“What’s the best diet?”  We get asked this question a lot.

Nutrition is a HUGE part of being successful with your fitness goals.  Some of us want to add muscle, some want to lose body fat, some want to maintain their current state or any of a thousand other variations on those general concepts.  The reality is, the “best” diet is one that you can stick to.

I’ve tried a lot of different approaches during my athletic endeavors – from not caring at all when I was 18, to trying to get as “big” as possible in my mid-twenties, and then any and all of the keto, macro, paleo options that are out there. My weight through all of these different stages of my adult life has ranged from 180lbs to 235lbs (that’s a 55lb swing for those of us keeping track).  I now know where my body feels and performs the best and I understand how to get there if I find myself wavering off track a little bit.  I try to live my life somewhere along the lower end of those two body weights, but I go through fluctuations and periods of weight gain/loss throughout a year.  The trick is to recognize when things start to go off the rails, and get that train back on the tracks as quickly as possible. 

We count macros in our house – combining a ratio of proteins, carbs and fats to equal a calculated number of calories that are geared towards our particular goals at the time.  This sounds more complicated than it actually is…!  What we do is weigh and measure our food, scan packaging with our ever-present phones and then add those numbers into a convenient app that lets us know our totals for the day.  This has taken some practice but it seems to be what works for me EVERY time.  Consistency is key, you need to give your body what it needs so it can burn off the excess and get to an equilibrium where calories are not “stored” for later….otherwise known as body fat. 

I am a notorious under-eater – which may not sound like a real issue, but what happens is my body goes into “starvation mode” where any and all things I consume are held on to as energy – in the form of body fat – because my body doesn’t know when it’s going to be fed again.  Basically, if I’m not giving my body enough of what it needs, so it thinks it can’t get rid of ANY of it.  This translates to a change in body composition, a reduction in my athletic performance and – believe it or not – weight gain.  When I get back to consistent eating and tracking, my body responds well and I can get back to a place where I feel comfortable and athletic again.  Injuries are fewer and further between, energy levels are better and self confidence is also improved. 

This is what works for me, along with thousands of other athletes.  That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for everyone.  My suggestion is to always TRY the “diet” that peaks your interest.  The thing I like about this style of eating – because it’s not really a “diet” in the old-school way of thinking – is that there are zero restrictions.  You can eat anything you want – it may not be very much of that ice cream you love, and you may have to eat egg whites and broccoli for the rest of the day to hit your numbers, but you CAN have it!  Moderation is a large part of eating this way, but it is extremely flexible and adaptive.  You need to find what is effective and sustainable for you and your lifestyle.  When you do, give it time to take effect – if you quit after a month, chances are you haven’t given your body enough time to really make a change that will stick.  Your body needs roughly 12 weeks at a consistent weight to re-program itself to think that is now the weight where it feels comfortable and needs to stay.  Depending on our goals, it may take 4-40 months to get to that weight.  As an aside, it took me 18 months to get down to the lowest weight I accomplished, and that wasn’t sustainable for me.  I relaxed my approach a bit, put some weight back on and now feel better and can maintain this body composition a lot more easily. 

You may have heard us say “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”.  This is absolutely true, and when you change your eating habits to support and promote your exercise habits, you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make. 

Until next time, keep moving, keep growing, keep learning. 

See you at work.

Dan


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