Ever notice how there are so many contradictory opinions in the fitness industry? How every "fit pro" has the secret formula with tons of progress pics and evidence to validate their claims?
It's because every diet can work! Hell, a guy lost weight eating only Twinkies for a month! (He felt like hell in the process though).
In the end your diet comes down to eating the right amount of calories to accommodate your goal… if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less than your body needs so that it takes energy from storage (hopefully fat). If you want to gain weight, you need to eat more than your body need so that it can store the surplus (hopefully as muscle). Weight training helps ensure the tissue being used for weight loss is fat and the weight you up on is muscle.
Doesn't what you eat matter? Sure, a little. But it should never be your highest priority. Same with how many meals or when you eat… those things can make a small impact but not enough for most people to stress about.
So how, exactly, do you set up a diet that works? Here are the steps and rules I follow:
- Download a calorie tracking app and track everything you eat for a week (I use myfitnesspal, but there are a lot to choose from). After you track for a week figure out your average intake and adjust to fit your goal… if you want to lose weight, try setting your new calorie intake goal for 300 calories lower (if you want to gain try 300 higher). Continue to track your intake until you've reached your goal.
- Adjust your macronutrients. For macro breakdown I usually aim for more protein than anything else, especially when trying to lose weight (this is because your body is not as efficient with protein as it is with fats and carbs so it helps you lose weight more quickly). I'd try 40% protein, 30% carbs, 30% fats… then adjust to your preference.
- Monitor and adjust based on your new metrics. Now you will have exact metrics to attached to your progress… if your weight is not moving like you want you can look at the numbers and adjust. Without the metrics any adjustment is a guess. Simple
Now the rules.
- Your first rule is to hit your calorie goal. This is by far the top priority, if you screw up the goals below it but hit this one you are fine. Never sacrifice the overall calorie goal to hit one of the others. ALSO, if you go over (or under) on a day you CAN make up the difference on the next day… our bodies aren't so structured that they reset all of the processes at midnight like some sort of flesh-computer.
- Rule 2, hit your macros… not nearly as important as rule 1, but try to get as close to your protein, carb, fat numbers as possible. Never sacrifice overall calories to hit a macro number (if you hit your calories for the day but still need 50g of protein just let it go.. Try to get closer tomorrow).
- Rule 3 food quality. You would think this is important, and it is for overall health, but when it comes to weight loss it doesn't make too much of an impact. You should try to eat vegetables as often as possible, if for no other reason thy tend to be lower in calories so you can eat a lot of volume and it will fill you up.
- Meal timing. This can help but really isn't worth worrying about unless you're trying to get on stage for a bodybuilding competition… in that case you probably have a coach and shouldn't have much need for this article.
- Supplements. The right supplements can certainly help but if you don't have the rest of your diet in check you are probably going to be spinning your wheels! Follow the other rules, then get your supps in and you'll be golden. (and sure, watch out for what I have coming… because it's gonna be awesome!)
Those are the rules… that's how you get complete control over your weight! Remember, dieting is a skill… you get better at it the more you do it! Failure will happen, learn from it and move on.
Got any questions? Need any help? Let me know: info@1MOfficial.com
About the author: Mason Zuleger is a Certified personal trainer, bodybuilding and fitness enthusiast who has spent over 15 years cutting through the junk and sharing the real, most valuable, info with the world. He has spent time as a writer for Lifehack.org.