To be or not to be…on a diet
This article is to help you to think about whether a diet is right for you or not, I will get into the specifics of several diets in other posts. When I say diet, I mean a food regimen, chosen by you, whether a well-known diet or a set of standards you want to adhere too. Either way, some nutritional guidelines are needed.
Paleo, Atkins, Vegetarian, Ketogenic, Beachbody and the list goes on and on! Which diet is best for me and what will help me achieve my goals are common questions asked by many. Diets can be confusing and may add stress to your life if you are not disciplined enough to follow one. Each diet has their advantages and disadvantages, is following one diet right? It may be for you but here is my experience.
I was very active throughout my life; however, my nutrition wasn’t always the best as a child, I would eat the typical junk food and never seemed to gain weight, youth is very forgiving. Early on, in my fitness journey I wanted to maximize my strength and endurance, therefore; I tried to be more aware of portion sizing and limiting sugar-heavy foods such as candy, etc. I built muscle and maintained a body fat of approximately 10-12%. It wasn’t until the past few years that I experimented with specific diets like Paleo and Ketogenic.
I have followed the diets listed above to a T. I found that there are components of each that fit my lifestyle. I do not believe that there is a diet out there that is “one size fits all”. What has worked for me does not work for others and visa-vi. Experimenting with several aspects of diets helps you find what actually works for you, your lifestyle and your body type.
I find that I do better when I am able to adapt a recipe to my likes, having a feeling of control helps me feel empowered about my fitness journey. This is what has worked for me. I also realize that others prefer to have the choices made for them, taking the guessing and planning out of the equation to a degree. For these reasons, it is important for you to try different strategies in order to find out what is going to work for you.
In the past, I have seen many people set a goal of losing weight and building muscle, pretty common, right! Sadly, I have seen these same people fail within days to weeks or even months, even though they have multiple resources available to them. People ask themselves; why didn’t this work or what am I doing wrong?
To get your mind thinking, I will ask this question, what if you only changed one thing? What if you try limiting sugar intake, or carbs, adding protein? Start out slow and continue to evolve your nutrition. Improving your nutrition doesn’t have to mean you completely clear out your kitchen and start over, it can be as simple as switching one thing at a time. I find this tactic is less intimidating.
A specific diet such as Paleo, low carb, vegan, etc. may be right for you if you are looking for set guidelines to follow without having to determine what they are for yourself. I would encourage someone looking for structure in what they eat to adopt one of these and experiment with it. Be sure to note what you like and what you don’t like about the diet, a journal is an excellent medium for this. Be sure to give your diet time to make an impact, some can show results in days and others may require weeks or months. Some people can find that following a strict diet can take the guessing game out of the equation while others find it limiting and stressful. You need to decide where you stand on these issues for yourself. There are pros and cons to each mindset.
If you are not looking for a specific diet and don’t want to take the time to try various strategies, focus on getting unprocessed foods and think about portion sizing. I could write a whole other article on portion sizing as America has some of the largest portions in the world. A great way to track your nutrition is the SUPER TRACKER at supertracker.usda.gov. Calorie counting may not be your thing but tracking portions and what you are eating may be, the SUPER TRACKER tool is an excellent resource for this purpose.Whatever you decide to do remember to journal your experiences so you can make informed adjustments as needed. This is about success, not immediate results.
Whatever you decide to do remember to journal your experiences so you can make informed adjustments as needed. This is about success, not immediate results.