Lisa and I have been in the fitness and nutrition business for over 20 years each... Trust me, I think we've seen every diet program come and go, and we've seen people fail, and people succeed. NOBODY can guarantee success when it comes to diet. Unless you pay me 24 hours per day to follow you around and slap food out of your hands... EVERYBODY is going to cheat. The secret is to figure out WHY you cheat, HOW to avoid it, or simply how to minimize the impact of the concessional cheat. Only then... can you make it through your new nutritional "lifestyle" without blowing up, or going crazy.
What diets actually work?
Really, any diet that provides a complete spectrum of nutrients, both macro and micro-nutrients can work in the long term... IF you can stick with it. Many advertised diets are simply NOT sustainable, due to not being complete, or simply not providing ENOUGH calories to keep you alive!
1) "I feel like I'm starving when I'm on a diet, and I just can't stand it!"
In fact... most people are eating WAY too few calories when they go on a diet. Your body IS starving! Nobody can sustain a starvation diet, and a starvation diet is horrible for you. The secret to success is to cut out just a FEW calories. Enough to get the fat coming off, but also enough to keep you from damn near DYING!
The first step is figuring out what you are ACTUALLY eating on an average day, and then adjust from there. If you have no idea what you really eat day in, and day out, picking a random low calorie intake is setting yourself up for failure from day one! Fat-loss success simply REQUIRES accurate TRACKING. If you are not tracking your intake, you will NOT sustain your fat-loss. Anything you lose will be out of pure luck, and short term re-gains will happen. Talk to a nutrition pro about TRACKING, and how to do it.
2) "I can't stay on plan for 3-4 days, but then I blow a day, and give up!"
This is likely the MOST common diet "fail" we hear... and the solution is simple. Stop dieting more than 3 days in a row!
The reality is, you body doesn't gain and lose fat based on what you eat in a 24-hour period. Fat is gained and lost over the course of a week's intake. If your calories and macronutrients are on point for the WEEK, you'll be fine. If you KNOW you're going to "cheat" every few days, simply PLAN your cheats! Some trainers call these cheat-meals, or even cheat-days. I prefer the term "re-feed" days.
Sit down with Lisa and I, or with another qualified nutrition professional and figure out what your real average intake is (see #1). Once you determine what your "maintenance" calories are (what you eat to stay the same weight), plan to cut 10-20% calories (typically carbs) out for 3 days in a row, and then eat your FULL maintenance on the 4th day! Many of my clients use Wednesdays and Saturdays as "re-feeds", or whatever days work best for them. This way, you only have to "diet" for 2-3 days in a row. On the high calorie days you get glorious amounts of carbs and feel like you're NOT dieting. ANYBODY can stick to a diet 2-3 days in a row!
3) "I am addicted to chocolate, and sweets!!"
So am I... I'm eating a Cookies & Cream Quest Bar between paragraphs...
As a result we keep our house stocked up with tiny dark chocolate squares, chocolate-peanut butter protein bars, chocolate protein powder, chocolate mint protein bars... Granted... they are NOT as good as a candy bar, but they are CLOSE ENOUGH!!! They are enough of a replacement to take the edge off. I eat chocolate 3-4 times per day... even IN CONTEST PREP.
4) "My spouse/significant other likes to go out to dinner 2-3 nights per week!"
This one is a tough one... But it's DEFINITELY beatable.
First... Make sure you've got plenty of food in you before you head out. Don't go out STARVING. Second... convince your partner that you WILL go out, but that you limit your choices, and HAVE a plan when you go there. Lisa an I only go to a few different restaurants. And almost everywhere we go, we have a go-to food item on the menu. Grilled fish tacos, seared tuna steaks and veggies, a salad with double grilled chicken... we have a plan. Make sure that your meal of choice is "estimate-able" for tracking purposes. Third... time your re-feed days for your nights out! Don't feel guilty for going out with your partner! Those "date-nights" are important to the health of your relationship, especially if you have young kids! Finally... Don't drink alcohol away from home! Alcohol calories add up SO FAST! Alcohol leads to BAD choices, and loss of self control. JUST DON'T DO IT!
5) "I'm too busy to cook healthy meals at home, so I end up STUCK eating fast-food or going out to eat!"
WOW... This one is the biggest diet killer known to man in our BUSY fast-moving lives. There is fast-food EVERYWHERE, and we always seem to NEVER have time, especially if we're ALSO working out 4-5 nights per week!!!
Okay... First, if at all possible, work out in the morning! Teaching your body to wake up an hour earlier only takes a week. Tough it out, and get it DONE! Next... MEAL PREP, MEAL PREP, MEAL PREP!!! Take a few hours on Sunday night to cook a BUNCH of food! Lots of healthy protein, grilled chicken pre-sliced and stored, get a rice-cooker that keeps warm rice on the counter-top. We have a 6-cup version and cook most of our "boring" carbs only twice per week. Cook up a crock-pot full of "pulled pork loin". Cut up veggies and fruit in advance. Come see us for a HUGE list of easy-prep meal ideas that match up to your diet. That way when you're stuck late at work, you KNOW you have QUICK pre-cooked chicken, rice, and veggies waiting at home that take 2 minutes to heat up and serve. NEVER get stuck with nothing but raw chicken and left-over cake in your refrigerator... Because you KNOW what you'll be eating for "dinner" that night when you come home exhausted, stressed, and HUNGRY. If you have pre-prepped food waiting... you have a CHANCE of avoiding the cake!
We hope these tips will help! Some of these need a little education, guidance, and motivation to maintain. If your trainer refuses to help with your nutrition... fire your trainer.
20+% of Americans would rather stand in line at the DMV for an hour than go work out.
65+% of Americans can't stay on a diet longer than a week...
You're NOT alone!