The term ‘diet’ over the last decade has had many faces, meanings and methods behind it. ‘Diet’once upon a time looked something like cutting all your carbs out, eating minimal amounts of calories and performing cardio like a maniac. There is not denying these methods actually worked, people were dropping wild amounts of weight. In short periods of time too. HOWEVER. We then soon realised, the rebound of these kind of diets were brutal. On completion of a diet, people found themselves lost, uneducated and ended up in a worse state, aesthetically and mentally than their starting point.
If you are living in this time, and have searched for anything in relation to fitness and health in the last two years.(Most of the population I would assume)You would be extremely familiar with some of these words ‘IIFYM, Keto, Carb cycling, detox, fasting, intermittent fasting, macros, micros,… the list in endless.
This might sound odd to you.Coming from the mouth of a seasoned competitor, who for 6 months of the year ‘diets’ extremely hard and calculates everything I put into my mouth.But here is the thing. I consider myself an athlete, and therefore need to take certain measures to ensure I can get my body to a particular condition. During my season, it is vital to track what I am eating, this is my career.However in my off season, the last thing I want to do is calculate my food and you shouldn’t either.
‘Diets’ are a temporary fix. A method that for sure, works, but can also be super consuming, unmaintainable and often leads to negative relationships with food and exercise.
No other professional sport would expect you to train and eat the way their top athletes do, so why is fitness any different? I believe there has been a big misconception that we all need to track our food to the gram to see results and it is so wrong!Health needs to be a priority for everyone, however, the ridiculous dieting methods you are being told to follow, in my opinion, are unnecessary and over the top for the general population looking to drop a few kilos. Its great to have the option and knowledge of these ‘diet methods’, so when your wanting to cut down for an event or wedding, you can calculate all you like. However, when thinking long term, it needs to be more of a lifestyle change rather than a ‘diet’. What‘method’ are you planning to do realistically for the rest of your life. Are you really going to be logging your food into ‘myfitnesspal’ and weighing out each meal for the next 60 years?
My point here is that I want to take the pressure of you. Tracking is a great method for short term goals, but it is totally consuming to be doing for the rest if your life. You need to educate yourself on food so you can make better choices without relying on your food app. I want to make things clear and simple as possible. If one of these methods above works for you and you are gaining results and you find it maintainable, amazing, keep doing what you’re doing. However, if you are someone who has been a little bit of a diet hopper, and cant quite stick to one, not getting results and are overwhelmed by the information and what to do next. This is for you.
Welcome to your Common Sense Nutritional Guide.
My guide involves three different elements. You don’t need to know numbers. You don’t need to count macros or cut carbs.And you don’t need to know your body fat percentage. You need three skills to be successful at this.
- You need to be honest
- You need to know common sense
- You need to how to negotiate
If you believe you have the ability to do all these three things, continue reading.
What does being honest have to do with my diet?
When I sit down with a client, and I ask them to write out for me a days worth of food. I am often receive a perfectly clean days diary of food. I want you to stop reading and do the same right now.
It often looks something like this;
Breakfast; Oats and fruit on top
Snack; Apple and a coffee
Lunch; Salad and chicken
Snack; Protein bar or slice of toast and avocado
Dinner; Meat and vegetables and some form of carb.
Sound familiar? This has happened with almost every client of mine. Let me tell you, if above looks like your daily meal intake. You are killing the game, keep doing what you are doing.
Add another chocolate bar into the equation, in fact add 3 and you’re still hitting some appropriate numbers.It’s brilliant. Too brilliant for you not to be losing weight. (If you have other goals this may be different, we are focusing on losing fat here.)
Now, when I sit down and say. Is that EVERYTHING. They nod confidently thinking they have past the test. The thing is with this journey is there is not test, no one who cares what you do with your diet. The results will show, regardless of what you tell yourself or others.
So when we sit down again and you agree to put in EVERYTHING you eat. More often than not it looks a little more like this
Breakfast; Oats with milk and protein + honey and berries on top
(Snack); A latte, an apple and a few handfuls of mixed nuts I pick on throughout the day.
Lunch; salad and chicken. (The ‘salad’ comes from the local healthy cafe and although it is filled with greens, chicken, avocado and chickpeas, it’s also drenched in high salt and fat sauce brining the calorie consumption to a much larger amount than you think. (Some salads can often equate to just as many calories as a cheese burger)
(Snack); Chocolate bar or protein bar (protein bar sometimes contain upto 400 calories. Another Latte & on the occasion I’ll get a cookie.
Dinner: While cooking, I will have a glass of wine and some bread. Followed by the Meat and vegetables with mash potato.
(Dessert); Some form of chocolate or ice-cream.
Hmmm.. now that looks a little different to the first one you provided me with right? Its not my clients fault. They are not trying to lie to me. They purely don’t count or are unaware that they are consuming all these other little things. Its all subconscious. We all do it. We just don’t realise by the end of the day how much the small treats can add up too.
So The first thing we will do in my plan is get you to write out a day, an HONEST day of what you are currently eating. The teaspoon of almond butter counts. The testing of the pasta while cooking it COUNTS. The extra coffee that day COUNTS. The entrees, the ‘bite’, the ‘handful’ ALL COUNT. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it doesn’t go unnoticed. Your mind may disregard it.. but the body wont. Remember that.
Once we have an actual of what you’re eating on a day to day basis, we often come to the conclusion you are consuming more calories than what you anticipated. There is also a chance you are under-eating. Both of these actually can give you the same result of gaining weight or reaching a plateau. Now, I am well aware personal macros and calories play an effective role in peoples journeys however remember I am trying to simplify things for you today. So let’s put individual macros and calories aside for a minute.
Lets just say the average gym goer needs to be eating between 1500-2000 per day. This is the range I personally like to stay between for myself and my girls.
If you find you are below 1500, you simply need to increase your calories. Why?
- So you have more energy in the gym to have more muscle building sessions
- More muscle means the ability to get leaner and look fuller
- We need to increase your calories up so that when it comes to a point in your life you really want to drop weight, we aren’t going to be dropping them to a dangerous number.
If you are above these numbers you have two choices.
- Remain where you are, put the extra calories to good use and an increase your activity.
- Bring them back down to the advised calorie bracket.
Once you are within an appropriate daily calorie intake number.. what you do within that is simple.
My Daily Negotiation Rules
- Out of 5 meals per day,I can consume 3 with carbs –2 without.
Have whatever carbs you desire, just in the morning, pre and post workout.
- Know where you are going for events and dinners. That way you can look up the menu and pick a grilled option before you get there. I find planning ahead and not even looking at the menu helps avoid being tempted into other options.
- Stick to vodka soda when drinking
- Move an extra 5k steps on cheat or rest days
- If I want a cheat meal like pasta, I will hold off on my carbohydrate intake the 48 hours surrounding this meal to balance it out. No tracking or counting needed. Just common sense, that if you fill your body with a bowl full of pasta and bread. It probably wont be running low on those carb stores for a while. No need to over feed it.
- If you want dessert, great. Have it. I probably don’t need the entrée too then. Pick 2.
- You want to eat more overall? Great. Train and move more.