The “BEST” Diet?

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More often than not, when we come across a problem in life, there is more than one way to resolve it. Everyday I’m surrounded by people that are trying to lose weight, build muscle, etc. There is a constant debate going on about the “best” diet. It would be SO awesome if there was a magic pill that would work for anyone and everyone, but there’s not. So I got to thinking, who says there has to be just one?

I’ve personally witnessed all types of diets work for one person, while someone else makes no progress at all. Is this because of the diet itself? Is it because the person didn’t adhere to it properly? Maybe it worked for a while, but just wasn’t sustainable? There are many reasons a diet can fail, so the question we need to ask is: What makes a diet successful?

There are 3 main factors involved when it comes to successful dieting.

Is it Sustainable?

This is what I believe to be the most important factor to a successful diet. Obviously, if you can’t sustain a diet long term, it’s not going to get you the results you’re looking for. Remember guys, there are no quick fixes. If someone tries to sell you a “lose weight fast” product you should run away screaming in the opposite direction. A truly successful diet is one that is permanent. It curbs the way you think about food. It becomes a part of your life. Changing the way that you eat for 30 days, and then returning to your old habits, will not keep you in shape forever. It takes dedication.

You need to choose a diet that allows you to still live your life. 2 great examples would be Weight Watchers or IIFYM. While nothing is technically “off limits” on these diets, they do still require you to think and learn about the food you’re eating.

Weightwatchers breaks food down into points. They focus on nutritional value. Something that is considered low calorie may still be higher in points because it doesn’t offer any real nutrients. In other words, they’re empty calories. You’re better off eating 100 calories in tuna, then you are in pretzels because the tuna will do more for you. A person would get a specific amount of points throughout the day that they could consume. It’s actually eye opening to a lot of people when they realize just how fast things add up. I had one client that went back through what would have been a normal day before she started weight watchers and she said she was eating DOUBLE the amount she should have been. You also get a certain amount of extra points per week as well as exercise points. You want to try not to eat your exercise points, but they’re there if you truly need them or have a little slip up. Weightwatchers takes the slow and steady approach because it’s the safest way to diet and one of the most sustainable, long term.

IIFYM (If it fits your macros) focuses on the amount of protein, carbs and fats that you’re are allowed per day. This is similar to Weight Watchers because it forces the dieter to actually know what’s in their food and gives them a certain number to hit per day. I usually recommend this diet to clients that are a bit more experienced and don’t have as far to go. The biggest difference between this and Weight Watchers is that IIFYM doesn’t focus quite as much on nutritional value of foods. Of course, it’s not an excuse to live off of donuts because you still have to hit your protein for the day, but there’s nothing stopping you from eating a donut as part of your carbs/fats for the day. It’s sustainable because it doesn’t eliminate anything. You feel as though you’re still able to go out and live your life. This is my personal favorite. A few years ago, I started following this way of dieting and lost almost 15 pounds. I never felt neglected. If you’re interested in learning more, a great smartphone application is MyFitnessPal.

I actually have another client that religiously tracked her food on MyFitnessPal. She got to a point where she wasn’t making any progress, so we knew something had to be off. This particular client is a unique case because she has several dietary restrictions and gastrointestinal issues. She began using Weight Watchers about a month ago, all the while still tracking on MyFitnessPal and had a very interesting result. The scale started to move again and she was feeling better. Even though she was meeting her numbers everyday, she was eating lots of empty calories. When she started focusing more on nutrients through Weight Watchers, her body kicked it into gear. This goes to show that Weight Watchers works better for her, while other people do better with the freedom of IIFYM.

Are you happy?

This may seem like a basic, silly question but it actually holds quite a bit of weight. It ties into sustainability. If you’re not happy with something you’re not going to stick with it and therefore you’re not going to be successful. One diet that I’ve tried in the past was the low carb diet. I discovered rather quickly that I LIVE for carbs. Even though it didn’t work out for me, I personally know of several people that have excelled at it. It’s a fat burner. The mistake a lot of people make that take part in, for example, the Atkins diet, is that when they decide to go back to eating carbs they don’t reverse back into it slowly enough. If you can stick to it long enough you will burn fat, but at first you lose a lot of water weight. This happens because carbs act as a sponge. When you cut carbs, you also shed water weight because they go hand in hand. This is why there is a large weight drop relatively quickly in a low carb diet. If you do it properly though, it definitely works. Again, it’s not for everyone, but for some, it’s the best way to go. Being happy on your diet goes a LONG way.

Do you see results?

The definition of success is achieving or accomplishing something. If you can sustain a diet, and are happy while doing it, you will see results. What’s that saying? Don’t expect results from the work you didn’t do? A big thing here is that you need to be honest with yourself (and your trainer… for the love of GOD, please be honest with your trainer). Lying to yourself or me is not going to help anyone. Of course I want you to succeed, but if you slip up it impacts you, not me. One of my biggest pet peeves when talking nutrition with clients is when they try to blame the diet (or exercise) as the problem. I’ll let you in on a little secret: most people are terrible liars. When you have to “think about” what you ate over the weekend, you shouldn’t have to think that hard. One thing that’s happened multiple times is a client will come in on Monday and tell me they had pizza on Saturday night. Okay, fine, a little slip up, no big deal. A few days later they’ll mention the ice cream they ate Sunday afternoon. Oh, and the beer from Friday night… We went from a slip up to a full on train wreck. Just be honest with me, be honest with yourself. If you’re truly not seeing results, I want to help you get to the bottom of it. We can’t do that if you don’t tell me everything. If you’re cheating on your diet, that’s the issue, not the diet itself. A successful diet WILL get you results.

Another issue that I’d like to point out is that most successful diets are slow and steady. Unless you’re significantly overweight and/or working out several hours a day, you’re not going to lose 5+ pounds every week. I have SO many clients that focus too much on the scale. One in particular weighs herself literally EVERY DAY. Sometimes multiple times per day. One day she’ll come in smiling because she’s down 2 tenths of a pound, and other days she’ll almost be in tears because she’s up half a pound. I calmly tell her, as I’ve told her many MANY times, that our weight can fluctuate several pounds day to day. Half a pound is certainly nothing to lose sleep over. Weigh ins that are farther spread out are way more accurate. If she had been up half a pound after 2 weeks with no progress, then I would be a bit concerned. If you can’t wait that long to weigh in, weigh yourself 3 days in a row at the same time of day and take the average. That will be way more accurate than just going day to day.

The most important thing to take away from this is that it’s up to you to be successful at your diet. It doesn’t matter which one you choose to follow. If you’re currently dieting, ask yourself our 3 questions.

Is what I’m doing sustainable? Low calorie diets and NO carb diets are not sustainable. You can’t starve yourself and expect to live a healthy life. Am I happy with what I’m doing? This should be a relatively easy question to answer. Placing any severe restriction on yourself is not a healthy thing to do. Finding a healthy balance is key to happiness when it comes to dieting. If you enjoy your low carb diet, excellent! If you’re freaking miserable, try something else! Can you still go out with friends and family every now and then and enjoy yourself? Are you getting results? If you’re truly following your diet, and you’re not getting results, you may be eating at or above maintenance. Try adjusting your points, or calories, and see if you see any changes. When you truly stick to it, no matter what diet you choose, it WILL work. You need to find what works BEST for YOU. That will be the “BEST” diet.

Until next time…


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I'm an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist. I worked in a gym setting back in Florida for over 2 years, training one-on-one clients and leading group fitness classes. I absolutely loved it, but once we moved across the country to Colorado, I decided to take the opportunity to pursue a slightly different career! My obsession with exercise and love for writing collided, which is how I became a fitness lifestyle writer.

1 Comment

  1. Linda

    June 10, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Great information. Thank you! I love your blog it keeps me encouraged as well as informed!

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