Finding the right diet for YOU
What works for Jane doesn’t always work for Kate. And what works for Kate almost definitely won’t work for John.
Diets are a tricky thing. New diet trends are created or ‘discovered’ on almost a daily basis, and what works for one group of people won’t always work for another. So, how do you go about figuring out what diet is best for you?
There are multiple factors that need to be taken into account when prescribing a diet for an individual. Things like Age, Gender, Lifestyle, Hormones and activity level all play their part. However, despite what you might think, one factor goes above and beyond all of these when creating a successful diet.
Whether or not you ‘enjoy’ the diet, whether that be the structure of it or the foods in it, is the largest deciding factor as to whether you will adhere to it. Which is the number one factor that controls whether a diet is successful – consistency and adherence.
You could pay for the fanciest, most complex (and expensive) diet plan created by the highest ranked dietician in the World – that you can’t stand, or you could have a super simple, off the internet plan that you absolutely love. The chances are, you would get better results off the latter.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some people have the mindset and the willpower to stick to anything they’re given regardless of how much they hate it. But, the reality is that fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint. If you can’t see yourself sticking to a diet plan or dieting ‘style’ for longer than a couple weeks or months at the most, it’s most probably not going to work out.
So, how do you find the diet that works best for YOU?
There are three primary methods of dieting that can be integrated into your daily life and all have the potential to work. However, each have their pro’s and con’s.
Customised Meal Plans
When meal plans are tailored specifically to
the individual, meaning they consist only of a range of food choices you know you enjoy, they can be extremely effective.
- Simplicity, you know exactly how much of each ingredient to buy.
- Preparing meals in advance is easy, you can bulk-cook everything and have it stored in the
- fridge/freezer ready to go.
- Set plans are (for some) easier to stick to when you’re faced with temptation.
- Repetitive, it is easy to get bored of eating the same foods every day.
- Restricting yourself from eating anything other than what is outlined in your meal plan can lead to binge eating and severely exceeding your calorie targets.
- Social situations are very difficult if you find yourself either not being able to eat (and left starving), or having to take a Tupperware with your prepped meal. This can lead to anxiety around social situations and avoiding them altogether.
Seemingly foreign to the dieting world, yet embedded in our instincts as humans. Intuitive eating involves making healthy food choices most of the time, and eating when you are hungry then stopping when you are full. This can also tie in with the 80/20 principle, being that 80% of your diet consists of wholesome, nutritious food and 20% treats or ‘sometimes’ foods. You can practice one or both and achieve great results when executed correctly.
- Freedom to eat what you want, when you want and ensure you feel full after each meal.
- Social situations are a stress-free environment where you can enjoy a bit of everything within moderation and without feeling guilty.
- You can choose foods based on variables such as seasonal changes, availability, price and
- Not measurable. There’s no way of knowing how many calories you’re consuming so it can be hard to adjust calories to achieve further results.
- Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, and fullness often varies depending on the type of meal being consumed. For example, you need to consume a lot more calories from cake to be full than you would say, a garden salad.
- Intuitive eating requires previous knowledge of foods nutritional breakdowns. Without knowing what foods are made of protein/fats/carbs and which foods are calorie dense (contain a lot of calories for a small amount of food), it is hard to gauge how much of what foods you need.
Tracking your Food Intake
Food diaries or calorie tracking apps are commonly used within the dieting world, and for good reason. They are simple, measurable and keep you accountable.
- Freedom to eat what you want, when you want.
- Enables you to plan for social situations in advance by either pre-empting a range of foods and estimating their quantities in your food diary, or lowering your intake around the event to allow ample calories and ensure you don’t exceed your limit.
- Extremely easy to make calorie adjustments (less likely to plateau).
- Allows you to fit treats into your daily budget and not view any foods as ‘off limits’.
- Requires you to weigh almost everything (for some this makes things easier, for others it is a hassle).
- Can be difficult for beginners to ‘track’ a meal out until they get the hang of estimating weights/calories in foods.
- Relies on the individual to make smart food choices and ensure they allow sufficient calories for each meal of the day plus any snacks or drinks
All three of the above methods can be effective if executed correctly. So, with this knowledge in hand, take to your next diet with confidence. Whatever you choose to follow, do it with consistency and with as much variety as possible!
A few basic Guidelines to stick to for the Every-Day-Dieter OR Newbie!
- Eat Sufficient Protein, aim for 20-30g per meal as a general guideline
- Get in plenty of Vegetables (aka fibre)! Aim for 5+ serves of veggies and 1-2 servings of fruit (total of 20-30g of fibre each day).
- Aim for 3-5 Litres of water per day
- If you struggle with staying full or getting snack crazy, try filling up with a low-carb breakfast high in healthy fats and protein. An omelette with 1-2 eggs, egg whites, spinach and mushrooms + avocado is a great way to start the day that will keep you fuller for longer
- Minimise processed, refined foods and artificial sweeteners! Moderation is key when it comes to these things.
- Try not to drink your calories. Whether it’s Frappuccino’s, Sports drinks with added sugar, alcohol, soft drinks or even a plain ol’ smoothie. Try to steer clear of drinking your calories when trying to lose weight as these little drinks often add up in big ways on your calorie count. If you’re going to drink them, drink responsibly!