Most people have no idea how to eat healthy or for fat loss. Even the people who do think they know a few things about diet generally get something wrong and can be even harder to get out of a bad habit! There are various reasons why your diet isn’t working, you could be having too much of this or not enough of that or just need a few tweaks here and there. One thing people need to understand is there is no perfect diet and trying to paint everyone with the one brush is a recipe for failure for most people. A good coach will be able to help you improve your nutrition in a way individual to your goals, current habits, work schedule, preferred foods and anything else to make it easier to stick to.
Most people have tried dieting before, usually some hyper strict diet they heard from a friend. But you’re not the same as your friend and it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t committed or motivated to lose weight because you wouldn’t eat chicken and rice 5 times per day, that just realistically isn’t going to work with some people. A good coach will have a few different options that I’m going to go through now.
Not technically a step but this should always be the first thing done. All we’re doing is assessing where you are now. I need to know in as much detail as possible what your eating habits are now and as much about your eating history as possible. This sets the tone for what changes may be needed. How much food are you eating, what types of food are you eating, what are you drinking. These all paint a picture of your current state. This can all be seen from filling out a food diary for 3-7 days and handing it in to me. From there we can move on to the next stages.
1. Small tweaks and adjustments
This is the most basic and easiest step in improving you nutrition. If you aren’t willing to get this done then there is no point in any other stages because they are all much more difficult! This will just be small adjustments to the food diary you showed, such as replacing the daily candy bars with something more nutritious, adding in/increasing breakfast to keep you full until lunch, coming up with a healthier lunch option that you’ll still enjoy and so on. There are loads of small changes that can be made and all will depend entirely on where your starting point is.
I think this should be the starting block for most people with crappy diets that haven’t a clue about nutrition. It can make a massive difference to things when done right. The changes in diet will be added gradually so as not to overload you. Once one new addition to the diet has been added in and became the norm the food diary will be filled in again to see whats the next thing to work on. This process can be repeated continuously as your nutrition improves.
PROS: Personalized, easily changeable, non-restrictive can be done long-term. CONS: Results can be slower, healthy foods could be over eaten as well
2. Meal plan
This is a big step up but one a lot of people jump straight to and wind up getting frustrated and quitting. A meal plan will be made up for you with foods you’d eat based off how many calories you need to reach your goals. There are formulas and recommendations used to calculate how many calories you need, from there a meal plan can be made up telling you exactly what to eat and the quantities of food.
After each week or two you should weigh yourself and see what this level of food has done to your weight. There is an element of trial and error to begin with this method. Even though all the formulas and studies might say that this many calories should see you lose weight, everyone is different and you may have gained weight or remained the same. Not to panic that’s why you check in with your coach, your food plan will be adjusted and you go through the process again. This is a great way to push your nutrition to the next level but does require discipline. Communication with the coach is also very important. Let the coach know if you’re struggling with anything and things can be adjusted to make it easier on you.
PROS: Highly detailed, No thinking required, faster results possible. wont have to count calories CONS: No thinking= no learning?, restrictive to a degree, Boring, More work for coach to do! will still have to weigh out food, not suitable long term.
3. Calorie counting
This is becoming more popular with people as technology has made it way easier to track food calories with the use of apps such as My Fitness Pal. Basically with this method you track everything you eat, food bar-codes can be scanned to get the calories, foods can be searched for, meals can be saved and recipes made. It is a handy app that does take some getting used to. The app will set your calories or you can adjust it yourself. The breakdown of carbs, fat and protein is also done in the app but it’s easy to ignore and can lead to people just focusing on the calories when really you need to balance out the 3.
This takes some getting used to as for the first 2-3 weeks you will be doing a lot of searching for your foods and creating recipes that you use often. After that bedding in period though all your recipes can be added easily whenever you eat them and food you eat regularly will appear in your “recent” or “frequent” foods. After that you should follow the same process as with the meal plan, see how you have adjusted to that set calories weekly and adjust based on coaches recommendations.
PROS: App highly detailed with calories and macros (protein, carbs and fat), you learn what foods are high calorie etc., faster fat loss possible, can be done long-term, room for eating out and treats. CONS: takes time to get used to, can be hard to get correct calories with certain foods,
There are hundreds of different diets out there that do work but most of them are over complicated, overly strict and un-sustainable long-term. If you’re having success with a diet like paleo, velocity, Ketogenic etc. that’s great keep it up but don’t start thinking that’s the be all and end all.
The three steps I showed here can work with anyone and it doesn’t have to be a set path, someone can stay on step one and keep seeing the results that they want. Start off small and see how you get on with small changes in your nutrition. Having a coach, nutritionist or dietitian guide you through this is invaluable. Always start with looking at what you are currently doing and see where you need to improve. Frequent re-assessments of your weight, bodyfat %, visual appearance and clothes tightness help to see if what you’re doing is working and make adjustments if required.