So you’re ready to look into eating for weight loss. You’ve been working out, doing Pilates, Spinning class, Zumba, HIIT, weight-training, or maybe CrossFit. You’ve begun to realize that working out isn’t the only component of weight-loss; nutrition is also incredibly important. Perhaps you hit a weight-loss plateau or you’re trying to research as much as possible before starting your fitness journey. And now amongst all of the dieting advice out there, you’re left wandering and lost- not sure what to choose.
Well, I can’t tell you what to choose. Simply because: I don’t know you. I don’t know what your current nutrition is like, what your health is like, your preferences, intolerances, or budget.
I can’t advocate the Atkins diet because I don’t know what your carbohydrate needs are like. You could be working out so hard that low-carb could hurt you in the long run. I can’t tell you to do a high protein or Ketogenic diet, because I don’t know what your kidneys and stomach might do in reaction to such a plan.
I’m going to discuss some of the issues with some of the dieting advice you might find online before I get to describing some ways to appropriately diet, so if you simply want a list without an explanation, scroll down to the bold headline. If you want to know why certain diets haven’t worked for you, read on.
There are so many issues with basic, ten dollar online-nutrition programs, biology being only one of them. See, your body is custom. Its the most custom machine in the whole world. When you take a generic program and try to feed it into your unique body without changing up any of the restrictions to accommodate your needs, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
What might work for some could be totally catastrophic for your personal progress. Then you get discouraged, unhealthy, and end up quitting everything fitness-related in your life. You figure its not worth the struggle. You tell yourself that if it works for everyone else but you, you must be destined to be the same forever. That is the farthest from the truth.
In fact, if this has happened to you, you’ve been a victim of fitness trends. Just like that time you bought that new appliance or tool you saw on television that all of the smiling happy people said would work; that appliance that’s currently in the junk drawer or the dump for all the good it ended up doing you. They’re trends, and popularity drives them. It certainly doesn’t meant they work.
One more thing I want to address before I give you a list of diets I can suggest in good conscience (I know I’m boring you); your thoughts about dieting.
So many people adhere to the common guidelines given for males/females of their particular size. Just because someone of your similar build needs 1200 calories per day to lose a pound a week absolutely does not mean you do. Also, sugar-free is not the best route, though you may think the “zero-calories” are worth it. For some, it causes bloating and stomach issues. If you’re bloating, you won’t see progress and this also lends to the defeat that comes from a faulty diet. Lastly, you are allowed treats, but you do not DESERVE a candy bar or a box of Mike and Ike’s. You don’t need it because you had a bad day, or you’re fed up and you “can do what you want”. If you have that treat, it should be as a reward for your progress, a prize for your hard work, and you should be at a place where you can take it or leave it.
So without further introduction, here are my recommendations for dieting.
Diets for a Healthy Weight-Loss:
- Macronutrient-based Diet; “Macro Diet”
You’ll see a couple of different versions of this diet, but you are better off following the basic rules. Macronutrients are Protein, Carbohydrate, and Fat. The belief behind this diet is that calculating and then eating an exact amount of macros for your body is the perfect way to maintain or lose body weight. It’s numbers are based off of physiological numbers like body weight, height, age, gender, body fat percentage, and end-goals. There are simple calculators to use for your base macronutrient numbers. You can also read up on how to do it yourself, which I recommend unless you’re constrained by time. A third option is using a “coach”; they usually have adopted the plan themselves and have some experience to help you out with your numbers. They usually charge rates starting at $10 to anywhere around $100 based on what you want.
Once you have your numbers, which are based on gram measurements and consist of Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats. Calories are not quite as important in this diet, as the focus is more on hitting your macros. The goal in this case is to perfectly hit your macros, meaning eating enough to land on your numbers. This means that most macro-dieters use a food scale to measure their foods, making sure they eat to the exact gram. I can recommend this diet for both weight-loss and muscle-building, for both men and women, and people of all ages. This particular diet allows for incredibly customized plans, and it doesn’t demand that you eat a certain type of food. Food selection is really up to you, as long as it fits your macronutrient base. You can use this macronutrient calculator from MacroFit to get your numbers. Its incredibly custom and the information is pretty straightforward. Use this method of dieting if you like to be flexible with the foods you eat. Remember that it takes a good amount of responsibility to keep track of your macros. Use sites/apps like myfitnesspal for managing your numbers.
- The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet is pretty controversial. Those who don’t get it, trash it. Those who do, defend it to the death. There’s science for it and science debunking it. There are “Paleo Police” who strictly follow the original guidelines of this diet and tend to harass those who aren’t perfect in their practice. But, controversy aside its a good diet, especially for those of you who have food intolerances. Many people think that this style of eating involves a ton of steak and bacon. Don’t get the Paleo crew wrong; they love their meats. But they also eat a diet rich in vegetables, fats, and carbohydrates. When the Paleo diet began, it was a pretty strict way of life consisting of meats and vegetables that Cavemen would have eaten. There were no potatoes, milk, cheese, or grains like rice. Now with progression and new outlooks, its more about eating to heal. If you can’t eat grains, don’t. However, if you can eat rice or potatoes have at it. Paleo blogger and author Stephanie of Stupid Easy Paleo explains the rules about (for example) white potatoes for Paleo eaters in her blog entry, “Are White Potatoes Paleo?“. Bottom line; some people should eat them and some shouldn’t. Read her post for the guidelines.
The Paleo diet may suit you if;
-you’re in need of healing your gut
-you have an autoimmune disease
-you’re interested in cleaning up your diet
-you want to steer away from processed foods, OR
-you want to lose weight in a healthy, natural way.
This way of eating is also customizable, and it doesn’t focus so much on calories, similar to macronutrient-based diets. The focus is more on losing weight through healing your body. You should also exercise, but eat enough food for the amount of activity you’re getting. You may also want to follow Stupid Easy Paleo for tips on eating Paleo for athletes. You can also find out when her sport-specific book is due for release.
- Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is exactly what it sounds like; stop and pay attention to what you’re eating. Not why you’re eating this instead of that, you don’t need a reason. Instead, the goal is to examine what you’re eating; its about taking the time to almost lovingly put effort into eating your food. This is a pretty necessary stage for someone who is looking into dieting for weight-loss. If you’re scanning the internet for ways to lose weight, you have to admit that most likely, somewhere down the line you had/have an issue with controlling what you eat. Mindful eating can help you fix that. The origins of this way of eating are Buddhist, which is plain to see when first you practice mindfully eating. You are taught to put ONE bite of food in your mouth, it doesn’t matter what. Focus on that bite as you chew it slowly, absorbing the flavors. The goal behind this is to truly appreciate your food, and you should be conscious of what that food is doing for you. It fills a need that your body has, and you’re honoring your body by eating. You shouldn’t be horking down food at dinner time, you shouldn’t be grabbing a drive-through breakfast sandwich and devouring it in three bites while driving to work. With mindful eating, you learn lessons in how to satisfy your body. Learning to slow down and enjoy it not only helps you learn how to reach satisfaction, it also allows you to feel full when your body has had enough. So many of us eat so quickly that we don’t notice fullness until its too late. We go back for seconds one minute after we finish our first plate because it “was good” or you’re “really hungry”. There is an article I highly suggest about eating mindfully written by the New York Times. This article features professional nutritionists, and describes the beginnings and benefits of Mindful Eating. Click here to read it.
So how does Mindful Eating help you lose weight? It keeps you aware of what you’re eating. You eventually end up eating smaller amounts and taking in fewer calories because you know when to stop. We don’t gain weight by eating enough for our bodies, we gain weight by giving it more than it can use. Mindfully eating is the key to stopping the binges, the huge portions, and the uncontrolled cravings. It is a fully customizable way of eating; you are in charge of restricting what you eat.
- Blended Diets
You always have the option of mixing up aspects of different diets. There’s no reason not to take great aspects from diet-types, add them together, and benefit from a hybrid that suits your needs. Take, for example, 80/20 and 90/10 Paleo. A lot of athletic-types use this style of eating that uses 80 or 90 percent Paleo guidelines while incorporating 10 or 20 percent foods that don’t qualify for Paleos. You can even take the macro-counting from Macronutrient dieting and apply it to your 80/20! Once you do your research and study up on the real components of weight-loss, putting together a diet for your unique composition is easy-peasy 🙂
Just remember that what ever diet you choose, you need compliance. You need to be satisfied with your food, and you need to stick to whatever your plan is. Weight-loss is not easy, it takes work both inside and outside of the gym. Adhere to your plan, dedicate yourself to your health, and results will be yours.
I hope this has helped you out! If you have more questions about the above mentioned, or about something I didn’t mention, leave me a suggestion or question in the comment section! Whoever you are, whatever your needs, you can reach your full potential. Take care of yourself and your body will return the favor.
To your health and happiness!