14 Feb The best diet to follow for weight loss
Here’s a fact: Most diets are based on dumb, make believe rules that are there to scare you or overcomplicate your life.
When it comes to the best diet to follow for weight loss, you’re going to need to break many of those rules that you’ve been told you need to do. Rules like you shouldn’t eat carbs after 6pm or you need to cut out sugar from your diet or you should only eat brown rice instead of white rice. I got fired from my first ever job for breaking a dumb rule. But I didn’t regret it one bit.
You too, won’t regret breaking dumb weight loss rules. This is the kind of progress you can make if you do:
My online client Kim’s progress so far is pretty cool considering she has been going to weddings and hen’s parties almost every weekend. She hasn’t cut out any food groups and she’s only been working out 3 days a week!
I also achieved huge changes in my body composition by breaking a bunch of weight loss rules I had made up in my head.
So I bet you want to know what diet you need to follow to do this.
It is a diet built around 7 rules. These are the only rules that you shouldn’t break when it comes to dieting.
Whether you want to:
– lose weight
– improve health
– lose fat
– build muscle or
– all of the above
the best diet to follow is based upon these 7 rules.
Rule #1: The King of all diets is the calorie
I like good quality food as much as I like good quality clothes. But when it comes to dieting, quantity matters more than quality. This is because ENERGY BALANCE MATTERS most for fat loss and muscle gain.
In the nutrition world ENERGY = FOOD = CALORIES
Yes calories matter and there is such a thing as “calories in vs calories out”. We all have a certain amount of energy that the body requires to stay alive. This is your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and will vary depending on a number of factors such as your age, height, weight, body fat percentage, dieting history and so on.
In addition to your BMR, your daily energy needs depend on how much activity you do, both in terms of exercise and non-exercise activity (for example standing up for work is more energy demanding than sitting down). Your BMR plus activity combined is your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).
To stay the same weight you need to eat the same amount of calories as your TDEE. These are your maintenance calories.
To gain weight you need to eat more calories than your TDEE = calorie surplus
To lose weight you need to eat less calories than your TDEE = calorie deficit
If you’ve tried counting calories before and it hasn’t worked, you’ve probably done something wrong:
- You used a standard calorie target that was not determined based on YOUR body, activity level and goals
- You weren’t using a digital food scale to weigh your food
- You only used body weight as a measure of progress
- You didn’t do it for long enough!
Give it another go! Learn how to do it the right way in my article here.
Rule #2: Protein is important for both fat loss and muscle gain
The calorie is the king and if he had to choose a queen it would be protein. Together they play the biggest role in changing how your body looks. The best diet to follow for weight loss is one that includes lots of protein.
When you eat in a calorie deficit, you will naturally lose a combination of fat and lean body mass (including muscle). This isn’t ideal for health or for getting that toned “look”.
If you go about just losing lots of weight without paying attention to building and keeping muscle, then you’ll end up skinny fat. This is where protein comes in. It helps you build new muscle and retain muscle whilst you lose fat. Plus, protein is essential to the body as it plays a number of structural and functional roles. But if you eat too much of it, protein can make you fat. Remember, calories are still king!
Rule #3: Fat and carbs can both be enjoyed guilt free
Is the devil carbs or is it fat? How about neither! Technically fat is stored more easily in the body as fat than what carbs are. But neither carbs nor fat will make you fat. Too much food will make you fat.
Dietary fat is needed by the body for hormone production, nutrient absorption and it also plays a structural role. Carbs are not necessary to the body. Yes, you can survive without eating carbs. But it doesn’t mean this is optimal.
I could talk about carbs and fats all day so to keep things simple the best diet to follow for weight loss includes both fat and carbs- just don’t go over your calorie needs.
Rule #4: Vegetables should take up the most room in your fridge…
…And maybe on your plate too. Whilst Protein, Carbs and Fats make up three of the main macronutrients- the nutrients your body needs in greater quantities, micronutrients are the nutrients your body needs in smaller quantities.
They might be required in small quantities but they are super important for overall health, performance in the gym, mental state and your ability to put on muscle.
Micronutrients include vitamins which are necessary for things like blood clotting and energy production as well as minerals (think calcium, magnesium and potassium for example) which are required for things like bone health and fluid balance.
The best way to ensure you are hitting all your micronutrient needs is to eat lots of whole foods (like fruit, vegetables, meat, starchy carbs, etc) every day. Ideally you want to get around 80% of your daily calories from whole foods and the other 20% from whatever you like. That way you’ll get a variety of micronutrients in you diet whilst still having the flexibility to eat treats.
Vegetables are useful when dieting to lose weight because they can help make your meals seem bigger without adding too many extras calories. They also make you feel full because of the high amount of fibre they contain.
Oh I almost forgot to mention WATER!
Technically it is another macronutrient but it doesn’t provide energy like protein, carbs and fats. Water can help with fat loss as often you’ll mistake hunger for dehydration. A general recommendation is 1 Litre of water for every 23kg of body weight, or 2/3 of your body weight (in pounds) in fluid ounces.
Rule #5: You can eat however frequently you like
Skipping breakfast is NOT going to slow down your metabolism just like eating it doesn’t really boost your metabolism for the day. And eating carbs after 6pm is NOT going to make you gain fat while you sleep.
Meal frequency and meal timing matter much less than you may think for fat loss and muscle gain. However, they can be manipulated to help with things like hunger and performance in the gym.
Generally it can be ideal to have something to eat about an hour before working out. This meal should be mostly carbs and some protein. Then within an hour after working out, it can be ideal to have some protein and carbs to help build new muscle tissue. Overall though making sure you get enough protein over the course of the day is going to matter much more than getting it in straight after your workout.
In terms of meal frequency, this is up to what you prefer. If you have a large calorie budget to play with then spreading this over 5-6 meals may make more sense than eating 2 crazy big meals that will leave you feeling sick. If you don’t really have time to eat breakfast in the morning and prefer to save more calories so you can eat bigger meals later in the day, then you might want to fast in the morning. The important thing is to create some kind of structure that you can stick to.
Rule #6: Supplements will not save you
If you need to lose 20 pounds of body fat, do you really think some magical pill is going to do that for you? The problem with many supplements on the market is that the effect they might have in a science lab is insignificant when it comes to your body. The best diet to follow for weight loss doesn’t need to include any supplements. However, some supplements can be useful in certain circumstances.
For example, if you have trouble getting enough protein to hit your target then you might find a protein powder useful. But it isn’t going to help you lose weight if you are not already following a plan that puts you into a calorie deficit. Remember the first rule: Calories are KING! Protein powders still contain calories and if you have this in addition to your regular diet you may be unpleasantly surprised to find you gain fat.
Another example when supplements might be useful is if you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral because of your dietary choices. For example, Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products or fortified grains so if you choose to not eat these then you may need to look into a Vitamin B12 supplement.
For specific info on supplements I’ve written a more complete article on the common ones here.
Rule #7: Consistency and adherence are key
Do you save the best thing on your plate for last or eat it first? I always save the best for last which is probably why I kept the most important rule for last. CONSISTENCY AND ADHERENCE ARE KEY!! If you can’t stick to your diet for long enough you will not make the progress you desire.
Sticking to your diet is dictated by two things: your behaviour and your lifestyle. You need a diet you can adhere to even when you feel sad or happy or stressed. If you can stick to it even when you have a party on the weekend or when a friend surprise visits you from out of town, you are going to have more success than if you keep falling off track each weekend because something comes up.
Life is full of unexpected events and not everything will go to plan. This is why I LOVE macro tracking as a dieting tool as it allows you to be more flexible and take into account these events without going completely off track. You can read more about tracking your macros here.
At the end of the day consistency beats perfection. Don’t aim for a perfect diet- it doesn’t exist. Aim to adhere to your plan as closely as possible and do it consistently over a long period of time.
The best diet to follow for weight loss is any diet that takes into account all of these rules.
If you want to take control of your diet and get awesome results from your hard work in the gym then follow these rules.
Follow them for a long time and watch what happens.
If you break them because you get tempted by some quick fix diet then know that there will be consequences- like getting fired from your job, except worse. You’ll probably have to go back to your binge eating/ yoyo dieting cycle and be scared of carbs forever.
Ps. I haven’t made up these rules. They are based on science and have been adapted mainly from the Muscle and Strength Nutrition Pyramid by Eric Helms, Andrea Valdez and Andy Morgan, as well as the International Society of Sports Nutrition text book. I recommend checking them out if you need more convincing!