Starting a diet: How to find the approach the works for you | Josh Kennedy
Last week we discussed how to set goals, and how to schedule your time in a way that sets you up for success.
If you’ve not already read that one, I’d suggest taking a look, as it’ll help to put this article in perspective.
That said, even without any other information, the topics I’ll cover here are essential to EVERY diet.
Today we’re talking about the diet itself. The nutrition side of things. What to eat, what approach to take, do Calories matter, Tracking (or not?) and so on.
By the end of this short article, you’ll know what to AVOID when it comes to nutrition plans for fat loss, and importantly, what options you have to get lasting results.
So, let’s get started.
Why do diets work?
There’s one unavoidable fact about diets that we need to all accept. For some reason, people still resist this, but the truth is, the sooner you accept this plays a big role, the better.
We mentioned this a couple of week ago. The fact is, that if you consume more Calories than you burn consistently, you’ll gain weight over time.
The opposite is also true: that is, if you consume less Calories than you burn consistently, you’ll lose weight over time.
Now, this is not to say other factors are unimportant: they all have a place in this picture, but the above stands in all circumstance. Manipulating energy balance is king when it comes to fat loss.
What this doesn’t mean
As mentioned above, this doesn’t mean other factors are unimportant. Gut health, metabolic health, hormones, stress, sleep: all of these can play a huge part in fat loss.
The food you eat will have an impact on your hormones, your gut health, even your metabolism itself.
This then has an impact on appetite, energy levels, sleep, stress, recovery, and more.
Then we have he other factors- genetics, lifestyle, etc. And we’ve not even mentioned psychology, which is a HUGE factor in successful dieting.
Most popular “diets” are a huge over simplification of how the body works, that zone in on one area, and neglect other key factors.
Like most things, perfect nutrition is complex- maybe impossible- but luckily, with a few simple rules, you can have a plan that will get you life changing, lasting results, fast.
Our key habits - where to start
It’s no secret that almost all of our nutrition plans at FX start with the same basic habits.
Sure, things can progress into far more complex plans, but for the most part, these habits, coupled with a few simple rules, gives huge flexibility on your plan, whilst keeping you accountable.
The results speak for themselves, as you’ll find out once you start to implement this approach.
First off, habits 1, 2 and 3 break traditional “diet mantra”.
With these, we actually add more FOOD into your day, rather than removing it! These habits are to ensure you increase your veg intake with meals, to drink enough water throughout the day, and to include a good amount of protein (20-40g, high quality) with every meal.
Not only does this help you to achieve your nutritional targets, helping your body to achieve the vitamins, minerals, protein and fluid requirements for you to feel great, it also helps to control appetite and hunger, due to both the satiating effect of protein, and the high nutrient density (with very few Calories) of vegetables.
The next 2 habits, we take something out, but it’s easy to do once you’ve made the above a standard part of your day!
Reduce junk food, and cut down on alcohol! The logic here is simple.
Not only are these a lot of Calories for relatively little nutrient value, but they also tend to be the types of food that you could eat all day!
When you’re trying to keep in control of calorie intake, you’ll find it much easier to keep these types of foods to a minimum!
Before I tell you about our last habit, let me tell you how to make cutting down on these types of foods easy!
There’s a lot of theories about how to build and break a habit, but the one we find has helped our clients massively is the approach given in the book “atomic habits”.
Here’s how we use this in a simplified manner for diets; to create a new habit, you make it the easy and obvious choice.
Within the scope of our habits, most people struggle with a few simple challenges: Take away foods, chocolate, biscuits, beer, and wine.
And to be successful, you need to be mindful of how much of these foods you’re taking on.
The thing is, the reason we eat/ drink these goes way beyond thirst and hunger.
So, let’s make it easy not to have these challenges, with some simple swaps.
Food example: Instead of getting hungry and picking at biscuits from the cupboard after tea, plan some alternative snacks that help you to break the habit.
Protein bars or fruit could be a great option here, but get the biscuits out of the way.
Stop making this the easy/ obvious choice if they are holding you back on your diet.
Alcohol example: Instead of having 6 ice cold beers in the fridge for when you get home, swap it. Sparking water? Diet soda? Whatever works for you, that means that the obvious and easy choice isn’t a beer, but is an ice cold alternative, that you can enjoy in a similar manner without a negative impact on your diet, sleep and training.
Sure it’s a compromise, but if you’re dieting, these will help you immeasurably. And you can apply this to anything!
Our final habit - Track it
There’s one more habit we suggest everyone uses at some point during the diet, and that’s tracking your food. Yes, this can be difficult, but it’s really effective for several reasons.
First, you’ll start to understand your food, and where those hidden calories are coming from over the week, that would otherwise have you feeling demotivated! This in itself is empowering!
But beyond that, it allows you to not only reflect and make adjustments, but also to make daily wins by sticking to the diet, knowing you’re 100% on track, without needing to just trust the scales (which can be really misleading)! So, if you really want success, track your food, even if it’s just for a week or two!
What to avoid!
Some diets you need to be careful with. If your diet doesn’t have you taking on less energy than you burn, you won’t lose weight.
But as we’ve said, this can be pretty complex, and you can ABSOLUTELY achieve this by cutting foods out, and not tracking.
But be careful with this.
Sure, you’ll want to cut down junk food and alcohol, but anytime we completely remove food groups, or go for super low Calories, you’re setting up for issues further down the line.
Sure, you’ll lose weight, but some essential processes may start to shut down (you’ll feel more lethargic, have impaired immunity, struggle to adapt to training, and more) and when you remove food groups completely (think vegan/ ketogenic diets for fat loss) you risk developing nutrient deficiencies, which can again have an impact on your health.
Diet types aren’t really good or bad: more appropriate or not appropriate.
But most diets that tell you to avoid exercise are setting you up for a world of problems long term - which I’ll cover next week when we discuss why EXERCISE may actually be the most important factor in your diet, despite what you may have been told!
I hope this article has helped you to make those initial steps on your diet, and please feel free to reach out for any advice and additional tips on how we can help.