Anybody with half a brain can jump on a FAD diet and lose some weight. Surely, it comes back but who am I to judge… In this article, I’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of creating a SUSTAINABLE diet
The allied fields in the area of health and fitness attract a lot of quacks and bullshitters. Pardon my French on that one.
The worst part is that there will always be someone who will believe them.
That’s when we miss the forest for the trees. That’s when we jump on a FAD diet that’s destined to fail in the long-run.
If you have read some of my stuff, you should know that I HATE fad diets. They simply don’t work. They put people through a miserable journey where they have to avoid or eliminate foods they love.
FAD diets make your hunger levels to shoot up. Your motivation to whither away. Your mood to turn sour.
In this article, I’ll discuss 5 strategies for creating a sustainable diet that you SHOULD use. And don’t fret. It’ll take just 5-7 minutes of your time. You’ll blow past these 5 tips like Stevie Wonder through a stop sign.
At the end of the article or on your right you’ll have a chance to sign up for my FREE 14-DAY FAT LOS FOR LIFE COURSE.
Here’s How Most People Are Dieting
Before we dive in, you should have an inkling about how most people screw up their diets. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number of dieters who wallow around without a general understanding of weight loss.
That being said, people simply google “how to lose weight quickly” and surprise, surprise the very next day they’re on a low-carb diet…
If there is one thing that I want you to take away from this article, it’s this:
Every diet that’s based on food restriction and/or elimination fails in 4-6 weeks.
Low-carb, whole30, Atkins, Zone…You name it.
A vast sea of average Joes has even lost some weight during the first 3-4 weeks on FAD diets. But you only have that much willpower.
Nobody in the universe can adhere to the diet that makes you eliminate foods you enjoy.
Dieting SHOULD NOT be a miserable experience. You SHOULD NOT force down joyless, tasteless meals every single day.
The common leap of logic is that a diet must be designed in a SUSTAINABLE way. It’s the only way to both lose weight and keep it off for life.
Now that you know what not to do, let’s zip through some of these sustainable diet plan strategies that will make your diet more enjoyable.
Strategy #1 – Don’t Be Too Aggressive With A Calorie Deficit
Most dieters make this error. And it only wakes up a “Bingeing Beast” inside them. Not only that but you also run into things like muscle loss, micronutrient deficiencies, cravings, shi**y mood…
Another problem with a massive calorie deficit is that an aggressive calorie deficit makes your body hold on to more water. This happens because of the stress hormone called cortisol. Calorie restriction increases cortisol levels which, in turn, increases fluid retention (source).
When this occurs, people think:
“What the heck??? I’ve been eating so little and yet didn’t lose any weight…”
While their frustration is understandable, this doesn’t mean their metabolism is “broken”. But they think it is…
Next thing you know, they cut calories even more and it all goes downhill from there.
I rambled quite a bit about the best calorie deficit which is ~25%. I recommend you reading 5 steps to lose stubborn belly fat article which will teach you how to calculate your calorie intake CORRECTLY.
Strategy #2 – Eat High-Satiety Foods
If you’re in a state of “I could eat an entire cow!” constantly, you’re messing things up. While dieting should make you hungry, it shouldn’t be unbearable.
Being hungry constantly makes your willpower to vanish. This, in turn, makes your cravings shoot up. Then, inevitable happens – late-night bingeing.
If hunger seems to bother you too much, your diet plan is unsustainable. It may not have enough high-satiety foods.
Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia did a cool study. They calculated the satiety index of various foods (source).
Satiety ratings were obtained every 15 min over 120 min after which subjects were free to eat ad libitum (as much as desired) from a standard range of foods and drinks.
Take a look at the highest satiety foods they have found (the higher the bar the more filling the food is):
When creating a sustainable diet, make sure to have around 80% of your food choices from this chart. You’ll eat more fruits, veggies and lean meats by default.
You can find more about this study here.
Strategy #3 – Treat Yourself. Don’t Fight Cravings
As I said before, when people start dieting, they avoid every “bad” food they used to eat. Even if they liked that food.
Eliminating well-liked foods makes you crave them even more. It’s just a matter of time when your inner-foodie monster will show up (source).
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy puttin’ down the hatch healthy foods. But I also love condensed milk, pancakes, chocolate…
No matter how strong your willpower is, you can’t beat cravings for long. You’ll give in eventually.
That’s why every client of mine has about 20% of their daily calories for ANYTHING. That’s about 200-300 calories every day for most folks.
These daily treats satisfy your cravings but you still have 80% of your diet consisting of healthy foods.
This doesn’t mess up your weight loss goals. That’s a daily “mini refeed meal” if you will.
Strategy #4 – Stop Labeling Foods as “Good” and “Bad”
Do you seriously believe there are “good” and “bad” foods? Did some tan buff guy with shaved loins in your gym say so?
Low-carb birds will say that fruits, veggies, grains, pasta are evil. Vegan folks will claim that these foods are the healthiest foods on Earth but meat and dairy are bad.
Then paleo people will say…
You get the point.
I’m not the brightest mind in the world but it seems humorous to me that the same food can be praised or villainized depending on who are you getting the information from.
All this convoluted mess leaves you wondering who the heck is right?
And this, in turn, might easily lead to an unhealthy mental relationship with food.
Certain foods don’t make you gain fat. Sugar doesn’t make you fat. Carbohydrates don’t make you gain fat. OVEREATING DOES.
Even hormones like insulin or cortisol don’t make you fat. Overeating does.
The devil is in the DOSE!
That’s why I mentioned the 80/20 rule earlier. Eat mostly minimally processed foods and then the rest can come from anything you like. Without labeling it as “good” or “bad”!
Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” makes you restrict or eliminate them.
Strategy #5 – Forget Meal Frequency
Have you ever pondered the possibility of meal timing being the least important factor of weight loss???
Every generic fitness magazine or blog offers the idea that by eating more frequently you can stoke the metabolic fire and accelerate fat loss.
It’s true that processing the food you eat does cause a metabolic boost (known as the thermic effect of food). You burn about 10% of your daily calorie intake to process the food you eat (source).
Say you consume 2000 calories per day.
About 200 calories (10%) will be used to process that food. You can split that 2000 calories into 20 or 3 meals per day. 10% of 2000 calories will always be 200 calories.
Smaller and more frequent meals will cause smaller and shorter-lasting increases in metabolic rate and larger meals will result in larger and longer-lasting boosts.
Image Source: sciencedirect
That said, there is no metabolic advantage to eating three or seven meals per day and you should eat in a way that fits your schedule and preferences (source).
Using my (boring) self as an example, I hate small meals.
I enjoy having 700-900 calories for a meal for my 3-4 meals per day. This lets me have quite a MASSIVE portion of pancakes!
The bottom line: eat as many meals per day as you wish. The idea that frequent eating stokes your metabolic fire is total CRAP. 100% Doggy doo-doo.
So to ensure you’ll walk away with a ton of actionable advice for losing fat, here are key principals for creating a sustainable diet:
- It should be in a ~25% calorie deficit. This is the biggest deficit you should roll with. Anything more than that and you’re risking massive hunger, cravings, higher stress levels, fluid retention, and muscle loss.
- Most of your foods should be high-satiating foods like veggies, fruits, lean meats. 200-300 calories every day should go to “naughty” foods. This will satisfy your cravings without messing up your weight loss goals.
- Eat as many times as your schedule allows you to. At the end of the day, total calorie intake is what drives weight loss. Not meal timing, not “good” or “bad” foods. Total calorie intake.
Dieting isn’t fun. It, let’s be honest, SUCKS. But there’s a huge difference between a diet that sucks and diet that’s miserable.
You should be able to lose weight without following heaps of restrictive rules or give up all the foods you like to eat.
And if you want soar above all the mainstream diet hysteria and gimmicks, hire me to coach ya, maybe?