In an overwhelming world full of crazy and conflicting diet protocols, “fat burning” supplements and waist slimming belts, it’s hard to know the best and most effective way to lose weight. I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s so very simple - it all comes down to calories in vs calories out. Unless you have some kind of disorder preventing you from losing weight, if you are burning more calories than you consume in a day, then you’re going to lose weight. As simple as this is, it’s not easy, but there are strategies to help you in your journey. Let’s take a closer look.
The problem with fad diets
I see a lot of diets that promote or guarantee results, I’ve even tried a few of these myself. Some work great, others not so much. But the main correlation between all of these diets, whether it’s keto, intermittent fasting or supplementing, is a reduction of calories. If you’re reducing your sugar intake, then you’re reducing calories. If you skip breakfast, you’re reducing calories. When you cut out all processed carbs, you’re reducing calories. See where I’m going with this?
Most diets work because they call for a reduction in calories, which in turn will promote weight loss. The problem, especially with diets where you majorly reduce one macronutrient, is that they are not sustainable. Once the goal is achieved and the diet is done, usually one would go back to their regular diet, and then the weight slowly starts to come back. If you want to keep the results, you will either need to stick with that diet or phase yourself into a new diet. Cutting out sugar is great, but could you cut it out forever? I know I couldn’t! We want to create a lifestyle around our diet so that we don’t feel like we are stuck with the same foods all the time. A diet shouldn’t feel like we are creating barriers by telling ourselves there are foods you can’t eat, but rather a diet should be a practice of healthy eating habits that promote a healthy body and mind.
Strategies to help
I find one of the most helpful tools is a food diary. Whether it’s just a notepad where you write your daily meals, or an app like myfitnesspal, it will make you accountable to the things you eat and give you a good idea of how much you’re eating. A recent study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that simply keeping a daily diary of food intake doubled total weight loss in a 5 month study (participants who kept a diary lost an average of 17.5 pounds).
Tracking our food allows us to pinpoint exactly where we are going wrong in our diet. It also allows for more flexibility in what we are eating. I have always tracked my food intake, no matter what! If I indulge on a weekend meal with friends, I will still track it and make sure I stay within my daily calorie limit. So a big juicy burger and poutine for lunch means 1 of 2 things… either a really light dinner, or an extra HIIT session to offset as much as possible.
Additional strategies to help include:
Read food labels, knowledge is power!
Implement portion control which will make you take in less calories and is easy enough to practice, just put less on the plate.
Avoid drinking your calories - that Starbucks Mocha Breve has 580 calories, and an average glass of red wine has about 125 calories.
Reduce calorie dense foods, processed and packaged goods are the usual culprits.
And lastly, exercise more! Aim to move your body 3 times a week, but more is better. We often joke in our classes that we are earning calories!
Find what works for YOU
Everyone is different. Someone exercising every day requires more calories than the person working out 3 days a week and has a desk job. This needs to be reflected in your diet.I love carbs, like a lot! So when I did keto (very low carb diet) I was in hell. It did get easier, but I always had the heavy carb cravings. I move A LOT in my day and I need my carbs or else I feel like a zombie. So, it wasn’t sustainable, for me. I know people who have been on keto for years with great success, which goes to show that everyone is different.
Everyone is going to respond differently to a diet or way of eating. Some people do really well reducing their carbs and some not so much (this guy!) So experiment, see what works for you and what doesn’t, you might be surprised. But remember to always ask yourself, is this something that I can keep doing for the rest of my life, if the answer is yes then you may have found your “perfect” diet.