doing this.
STEP 2) GET A FOOD SCALE AND SOME MEASURING CUPS – for your whole foods and begin calculating and logging what you’re taking in. For example; you eat a bowl of oats or some other kind of cereal for breakfast, either weigh out the portion or simply use measuring cups (these can be found in most culinary/cooking supply shops). You’ll be surprised just how much a recommended serving size is compared to what you may actually be consuming without realizing it.
For pre-packaged food, read the label or if you’re using an app, you should be able to find it in the food database easy enough.
STEP 3) DEDICATE – At least 2-3 weeks towards monitoring and calculating your daily food intake. Don’t try to change anything drastic with your food choices or caloric consumption just figure out what your average starting point is. THIS ISN’T A DIET! You can’t start to take action if you don’t know your starting point….this is no different than training. Be honest with yourself. If you ate 3 packets of hobnobs on the weekend, put it down or track it.
Yes, this will suck at first, but when you get to the point where you can take a week of diet logs and have a better picture of how many calories and how many grams of protein, carbs,fats..etc. you’re consuming on average, your battle is half way done.
The basic idea is you want to know how many calories you average on a daily basis. It’s a good idea to weigh yourself regularly during this period of time to see any potential fluctuations…which WILL happen due to changes in fluid/glycogen stores (this isn’t something to have a nervous breakdown over and what you weigh on the scale as little bearing on the amount of body fat you carry).
People’s metabolisms vary A LOT. You can have two people of the exact same size and activity levels, yet there can still be a huge difference in caloric requirements. This is something they don’t tell you at “weight watchers”. The human body doesn’t work like a calculator and it’s not always as simple as “eat less and move more” or if you eat a X amount of calories or “points” everything will be wonderful.
Before you can implement a plan of action or start to answer “what should I eat?” or talking about specific diets – you first need to get a picture of what you’re consuming right now!
Yes, you may eat “clean” foods – but how MUCH are you actually eating?
You had chicken and rice for dinner, great – but how much did you actually eat?
If nothing else, you’ll have a level of knowledge that you didn’t have previously by doing this and have a much better understanding of what steps you need to take to get you to your goal without resorting to drastic or unrealistic measures such cutting out carbs, licking 3 lemons a day or lettuce smoothies.
While I am unable to cover a specific action plan for each and every person who reads this in a FB post…. if you don’t know your starting point, then how do you know what to do next?
For more information, help or enquiries please email me –