With so many diets circulating the globe, it can be hard to find the one that will produce results. Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole30, keto, the list goes on and on. With so many options to choose from, it can be pretty confusing trying to determine which one will be right for you. Or maybe you have tried a few of these diets, only to find that you’re not losing the weight or the inches that you want. What gives?
When it comes to dieting, most of us are looking for quick results. Often, we start diets and jump in with both feet. We meal prep, hit the gym and follow a strict schedule. This typically lasts all of four or five days because then comes Friday, and since we believe we have had a “good week”, we decide to reward ourselves with some cocktails at happy hour or a slice of cake at our kids’ birthday party.
Then Saturday comes along with play dates, social events and crazy extra-curricular schedules, so we find ourselves eating on the go, munching on appetizers and mindlessly downing beers at the football game.
Now it’s Sunday and you find you have no food in the house, so you may meet some ladies for brunch and maybe attend a few more social events before finally hitting the grocery stores to prep for the week. You will “start Monday” as you have been saying week after week after week. And you do! But the reality is four out of seven days is roughly 57% of your week. So if the other 43% is spent off your “diet”, then it makes sense why you never see much progress on the scale or in the mirror.
Calories In Versus Calories Out and a Negative Energy Balance:
Regardless of what “diet” you may choose from the exhaustive list above, the simple fact is that in order to lose weight/body fat, you must create a negative energy balance. What this means is that you must be taking in less energy (calories) than you are expending. The calories-in side of this equation is the sum of all the food and drink you consume. The calories-out side of this equation is the sum of your body’s resting energy expenditure (BMR), your physical activity through exercise (i.e. gym classes, sports practice, resistance training, etc.), your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (everything you do that is not a typical workout i.e. walking through the grocery store, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, etc.), and the energy from the breakdown of the foods you eat; TEF or thermic effect of food (very small percentage).
So regardless of which “diet” you choose to follow, you must be at a consistent negative energy balance over time.
Have you ever heard the saying “diets don’t’ work”? Well that’s because they don’t. See, a “diet” implies a set amount of time in which to stay “on” a diet. You may have heard about the 30-day diet at your local gym, or the 6-week challenge that promises a total body transformation. Anybody can do something for 30 days or 6 weeks at a time! And then what? Are we just supposed to go back to our normal daily routines before the diet? The same routines that got us to where we were in the first place when we were desperately seeking out our next “diet” plan?
The answer lies in your mind. In order to achieve lasting results, we must think of this as a new lifestyle and not simply a diet. By making changes to our everyday habits and routines, we ensure that we not only reach our goals, but that we sustain them long term.
It’s kind of like growing a flower. We plant the seed and tend to it every single day. Creating new habits, watering it meticulously, making changes to the sunlight and caring for it day in and day out until it finally blooms into a beautiful flower. We have reached our goal! Do we just walk away then? We hit our goal, right? If we just walk away and stop watering and caring for the flower, does it not die? If we hit our goal weight and walk away from the healthy habits, how do we expect to maintain all our hard work?
It works very much the same way. We must instead begin to shift our mindset to that of a lifestyle change rather than a “diet”.
The reason this lifestyle change phenomenon has yet to catch on is likely because it’s argulably the “longer route” and in today’s world, ain’t nobody got time for that! So instead, those 10lbs in 10 day diets look very appealing.
I am sure you have a friend, relative, or maybe you are this person, who has done countless “diets” only to end the diet and regain the weight and then some. How much time have you wasted on this yo-yo cycle? Sure, you may have dropped some weight, but when you gain it all back, was it worth it? Was it worth your time? Instead, you could have invested that time into changing your habits and lifestyle. Slowly but surely and over time you would not only manage to lose the weight, but keep it off!
Choosing The Right Diet For You
So what diet is right for you? The simple fact is, the best diet for you is one that you can stick to long term. If you love meat, then veganism or vegetarianism is probably not for you. Choose a diet rich in wholesome fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, have some animal products if you like them! Fit in a small piece of chocolate at night if you enjoy that! But don’t go overboard. Too much of anything is not healthy! So focus on small changes, replacing some extra helpings of cake with a bowl of fruit, or replacing soda pop with water and lemon. Small changes to your routine. Focus on these every single day and over time they will become habits. They will become involuntary, just as some of your bad habits are now. You won’t even think twice when you reach for the water rather than the Pepsi out of the drink dispenser.
Stick with it. Remember, time + consistency = results. Long-term, sustainable results.