This change can be overwhelming mainly because of all the different diets, the different workouts, the different plans, and the different facts you are hearing from everywhere. One person is crossfitting and eating all the bacon they can handle (Paleo) and getting like Hulk, while another person is dropping weight by going vegan and running half marathons daily. What should you do? Where should you start? Here is a guide to help you towards your own personal goals.
There are really so many out there with so many ‘success stories’ that I can see why pretty much any and all of them can seem tempting to you. But I will list the diet fad with it’s rules and regulations as well as my thoughts about it. You can always make your own judgement I just want you well equipped out there as many people want you to join their fad (**read cult**) for their own gains in some sort.
Where do I even begin? Please do not think you can some how have a ‘no carb’ diet. This doesn’t exist if you even only eat plants. Atkins is the low carb diet, with the products in the store (sometimes the same aisle as the protein bars, which saddens me when I am doing my stocking up) that supposedly have zero to no carbs. This diet is practically a giant lie through and through. Carbs are in everything but water. Carbs are your friend, no matter what this diet tries to sell you.
I shutter at the thought of only eating the SlimFast line of products. With SlimFast, you are to choose from their range of products (shakes, meal bars, snack bars, so on) for two meals and two snacks and then having a balanced dinner. My problem with SlimFast is the chemical shit storm on that ingredient list. If you want a protein shake for a meal, make one in a blender with ingredients you know where they came from. (Protein powder of your choice+milk of choice+ add fruit or ice as desired, BLEND boom)
Paleo is the cave man diet that is big in the Crossfit world. You don’t eat dairy, grains, processed foods, legumes, starches, and of course alcohol. But you can eat all the meat you want. Some say fruits are okay, lots of the followers say no because it’s sugar. It’s the diet the beginning humans used to have, because it’s all they had. Hunting and harvesting was all they knew of when it come to survival. My opinion on this is the fact that it sounds like a good idea, but then there are the people who eat mounds of bacon and think it’s great, it’s Paleo. And legumes? They are full of protein and fiber. They come from the earth. Along with wheat and grains. I do not know why you would simply rid your diet of whole food groups unless you are diagnosed with a medical problem, especially food groups that come from the earth. I am just not comfortable with a diet that restrictive.
The latest craze of the ‘fad diet’ world. I see Gluten Free all over the shelves of the grocery stores now. But is it all that you think it is? Is it that miracle to all miracles? You know why things with gluten are actually poor for your health? The refined garbage and bleached flours are what’s hurting you. Gluten is the elasticity to hold the breads and doughs in baked goods together. It’s the little bubbles when you bake bread. It gives bread the consistency it needs to be that texture, and that fluffy feeling. Yes, gluten is the devil for people with certain diseases. But for everyone else? The gluten free crap on the shelf is full of other terrible things for you. You lose the gluten and replace it with probably 8 more ingredients that are worse. If you do feel better with the gluten free lifestyle, make your gluten free things at home, please. Otherwise, stick with whole wheat. Whole wheat, not white, is best for you. Whole grains are good for the body as well as your soul in my opinion. Having a freshly made tomato sauce with some whole wheat noodles along with a big helping of a fresh mixed greens salad topped with fresh lemon juice. My soul would be complete. As well as my body loving me.
Vegan is when you have no, NO animal products. No dairy, no meat, nothing. There are lots of vegan junk food out there though, so if you choose this route, please know you can still be unhealthy. Raw Vegan is the best choice. You eat strictly plant based foods and just as it sounds-the uncooked versions. You can eat bananas and carrots all day. You can make smoothies by blending bananas and other fruits with ice. You can do the juicing of raw fruits and veggies. If you can stick with this diet without feeling deprived (that mental stability I am always talking about) is what you need to keep in mind when you choose a diet that is right for you to follow.
Raw Til 4
This diet is for the people who love the idea of Raw Vegan but don’t know if they can stick with it strictly and able to keep it together mentally. Raw Til 4 is when you keep it raw vegan (plants/fruits/veggies) uncooked until 4 pm. After, most people say to only have cooked vegetables and whole grains (have potatoes and brown rice for example) while others are more lenient (I support this one the most, it’s more likely you could stick to it for a lifetime, day in and day out) after 4 with grilled fish and other items. I fully support the Raw Til 4 diet and the people I have heard from about this diet are extremely happy-mentally and physically. You can stick with it for the longterm versus a lot of the other diets.
This is the Raw Vegan life but you only live off of fruits. This is a good idea, except having a vegetable is actually not bad for you. This is like the banana diet craze going around. I hate bananas (yes, I hate it, they are so good for you) but you can do so much with them and they are amazing for you. Saying that though, spinach is great for you too. To each their own on this one. I could eat pounds of kiwis don’t get me wrong. I just feel you would lose nutrients from other sources with this.
The old fashioned diet. My mother believes, still, in religiously counting calories daily. Calories in needs to be lower than calories out. This is usually the way of life for people with a rocky relationship with food, especially in eating disorders (namely anorexia). Yes, the logic is there. Yes it works. 1) Do you really know how many calories you need in a day, to maintain/gain/lose? The only way to know this is to calculate your needs. You can find calculators for this formula online to make it easy (such as http://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/calories). A lot of factors make up how much you need. Using My Fitness Pal app on your phone will help find this number as well. 2) 2000 calories of donuts versus 2000 calories of vegetables is made up completely different. Other factors should be involved. If life was so easy that you could simply only worry about calories for the rest of forever and be healthy, it’d be great. But life is complicated and messy. And so is being healthy.
IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros aka Macro Counting)
Spinning off from calorie counting, you can count the major nutrients you need in your diet, how your calories are made up in a day. Your macros are protein, fats and carbs. How you do this diet is keeping track of what you eat in a day and figuring out what percentage of your calories in the entire day were from each source (carbs, protein, fats). My Fitness Pal does this breakdown easily for you. So if you should be eating 2300 calories a day, you plug in your intakes for the day (you can plan ahead and plug in or plug in as you go) and see the breakdown of your macros to know if you are on track or not.This is my style. This is the diet I mainly stick with. Yes, it’s time consuming to keep up with everything you put into your mouth, but once you get the hang of hitting your macros, you kind of know how to do it. You can stop plugging in the numbers, unle/s you are on contest prep or something.
This is the purest of the pure. You would have to eliminate it all, the process, preservatives, all the crap that comes from the modern food pretty much everyone consumes in today’s day and age. You only eat whole, natural foods. No refined sugars, flour, nothing. You would replace everything with the purely natural. Honey and pure stevia for sweetening (or pure organic fruit juice). You would make nearly everything from scratch. This is quite the commitment. The problem with this diet, is the sanity. This is the main diet I talk about then I say you have to have mental stability with the diet you choose. Clean eating can cause people to become beyond obsessive. What kind of life is it to worry about everything you eat, not being able to go out with friends to a restaurant, not ever being able to eat foods other people make most of the time. This is great for people who really can just eat organic, grass fed chicken boobs and brown rice day in and day out. It’s wonderful in perspective and on paper, but it’s hard in action. It is hard in real life. And it can cause disordered eating in a different aspect. A lot of people in the fitness world who were once very very strict with clean eating (especially on contest diets) have an eating disorder. They are obsessed with every food that touches their lips. They breathe eating clean and figuring out what is in every food out there. This is a disorder. It is the same as anorexia, just a different approach. If you are living every day worrying about what to eat, when to eat, what you are eating, it’s a problem. If you choose this way, please, please, please be careful. Please do not be so strict and hard on yourself. Life is short. If you become obsessive and disorded, please seek help. Please stop while you are ahead and evaluate everything. Your mental health should never be replaced with the ‘goal body’.
The 80/20 Rule
This is the way you can balance the clean eating with finding balance and harmony with all the the foods you love but you know aren’t good for you at all. This is the ideal diet. Moderation. You spend 80% of your time eating whole, natural foods that fuel your body the right way. The other 20% is what you love (pizza, cookies, a small french fry through the drive through). This is the break you need from the healthy world. If it’s recommended to rest from working out at least once a week, why wouldn’t the rule apply to your eating? You need a break from it all once in a while. It’s good for you. I personally follow this lifestyle along with the IIFYM. I have never been better. Never been happier. Never been in a size 4 pants before. But here I am (with my brand new size 4 jeans I bought yesterday). I just fill up on fruits and veggies first, think like the Raw Til 4 diet, except not so strict. I try to eat really well breakfast and lunch. I am a little more lenient for dinner (it’s also usually my refuel after working out right now-I work out after lunch most days since leaving the desk life). I am not saying I go get a Big Mac (gross, sorry, but I just can’t do McDs) for dinner, but I will have a burger my boyfriend grilled, I will get a steak and veggies at Outback (even get a sweet tea if I feel like). This is a good lifestyle you can stick with and still be happy and healthy all the way around.
This is big in the fitness world right now. You fast for a certain number of hours (let’s say you don’t eat from 8 pm until noon the next day). Yes there is science behind this, but I do not know many people who can starve themselves that long without going crazy. For most people, fasting and starving only equals binging later on, and usually on terrible foods (three double cheeseburgers and a milkshake, with a side of brownies). You have to have some serious discipline and dedication for this one. I really have only heard/seen major success from this from the males who try it. I have heard of men even helping their vitals at the doctor with this diet. Yet again, it is what works for you and your body, mind, and soul.
With this, it is like the fasting up above, but you have high carbs days (like on work out days, leg day, etc) and then low carb days (like rest day, or active rest, light activity). You need mad discipline. You will need to stay away from peanut butter, oatmeal, and so on. You will live off of chicken boobs, veggies and so on. No rice. Little fruit (read sugars=carbs). It would suck. But it works for some people.
I hope this has helped you feel a little bit more educated and equipped to be able to choose the right style of eating and diet you think is best for you. Your body is different from mine. It’s different from the last person you saw. It’s different from Jim Bob down the road. You have to figure out what is best for you. It needs to keep you healthy: mind. body. soul. If it doesn’t, try something else. You need to find what you can stick with for the long haul if you want results, if you want change. Not just for this week or month.
If you have questions, please let me know.