3 Reasons Your Weight Loss Diet Hasn’t Been Effective
One of the most astounding stories of weight loss success I’ve ever heard originates at the start of my personal training career, coming from another trainer’s first time meeting a prospective client. A gentleman that this trainer met with, shared that over the preceding six months, he’d lost over sixty pounds doing nothing more than eating four Whopper Jrs with cheese every day – two for lunch, two for dinner. No exercise at all.
This flew in the face of everything my freshly-minted NASM-Certified brain had learned about nutrition. Still to this day I have lingering thoughts of “How the hell?” You may also be reading this with similar thoughts of “Why can’t I be that lucky? I eat my chicken, rice, veggies and all this Greek Yogurt crap and am lucky to lose a few pounds a month” or “But I’ve been following my cousin’s post-bariatric surgery diet so well and haven’t seen any results and all I want is a freaking slice of pizza!” (yes, I’ve heard both)
While by no means am I going to advocate the strict use of fast food as a weight loss tool, I want to share some straightforward and actionable solutions that can help just about anyone at any phase of their fitness get back to the “Big Picture” of what works with nutrition!
1. You don’t track your calories!
If you’re taking an active interest in your well-being by going to the gym, I implore you to take the extra step and find some way to measure your food intake! For FitBunch members, I always prescribe calorie and macronutrient (carbs, protein, and fats) while advocating the use of a tracking tool such as MyFitnessPal. If you’re just starting out and maybe not quite ready to take that leap, even simply moderating your portion sizes across each meal for a period of time will have a positive effect. Whatever you do, stay consistent long enough to find out if what you’re doing works! For some, that means sticking to the same diet for many consecutive days (try for 10-14), and for those further along their journey, keeping their macros consistent long enough to see any change. If you’re looking to lose weight, you need to create a caloric deficit, whether through diet, exercise, or both (preferable!). Faddish diets such as Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, find a way to work ONLY by helping you remove troublesome food choices, which inevitably results in a calorie reduction! Find a way to quantify whatever you’re eating now, and try eating just a little less.
2. You’re removing entire food groups!
Many of the “fad” diets (read: Atkins, Paleo, South Beach) will tell you to eliminate whole food groups, and among the latest trends are the ideas of eliminating dairy and grains on the grounds that they are “inflammatory” (more on this in another post). Some personal trainers will tell you to NEVER eat a certain food or group of foods, as you will most certainly burst into flames. Run, far away and fast from this idea. Eliminating food groups in their entirety is a ridiculous idea. It is always worth observing how different foods and combinations make you feel, and if their effect is negative, change is in order. Atkins demonizes carbohydrates, but they are our main source for energy! It’s popular right now to swap cow’s milk for almond milk, but if you aren’t lactose intolerant, you’re missing out on valuable protein! Which leads to my next point…
3. You’re following someone else’s diet!
A few months ago, Dwayne Johnson’s meal plan was made public, and the 5160-calorie diet followed by the 6’5″ 279lb man they call “The Rock” went viral. Of course, many people put forth effort to follow his meal plan- some with the desire to attempt to consume 10lb of food in a day, but more with the intent of carving their way to a figure similar to the actor’s dominant physique. More or less, this resulted in a lot of people spending a lot of time throwing up, and those who succeeded longer than a day gained fat because they did not meet the metabolic demands of someone who far outweighs and out-trains them. For most reading this, The Rock’s diet may be a bit of an extreme example but it’s here to prove an even larger point. The diet that will best suit you, no matter your pursuit is an extremely individual set of parameters based on a number of factors including your activity level and overall health. Don’t pick a meal plan or diet out of some muscle magazine or off a website and try to mirror it! The most important factor in any diet choice is sustainability. If your nutritional habits aren’t something you can keep up over the long-term (or at least until your goal changes), it’s not going to bode well. The best diet is one which covers your nutritional bases while creating enough of a caloric deficit to aid in weight loss, while aiding performance and helping you to feel great!
Fat loss is no easy task – there are always aspects of life you can’t control and the “ideal” circumstances won’t ever exist! However, if you can separate the minutiae from the matter and focus more on the items above instead of “Should I get rid of bread?” or “White or brown rice?” – Focus on finding the right number of calories to create the caloric deficit you need to succeed, while keeping your options open and remaining practical! You will get there!