Finding balance is never an easy task. Especially when it comes to reaching your fitness/health goals. If you look on the internet for the “Quickest” way to drop fat, you will find plenty of weight loss solutions. Weight Watchers, Keto, Atkins, Paleo, Ideal Protein. Do any of these sound familiar? I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’ve tried one or two of the following diets. My question is, did they work? and if not, do you know why? If it didn’t work for you, the reason may be simple. It’s not because it’s wrong, or that it doesn’t work. It may not be right for you! I myself have tried so many different approaches. Each time leaving me with more fat than when I started (rebound).
Before I left for Bali (November 2016), I had been on a reverse diet from CBBF Nationals 2016. I was slowly upping my calories, while decreasing my cardio routine to get back to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. My daily carb intake was still quite low while my protein was high and my fats were moderate. I was on a slow reverse, but it wasn’t so slow that I was losing patience and hungry all the time. I was however avoiding certain food items out of old habits. No sugar, and no dairy. I’m sure you can guess the rest. I would stick to my staple foods during the week and then of course, the weekend was a “Cheat Meal”. I considered my cheats somewhat ‘Clean’ because I was making a concious effort of incorporating whole foods. I would have Steak and Potatoes and usually Caesar Salad (my absolute favorite meal). For dessert, I would either make Protein Cookie Dough (protein powder, oats, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and chocolate chips melted in the microwave), or go for FROYO. The problem for me with this approach is that I’m still labeling certain foods as bad foods. I’m waiting for the weekned to treat myself and go hard! Is chocolate bad? When you eat an entire bag of mini eggs in one sitting, it’s probably not the best. But is it bad in moderation? No. Is protein powder bad? No. But when i combine it with loads of peanut butter, oats and chocolate chips, the overall calories are higher than if I would have just measured out a serving of iced cream. MODERATION!
When I went to Bali, I ate out for every meal during the day. My goal was to try a Keto type approach, or something similar to it (high fats, moderate protein, low carb). I was trying to stick to salads in hopes that I could at least get a good-sized amount of protein with each meal along with some healthy fats. Unfortunately, that was never the case. I would receive a large amount of fats, and hardly any protein (2 ounces tops). Essentially for a month straight I was consuming mainly just fats. The lack of macronutrients, mixed with the heavy amount of daily activity and the heat resulted in a change in my body shape. I was smaller, but I also lost muscle. PLUS! I really missed carbs. So, what does one do? Binge of course! Iced cream, chocolate, and bread. All the good stuff that I was trying to avoid. When we came back for Christmas, I instantly increased my protein and kept my fats the same (increase in overall calories). Mix that with some holiday goodies, less daily activity and you have yourself a rebound.
Certain Diet’s don’t work for certain people, because they aren’t sustainable or maintainable. If you can picture yourself following a diet approach for over a year, I would say that is the diet that’s suitable for you. I personally love all foods too much (sugar included) to totally cut anything out. The higher fat approach didn’t work for me, because as soon as I’m on holidays or at an event, it’s not realistic for me to follow. My current goal, is to gain muscle and not avoid foods that I love while doing so. To focus on portion control, rather than cutting certain foods out of my life because I allow it to have control over me. I’m looking to feel healthier and happier. To me, that doesn’t equate to obsessing over things that I can’t have. Sugar (carbs), and Peanut Butter (fats) are not BAD for you. They can hinder your progress, if you don’t monitor the amount in which you consume them. One serving (125ml) of iced cream is roughly 25 grams of carbs and 5-7 grams of fat. I’ve LOST fat while consuming this daily, on a prep for nationals. Because I monitored the rest of my food sources and made sure that all my other macronutrients were in check. If you’re consuming whole foods for 80% of your diet, and hitting your fiber goals, why can’t you save room for something sweet to stop a possible future binge? When women tell me that they’ve been so great with their diet and they haven’t had sugar in “X” number of months, I worry. Because I wonder if that is truly a long-term possibility for them. I wonder when they will binge, gain all the weight back and end up depressed. Before you chose a diet to follow, establish your goals:
1. Do you need to lose weight, or gain muscle? This I feel is the most common mistake that women make. They want to look different, so they assume they need to lose weight. When most of the time, they need to gain muscle to fill out and get some tone in their shape.
2. Before you determine either, establish where your current daily caloric intake is. Is it high enough to withstand a cut if fat loss is your goal?
3. Can you see yourself sticking to this dieting approach for longer than a few months?
4. Do the potential benefits outweigh the potential rebound?
5. Will you constantly feel as if you’re missing out and that you may binge in the future?
To simplify a little, most diets involve a restriction of a certain macronutrient (fats or carbs). If you cut sugar, you’re cutting carbs (4 calories per gram) and overall calories. If you cut fats (9 calories per gram) you’re cutting calories at a faster rate. Why not find an in between? Can you honestly say you will never eat fat or carbs again? Be mindful and just like anything else, do your research and seek help from professionals in the industry before making any drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle approaches in fitness and in health.
The photot on the left is restrciting certain foods from my diet, while photo on the right is focusing more on moderration. My goal between photos was to build muscle and get a bigger behind! While finding a balance and a healthy relationship with the foods I love.