As Personal Trainers we’re always asked what the best way to lose weight is. If there’s such thing as the ‘best’ diet.
Well I hate to burst the bubble of anyone out there that claims to know the ‘best’ diet, or anyone that advocates eating in a certain way, but my answer is always simple…
“The best diet is the one that works best for YOU, and fits YOUR eating pattern and lifestyle. If you want to lose fat it simply boils down to CALORIES IN versus CALORIES OUT”
……Basically you need to do a little more and eat a little less.
Pretty boring answer, right?! But unfortunately it’s true. Yes, when it comes to maintaining lean mass, timing of nutrients and hitting your protein numbers it can factor in, but creating a calorie deficit should be your #1 priority.
It’s not really that big of a secret is it?!
The fitness industry and misinformed trainers and ‘experts’ tend to overcomplicate things, and speak more science-fiction than science-fact. The simplest and most obvious answer is often the right one. Even if its not the sexiest secret in the world it’ll be the one that gets you there every time!
It’s also true however that some people’s bodies respond to certain ways of eating better than others. Some people are better on a lower carb diet than others, for example, and vice versa. But this should be the secondary focus of your diet. Your primary focus should be to create a slight calorie deficit, so your body is forced to eat in to that stored energy you call your love handles.
At the end of the day it boils down to CALORIES IN versus CALORIES OUT. You need to create a deficit. How you do this depends on how YOU like to eat, and what fits YOUR lifestyle the best.
Here’s a few ideas of how some diets manage to create a deficit without you having to count calories:
MEAL TEMPLATES, MEAL PREP COMPANIES AND PORTION CONTROL – These help to create a calorie deficit by helping you manage and control your portion sizes. Also by eliminating the “can’t be bothered to cook”, “don’t have time to cook” or “I don’t know what to eat” excuses that over a decade as a personal trainer I’ve heard way too many times! If you’re time poor, lack creativity or skills in the kitchen this could be an option for you.
MEAL REPLACEMENTS AND JUICE DIETS – These work the same as above in that they can help you control your calories, make things easy, and eliminate the above excuses. There’s nothing special about so-called diet meal replacement drinks, they’re pretty much all the same. Some have added fat loss ingredients that may help you drop an extra pound or two over a month, or extra fibre to keep you fuller for longer, but they’re all similar. Just don’t go replacing your meals with shoddy excuses for packet soups, or like one well-known company does with Aloe Vera Juice, this is just unhealthy and stupid! Juicing can be ok also, however just be aware of the amount of sugar you could be drinking, as well as the lack of protein. Buy a good quality meal replacement shake, or just make them yourself.
Here’s how to make a meal replacement shake yourself:
STEP 1: Start with your fluid. Options include water, almond Milk or other nut milk, soy milk, coconut water, you pick.
STEP 2: Add your fruits and optional greens. Anything you like, berries work particularly well and are low in calories and jam packed with nutrients. For greens try adding a little spinach, or even a superfood greens powder.
STEP 3: Add your carbs if you want carbs. Oats work the best here. But adding extra things such as honey, dates/date nectar, and carby fruits such as bananas can all increase the carb content of your shake.
STEP 4: Add your fats. Nut butters such as peanut, almond and cashew work well, ground seeds (flax, chia, hemp etc.), Udos choice oil, coconut oil or MCT Oil, or even half an avocado works well.
STEP 5: Add protein. Whey protein, milk protein or a plant based protein, whatever you prefer. Flavoured or unflavoured. Your choice. Natural strained yogurt can also provide a good source of protein.
STEP 6: Just adjust the amounts of the above depending on taste, calories and fats/carbs, and blend. That’s it. These can also store well in the fridge at home or work for a few days so great as a grab-and-go option.
ELIMINATING COMPLETE FOOD GROUPS, GOING LOW CARB, LOW FAT OR CARB CYCLING – These cut calories through eliminating typically either Fat or Carbs, or say processed sugars and alcohol, or going gluten- or dairy-free. Of course reducing processed sugars, alcohol and salt from your diet will have huge benefits, particularly on your health. But from a fat loss point of view they just help you create a calorie deficit. However, if you know you don’t respond well to certain macronutrients, or food groups then of course just reduce or eliminate them. For example, I’ve found that people with a family history of type 2 diabetes or poor blood sugar control, are far better reducing their carbs and adopting a moderate/low carb or low carb ketogeic diet, and increasing their fat intake slightly. Conversely, I’ve found those with an East Asian heritage are much better at dealing with carbohydrates, but not so well with fats. So generally a low fat diet will work better. Everyone is different.
INTERMITTENT FASTING OR CIRCADIAN FASTING – These diets reduce calories through either fasting for a set period of time, or only eating during a certain ‘window’ every day. They can be very effective for some people, and a great way to manage food intake. They can also work very well for people that need to improve their relationship with food, i.e. it stops you thinking about food constantly during the day. If you’re used to thinking you need 5-6 meals a day and are constantly anticipating or looking forward to your next meal, then trying out some form of fasting could be worth a try. I’d only recommend a maximum of 16 hours a day fasting however, as I have found more to affect energy levels during training and make it harder to maintain lean mass when dieting.
MORAL OF THE STORY…
If you’re trying to drop a few pounds before the holidays or in the New Year then don’t be pulled in by certain diet fads. Pretty much all of them will work to some degree, you just need to find one that’s healthy and works for you and your body type. There is no real secret or ‘special’ diet.