Diet is key.
You can’t out exercise a bad diet.
Fitness success is 99% nutrition.
Eat for your goals.
There are so many sayings in the fitness industry like the ones mentioned above that suggest you need to check and re-check what you put in your mouth for optimal results. I couldn’t agree more. For most people, it’s not the workouts that create the biggest challenge of a fitness program … it’s the nutrition.
MY INTRODUCTION TO DIETING
I learned what the word “diet” meant when I was in junior high school. Sixth grade, I believe, when girls started talking about what jeans size they wore. I started noticing a difference in my jeans size between sixth grade, seventh grade and finally eighth grade when I went from a size 4 to a 6 then to a size (gulp!) 8! As I approached my freshman year of high school I was deathly afraid of hitting a size 10. I was never heavy, but my mom and grandmother blessed me with a tiny upper frame, small waist and big hips, thighs and butt! Thus began my lifelong fascination with diets and nutrition, and how they affect the body … at the ripe old age of 11.
DIETS, DIETS EVERYWHERE!
Since 1988 (when I was in 6th grade), diets, information about health, fitness, disease and nutrition have changed drastically. Despite my knowledge of nutrition, the masses of information (some contradicting each other) even baffles me sometimes, so I am not surprised the least bit at how confusing it must be to you all as well.
I have good news and bad news: All diets “work” (to a point) and all diets have their downside.
To be more specific, you can most likely adopt nearly any commercial or popular nutrition plan or “diet” and see some kind of result from it. There are a few factors that come into play when I say that all diets “work” and you will likely see some kind of “results.” The understanding or meaning of a diet “working” is that by incorporating it, the diet is giving you the results you want. But not everyone has the same goal, so the word “results” is going to mean something different to everyone.
Let’s take the ketogenic diet for example. If your goal is to lose weight or lose body fat, you may see some initial weight loss in the form of water weight, a little excess body fat and maybe some muscle. This could add up to 8 to 10 pounds weight loss on the scale simply because you drastically reduced your carb intake over the course of a few weeks.
Don’t be fooled by this. You may not continue to drop weight, and your body hasn’t necessarily converted from using glycogen to using ketones for energy. The goal of a ketogenic diet shouldn’t be focused on weight loss, the goal is to teach your body to utilized ketones instead of glycogen for energy. The true health, fitness and body fat loss benefits come well after you become keto adapted, which can take three to six months depending on many factors. This is just one example. Mistakenly, many people adopt various diets for a certain goal, but end up quickly disappointed after they plateau or stop seeing results so they hop on another diet train and ride that one until the next “stop.”
And you wonder why your metabolism and adrenals are shot. Diet “hopping” is the fastest way to kill your metabolism. So each time you hop on another fad diet train, your metabolism functions less and less efficiently but you keep thinking maybe this next one will work.
THE “BEST” DIET
There really is no general “best” diet. As I mentioned earlier, everyone has different goals and wants different results. Some people eat for health first and foremost while other people eat for optimal performance (which goes and-in-hand with health, in my opinion) and others diet for aesthetic purposes and physique goals (I also think this is related to health, because a healthy body and metabolism will respond better to a fitness program).
Believe me when I say I have experimented with nearly every diet under the sun: High carb/no fat diet, high protein/no fat, intermittent fasting, vegetarian, raw vegan, Paleo, various detox diets including juicing diets, Adkins and other low carb/high fat diets, and extreme ketogenic diets. From my personal experience, I felt the most unhealthy and lacking in strength and energy when I was eating a raw food vegan diet (some people love it and do great eating that way, it just made me feel very weak, tired and I got sick often after doing it for nearly three months).
I feel the most healthy, balanced, energized and strong when I am eating an extreme ketogenic diet. I get the best physique changes and body composition results when I eat a more traditional bodybuilding/competition prep type diet or a carb cycle similar to the diets in the Nicole Wilkins Challenges. On occasion, I do feel like my digestive system needs a complete break from meat, so I may eat only raw salads with lots of healthy oils and vegetarian fats for a day or two. All of these are extremely different diets, all of them “work” and all of them have a downside as well.
HOW TO CHOOSE A HEALTHY EATING STYLE
With so many different fad diets, nutrition plans, ways of eating and other food-related things out there, you might often feel overwhelmed and question if you are eating the right things in the right amount for your body and your goals. I can’t tell you what is the right way for you to eat, but I can tell you that you have the power to figure that out!
1. Eat For Your Goals
Choose a goal, such as improving your health or changing your body composition. You can lose weight a number of different ways, but I find that most people who want to lose weight also have a deeper more specific goal in mind, such as lose weight for health reasons or lose weight and gain lean muscle so they can look fit. Be specific about what you want your nutrition goals to accomplish.
2. Listen To Your Body
Don’t adopt a diet just because “everyone is doing it” or because someone said you should eat a certain way (unless they are your coach or dietitian that you trust, but even then listen to your body). Your body will tell you if something you are doing doesn’t feel quite right, or doesn’t feel healthy, or isn’t working for the results you want.
3. Assess And Reassess
Assess your results often to see if what you’re doing is working for you toward the goal you’re trying to achieve. You can assess every week or every other week or once a month. If it’s working, don’t change anything, but if progress has slowed down or stopped, you may need to tweak a few minor things to get progress jump started again.
4. Don’t Base Your Decision On Someone Else’s Results
You hear this all the time, I know, but I think people have a harder time swallowing this truth than they care to admit. Everyone’s body responds differently. What works for one person may not work for you. Don’t think “What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t this working for me?” I know that if someone else ate the way I eat they most likely wouldn’t get the results I get because it has taken me years of adjusting to get my body and metabolism to it’s current state. You can only concern yourself with what you are doing and how your body is responding to what you are doing. This doesn’t mean you can try other things and experiment, but when you find what you like that works for you, don’t change it because someone else is getting results eating a completely different way than you.
With so many diets out there, you are better off just focusing on what you know works for you. Definitely educate yourself if you are curious about a way of eating that is new to you, but remember that all diets “work” (to a point) and all diets have their downside. There really is no right or wrong, just what works for you and your goals.
Tip Me Tuesday: Work That Muscle
Tip Me Tuesday: Happiness Leads To Success
Tip Me Tuesday: Give It A Rest
Tip Me Tuesday: Health Before Fitness
Tip Me Tuesday: Focus On Action For A Better Outcome
Tip Me Tuesday: Fight The Fear
Tip Me Tuesday: The 4 Cs
Tip Me Tuesday: Are You Really Hungry?
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.