When it comes to nutrition, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) thinks they’re an expert. From the friend who lost 10kg from Celebrity Slim, to the gym-junkie who got super shredded on a low-carb diet. They all dish out advice – but what is the best option for you? And, are these extremes really necessary to reach a certain body composition goal?
Google is the most readily available resource that is commonly used (or misused) when looking for nutrition advice. To give you a little insight, below are some of the most searched “diet terms” according to Google Trends:
- Paleo Diet
- Atkins Diet
- Gluten-Free Diet
- Mediterranean Diet
- South Beach Diet
Quick tip: if a diet contains the word “beach” – please run!
There are a few things that all of the above diets have in common – they’re restrictive, not adjustable, not flexible and not sustainable. When implementing a new diet, ask yourself:
- Is this diet restrictive of certain food or nutrient groups?
- Can I adjust or modify this diet if progress slows or stalls?
- Does this diet allow flexibility in food choice?
- Can I see myself continuing this diet for a long period of time?
Now, there are individuals who have successfully lost weight on these “diets” but it is important to know that they haven’t lost weight because they have restricted a certain nutrient or eliminated a food group – they have lost weight because they have achieved a calorie deficit. Controlling the number of calories you’re consuming per day will dictate whether you lose, maintain or gain weight. However, calorie counting is not the best option in regard to overall health and body composition. Enter flexible dieting. Flexible dieting involves tracking macronutrients (instead of calories) and ticks all of the boxes in relation to being unrestrictive, adjustable, flexible (duh) and sustainable. Basically, the aim is to reach certain nutrient targets (e.g. 170g protein, 220g carbs, 60g fat & 35g fibre) on a daily basis and it DOES NOT MATTER what foods you consume, as long as you are hitting those targets.
Essentially, you’re still counting your calories when flexible dieting because:
1g of protein = 4 calories
1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1g of fat = 7 calories
Each of the above macronutrients plays a vital role in the human body, and manipulation of these nutrients will assist in improving your body composition goals (fat to muscle ratio) and performance, rather than just seeing movement on the scales. I’ll mention here that flexible dieting IS NOT for everyone, and that is okay. Whilst from a scientific stance flexible dieting is the most optimal, what is optimal does not always work well in practise. The best option for you is a diet that suits your lifestyle, and that you can stick to for the long-haul.
Owner of Strength Nutrition