More and more I see people arguing about which nutritional approach works and which doesn’t. The saddest thing is that all of this arguing and trying to make our own point of difference or unique selling point is simply confusing people. How are average Joe/Joanne meant to know what to do when one person says count calories, the next is saying calories don’t count then someone else chimes in with macros or timing. Then we’ve got eat this or eat that with the next person saying the opposite and of course it’s all backed up by science and numerous studies. The press and media don’t help with the constant one sided sensationalism of studies where often the headlines don’t match the story. Fitness magazines and celebrity diets promising results in 6 weeks etc.
So what’s the truth?
Unfortunately the truth is many of the different styles are all right, this is why it’s so confusing to everyone because we all know people whom it has or does work for. The truth in my opinion is its which approach will work for YOU.
I have friends who absolutely destroy carb levels that would leave me covered in a layer of fat yet are strong and lean, folks who eat super clean 4-5 days a week then go wild and I mean WILD on a weekend yet burn fat consistently, vegans who are jacked whilst eating approx 80% carbs 10% fat 10% protein. IIFYM people who weigh and measure everything they eat to hit the correct macro ratios and of course paleo/primal folk (myself included) that never weigh or measure a thing but focus on food types. The truth is all of these approaches work for those people.
Not helping am I?? Don’t worry I have a point and I’m getting to it.
See I told you I was getting to it. The first point is you need to have an open mind and ask yourself what exactly it is you want to achieve, and probably equally as important is what you are willing to do to achieve it. If you can’t imagine yourself following this plan for the next 6 months or 6 years then maybe it’s not the plan for you, unless you have a specific short-medium term goal such as getting on stage etc.
Do your research, the library and the Internet are full of well educated people with well researched information. Seek out the folks who follow the various plans/styles and ask them for info or where they got their info from, trust me most of us are utter geeks about it and love to talk at length about why we chose the path we do.
Read the counter arguments too, just because I follow the path I follow doesn’t mean I don’t read or learn about vegan diets or read the IIFYM content out there. I regularly converse with folks that follow these plans and ask questions if I don’t understand.
Pyramid of Adherence
My belief is that we need to look at where we are and use a stepped approach to our diet and think of it like a pyramid. If we had the obese at the bottom, and bodybuilder/cover models at the top with the rest fitting somewhere in between.
Bear with me here. So the obese really don’t need a huge level of buy in, it’s hard enough for them anyway with all of the hormonal disregulation let alone having to count this or measure that. All they need to do it start on a healthier path eating real food, ditching the processed stuff and getting back to nature (a simple real food diet) preferably I’d like to see a removal of wheat but thats my own bias and just switching to whole grains would be a start.
As we move up the pyramid (getting leaner) we need to start tightening up on things, setting tighter limits. Either we can start to count calories and/or macros which really suits some people who like to have those controls in place or if this seems like it’s not for you then just focus even more on the quality of food, better fats, remove grains but still keeping plenty of starchy vegetables (potato etc) this is still very easy to follow and requires very little will power, once you get over the bread thing that is. This is where our own 30day kickstart sits on the pyramid and any of our clients will tell you it’s not at all difficult to follow. This is how our more recent ancestors lived and it served them well, after all there was no obesity epidemic in the early 1900’s. Obviously I’m still coming from my paleo/primal bias here but bear with me.
It’s my belief that this simple approach of just getting back to eating real food will get most people to a decent level of body fat, say 10-15% in men and 20% in women.
At this point I feel the other stricter protocols are required, you do need to start either limiting and counting exactly what your consuming or when your consuming it. You do need to start counting calories or macros. You will need to start restricting carbs or fat dependant on your chosen path. This is where your fighting your bodies natural levels of bodyfat and as such you will need to do ever stricter regimes as you try to achieve ever lower bodyfat levels. Don’t kid yourselves though, the guys on stage or on the cover of a fitness magazine do not look like that year round, it has taken tremendous amounts of will power and sacrifice to achieve that look for that one day. Most of us just don’t have the will power or inclination to do what those folk have to do to look like that. Don’t get me wrong we are all physically capable but in all honesty we aren’t mentally capable, that’s why the top of the pyramid is so small.
Decide what you want to achieve, look at what’s required to achieve it and start slow. Get the basics in place first with a simple easy to follow plan and tighten it up as you go on (like you’ll be tightening your belt) remember it’s not about how fast you start but how you finish that counts.
I follow my chosen path because it’s the one that suits MY life, no I’ll most probably never look like a cover model but I will be able to maintain this for the rest of my life whilst remaining healthy, lean and strong so it suits ME.
Find YOUR path and start walking it today.