You’ve probably read more articles on diet than anything else fitness related, but here is another one, and this will hopefully be the easiest and simplest one for you to understand, because actually, diet is simple!
First off, I hate the phrase ‘I’m going on a diet’. You’re always on a diet. Diet shouldn’t be something you do for two, three, four weeks every now and again; it’s what is your general way of eating, and something that just is what it is. Diet is whatever you stick inside your mouth, period.
Here’s the thing with what most people refer to as a ‘diet’. I hate them all, but they all work, for a period of time. Atkins, vegan, juice diets, Dukan and so on, they all work, but the problem is what comes next, and the sustainability. How many of you have either been on a ‘diet’ for a period of time, or know someone who has. What do they generally look like two years down the line? I’d bet in most cases, right back at square one, or worse.
I’m going to give you a list of several simple bits of advice or rules if you’d like, influenced by Dan John, it’s all sound advice, that will work, and is sustainable.
Whatever type of diet you look at, they all agree on the following:
Cut out sugar
Cut out “Cardboard Carbs”
Get rid of “Frankenstein Fat”
Eat colourful vegetables
Let’s all find what to agree on before we seek perfection.
Cardboard carbs, anything that comes in a box, bag or packet is probably bad for you. If it can last on a shelf for 10 years, it will remain on your butt for that long too! By cutting these out, you naturally cut down on the unwanted sugar also.
For Frankenstein fats, you have to think how it is made. Give somebody a cow and a YouTube video on how to make butter, and you’ll make butter. Give somebody corn, you can’t squeeze margarine out of it. It takes a lab and it takes science. The human body doesn’t know how to deal with these fats, get rid of them.
P.S. Don’t come back and tell me fat is bad for you, it isn’t. You need it, eat it.
Every diet agrees on the value of colourful vegetables. Vegetables keep you healthy and are packed full of wonderful vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Eat them, lots of them, at every meal. You don’t need telling this, you just need to do it.
The point of the above is also this; don’t strive for perfection. The perfect diet doesn’t exist. Aim to be pretty good, most of the time, and start by doing the things that every diet agrees upon.
To directly quote Dan:
“Eat like an adult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kids cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods whenever your favourite show is not on when you want it on. Ease up on the snacking and – don’t act like you don’t know this – eat more vegetables and fruits.”
Sounds simple right? That’s because it is, and I’ll keep repeating that.
Eat like an adult
Eat lean protein
Drink water (1 litre per 25kg of bodyweight as a general rule)
Train in a fasted state – sometimes
Stay hungry after training – sometimes
Don’t send me a food diary telling me you eat cake, biscuits and drink wine every day of the week and then ask me why you aren’t losing weight. The response – stop eating cake, biscuits and drinking wine every day of the week! Genius right!
Some sound advice I heard from Josh Hillis also via Dan John was also this – your two hardest workouts (for fat loss) of the week should be food shopping, and food prep. Think about it. Take the time to go out and buy real food, plan what you’re going to eat for the week, take the time to prepare it yourself, and then eat it! Limit the chances of you being able to make poor choices later in the week. One of the worst things you can do is go to buy food when you are already hungry. You may surprise yourself at just how much real food you can actually eat. It is far less calorific than the rubbish you buy ready made in packets from the local supermarket.
Let’s recap this one last time.
Eat real food, if it grows on trees, in the ground, and you can catch and kill it, eat it. If it comes in a packet and can outlive your pet dog Rex, avoid it.
Eat healthy fats, think butter, olive oil, avocados, nuts and cut out Frankenstein Fats.
Drink plenty of water, 1 litre per 25kg of body mass.
Eat protein at every meal.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, as many varieties as possible.
Think protein for fitness, veggies for health.
You may also notice that at no point did I mention counting calories. Good, don’t. For some it may have use, but for most of you, it is unnecessary. Don’t become obsessed by the little numbers, and striving for exact amounts of macro and micro nutrients. If you follow the above advice, you’ll be sure to be getting what you need without being neurotic about it.
It seems simple right? It is. But that doesn’t necessarily mean easy. That’s where some self-discipline and accountability has to come in. Don’t strive for the perfect diet, just aim to be pretty good most of the time. If you have a glass of wine or two at the weekend, the odd chocolate bar, fine, great, enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Just aim to keep things in balance.
Oh, and my parting bit of advice. Go and grab your stash of diet books. Unless you plan to use them as a stack of weight to lift, throw them in the bin, and never buy another one. Stop looking for magic pills to do the simple stuff for you. Eat like an adult.
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