What’s the best diet for you? Should you be tracking calories? Is there any need? There’s lots of different ways to address your eating habits and change your diet in order to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply improve your health. Below I’m going to address the different diet methods you can apply to get you to your goal.
Lifelong vs Timebound
You might have a holiday in 5 weeks time, a wedding in 6 months or you might want to make a change for life. Depending on how much effort you want to put into the process, what your preference is and how specific you want to be will determine which method you use. Be mindful of what you’ve tried in the past, what did/didn’t work. Why did you fail last time? What caused you too fall off the wagon and go back to square 1 (or likely worse)? Being mindful of a previous experiences will increase your likelihood of success next time round.
Simply Making Better Choices
We’re great believers in making the process as simple as possible. If cutting out junk food is all you need to do, eat less takeaways, eat a bit more fruit and veg and increase your protein a bit then there’s no need to make it any more complicated. Most people know where their downfall fall is. If motivation levels are there to make those changes, then this is the easiest way to improve your nutrition.
Habit Change Checklist
Picking 3 simple/small habits that you’ll adhere to EVERY day is a great way to make a significant change. Write the 3 habits you’re going to change on a page, write the days of the week across the top of the page and tick off each one at the end of the day if you’ve done it.
- Consume protein at every meal.
- Eat 3 portions of veg.
- Only eat one biscuit, bun, or square of chocolate.
If you are are successful with these for 60 days, then change the habits. Don’t stop doing the previous ones but pick 3 more that will improve your progress, such as:
- Consume 2 litres of water
- Eat 1 piece of fruit
- Only eat when sitting at the dinner table.
You get the idea.
Follow a Popular Diet
Many people find success in following diets or joining weight loss groups. A example of this would Weight Watchers, a points based system which aims to help with portion control.
Slimming World is another popular weight loss group, which is based on food optimising and a syns system. These groups provide people with social support but often only work in the short term as people don’t actually learn anything, however others do have success if they stick to it.
Intermittent fasting is another popular approach. Examples of this would be the 5:2 diet, where an individual reduces calories drastically on 2 days a week or the 16:8 diet which restricts eating to an chosen 8 hour time period each day. Each method creates a calorie deficit if followed correctly, but in a different way.
Written Food Diary
Writing down everything you eat on a piece of paper can be very enlightening! Seeing a day’s food intake all in one place can highlight the fact that you eat more (or less) than you think you do. Most people don’t need a degree to look at a weeks food intake and see what’s going wrong. 90% of the time there’s not enough veg and too much junk, desserts, snacks and processed food. Writing everything down can be a great way to keep yourself accountable. If you feel guilty or have to think twice about writing it down, should you really be eating it? A final point on this, don’t fill it in at the end of the day, or even worse every few days. Some day you’ll forget what you’ve eaten and the whole thing will fall to the wayside. Keep your page with you and fill it in as soon as you’ve finished eating. Evaluate at the end of the day and decide what you could improve the next day.
Weighed Food Diary
This is the same as above, except all your food is weighed. It can be entered into nutrition analysis software to give you a full dietary assessment. Alternatively, you can enter it into a calorie tracking app (as most people don’t have access to analysis software) which will be addressed in the next point.
Calorie Tracking App/Website
This is similar to writing everything you eat down, except you put it into an app or a website. Apps are the handiest as you usually have your phone on you. We recommend using My Fitness Pal, but there are loads out there. This enables you to quantify your calorie intake to hit given targets. The over riding factor of fat loss is creating a calorie deficit through exercising more, eating less or ideally doing both. In regards to creating a deficit by eating, it’s a matter of consuming less calories than your body needs to ‘stay the same’. We recommend a deficit of 150-200 calories to start with, or a 15-20% reduction of your maintenance calories daily. Every individual is different depending on their starting weight and circumstance. If you track via this method consistently, you’ll be able to track your progress very precisely and change your targets accordingly to make progress. If you have the technology know-how, the time and the ability to do so, this is an extremely useful tool for nutritional success.
We aim to help members find the best way the works for them. Everyone is different. What works for your best friend may not work for you, leaving you baffled and frustrated. With so many different approaches, it’s important to consider which method will suit you best and you’ll be able to stick to.