The answer to this question is important. However, is what's on your plate working for you? Thats even more important. If you haven't noticed there are a million (not really) ways to eat. You can do a high protein/high carb/low fat, keto, animal based, paleo, Atkins, carb cyclin, etc.. you get my point. All of these are great options if they work for you. I am a big fan of Keto, but not for everyone. I also like a higher carb plan for leaner, more active clients but not for everyone. If you don't have a coach it really comes down to trial and error. I personally believe having balance in your nutrition is key.
Here are some key things to think about when building your nutrition plan on your own.
A- The best diet is the one that is easiest for you to adhere to.
Many of the "diets" mentioned earlier can be pretty restrictive. We will use Keto as an example. It pretty much eliminates an entire macro by keeping carbs at 20 or less grams per day. You are limited even how many veggies and fruit you can have because those carbs will add up quick. Physique athletes will notice a loss of muscle fullness due to the lack of carbs pulling water into the muscle. On the other hand Keto has been shown to help those with weight loss by limited insulin and becoming fat adapted to utilize stored body fat for energy. Ketones that are produced can help with preserving muscle while in a caloric deficit (more on this later) and ggreat mental clarity. Are you someone who doesn't want to or doesn't have the time to eat 4-6 meals per day. Keto may be a great choice as protein and fat can be more satiating. This allows you to not be so meal focused and go longer between meals which can help with being more productive through out your day. Where as a typical bodybuilder may be eating 5-7 meals to hit their calorie demand. So, experiment and find the way of eating that best fits your level of fitness, lifestyle and is the easiest to stick with over the long haul.
B- You need to know what your starting point is.
When I get a client started on a nutrition plan, I have them track their meals for 7-14 days first. I want to see their habits, their food choices and most importantly their average calories and macros over those days. Was their any weight loss over that timeline as well. You need to know where to begin. All too often we will automatically jump on a 1200 calorie diet we find online or some app tells us to follow. This is done without knowing these starting numbers or what we call a baseline. Lets say you have been eating 1800 calories per day on average. You jump on this 1200 calorie diet you found. You will or should lose weight on this. BUT, thats a 600 calorie drop right off the bat. Where do you go from there? Are you supposed to eat 1000, 900 or 800 calories after you hit a plateau? So, track your meals and be honest. I have so many clients that get started, tell me what they've been eating. I put their plan together with increased carbs and calories. Then they respond that they can't live off such low carbs. Well your logs you sent me were at 80 grams of carbs per day and I increase to 120 grams and wanting to see how their body responds. This lets me know right away that the original log wasn't accurate. So be honest with yourself. Most cases, in my experience, we are eating way more than we think.
C- Calories matter.
Now that you know your starting point. It is time to set up your nutrition plan. Regardless what you have seen. You have to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight or body fat. Even plans like keto or doing intermittent fasting are some crazy magical solution other than they help mange calories. If you do a keto plan but eat 50 calories over your maintenance calories you may not lose the weight you are shooting for. There are many ways to manage the deficit as well. You can do things like carb cycling, alternate day fasting, these allow you to have high and low calorie days but for the week you should still be in a deficit. Increasing your daily activity can assist in putting you in that deficit.
D- Eat for your goals.
Are you trying to get stage ready? Do you have an autoimmune disease? Are you just trying to make small healthy changes to your lifestyle?
You want to make sure your plate or your diet is a reflection of your goals. If you are trying to get stage ready you may find a few variables. You will have to suffer to get that lean. This is extreme and not necessarily a healthy way of life. You will have to be more restrictive but will also have phases of high refeed days. Where as if you are trying to make a lifestyle change, we want you to have more balance. You want to just start taking those little changes that over time will help you transition into a healthier way of life.
So "What's on your plate?" How will your plate change? How can I help you with making these adjustments?
Chances are if you took the time to read through this post you are searching for more info on a healthier lifestyle, weight loss or general fitness. I will try to post a weekly blog providing a little info that may just help.
Thanks for reading and have a great day.
Always Keep Flexin