Many of us have made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and finally get into shape.
However, many of us just don’t know what to do. We know we should exercise more, eat less (or at least “healthier”), but that still leaves so many questions that are not addressed.
What foods are healthy?
Which foods will help me build muscle?
Which foods should I avoid?
The next step is to go to google for the answer. What you will find are many fad diets that promise you will shed body fat and get that ripped, sexy look you have always dreamed of.
Diets such as Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, and Flexible Dieting are many of the common ones.
The health and fitness industry can be confusing because many see their way of doing things as the end all, be all way of doing it. As if it was a religion.
To help shed some light on the situation, I am going to tell you why every single one of these diets works. Yes, they all do. They all follow one basic principle that must be followed. That my friends is Energy Balance.
Simply put, Energy Balance is the relationship between the amount of energy we burn and the amount of energy we eat in a single day. Energy, in this case, are calories. Below is a diagram that explains this concept.
We obtain calories from the food we eat. It’s that simple.
There are three ways we burn calories:
- Basal Metabolic Rate: The amount of energy you burn while at rest that keeps you alive.
- Thermic Effect of Food: The energy required to digest and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.
- Energy Expended from simply moving/physical activity: Any movement. From running 10 miles to fidgeting in your office chair, you are burning a certain number of calories.
Therefore, the relationship between calories in, vs calories out, ultimately determines your energy balance.
- If you consume more food calories than you burn, you will gain weight (Calorie Surplus).
- If you consume fewer food calories than you burn, you will lose weight (Calorie Deficit).
- If the balance is equal, your weight will remain neutral (Maintenance Calories).
This then begs the question: which diet should I choose?
This point needs to be clear. The diet you choose should be one you can adhere to. Choose one that makes you happy with the food options you have.
Because let’s face it. We have all lost weight, but how many of us have kept the weight off? All diets work, but whether or not you are able to keep the weight off after the diet is over is the problem. You should choose foods that fit well with your habits and likings. Ultimately, losing weight and fitness should become a healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix.
One final point that I want to address, is that a diet can consist of virtually any food and you will lose weight…as long as the diet puts you in a calorie deficit. Practical example: 100 calories of a snicker bar is no different than 100 calories of broccoli. There are obviously different nutrient contents in each, which may hold value depending on each individual circumstance, but 100 calories is 100 calories. I invite you to read this article about Dr. Mark Haub who proved this point with his own “convenient store diet.”
Those are a few of the basics that everyone should know about dieting. So as you set out in 2019, keep these tips in mind when deciding what kind of diet regimen you want to follow. Good luck, and may you accomplish all your health and fitness goals.
If you have specific questions, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Gray, NASM-CPT