Whether it’s for someone new to fitness or someone who is a competitor, diet always seems to play a major role. There are so many diet fads out there. Many people find it difficult to start a diet for their individual needs, let alone, stick to one. Before I delve into this discussion, lets break down what the word diet means.
Many people think that a diet is a special or strict set of foods that you eat in order to lose weight. Diet is a term that simply refers to what you are eating on a day to day basis. Once a fitness or wellness goal is established, a diet will focus on foods that will help you reach your goals. For instance, a diet low in saturated fats and sodium will help if the goal is weight loss.
A Diet Should Never Eliminate An Entire Food Group
This leads me to my next point; a diet should never eliminate an entire food group. Exercise elicits an increase in calories and nutrients. Calories are a unit of measurement of energy. Specifically, the energy required to raise the temperature of a gram of water by 1° Celsius. When exercise starves your body, calories are key, but where you get these calories is important.
There is a distinction between calorie dense food and nutrient dense food. The reason there are so many food groups and types is due to the wide range of nutrients that are available from them. For example, cutting veggies means that your body will miss various vitamins and minerals that are imperative for body regulation and hormone production. Also, cutting meat will deprive your body of complete proteins that are necessary for muscle protein synthesis. I’m not saying that vegans have it all wrong, but plant based proteins are more difficult for our bodies to absorb. If you are cutting food groups for medical reasons or personal principles, that’s one thing, but cutting them to try to cut weight is an entirely different monster.
My second point is called “flexible dieting.” People who have extreme fitness goals like those who are on prep (contest preparation) take cheat days or meals throughout the week to help them stay on goal. It is much easier to stay on calorie or macro nutrient goals when you know exactly when you will be able to have a cheat day rather than just having a cheat meal when work has been hard or when you want to give into a craving.
In the end, it comes down to learning what will work for your body and often it means trial and error over a period. Crash dieting will make your body lose weight, but at the cost of your health. Fitness is the ability to perform a task, health is the ability for all the organ systems in your body to work together efficiently. When implementing a flexible dieting model, it allows you to set an eating schedule and plan that will ensure success long term. Then your health will be something that you maintain as opposed to something that goes up and down every few months or so.
By: James Mingle