We’ve all seen or heard about certain diets, detoxes and training plans that guarantee every participant a certain amount of weight loss in a certain time frame. Almost every month we have a new “Guru” inventing a new nutrition plan or style of training that he/she promises will deliver unrivalled results.
The main problem behind all of this is that different people react differently when following the exact same protocol. There is no “one fits all” approach to health and fitness. However what most of these diets and deluded gurus, personal trainers or prep coaches rely upon is a massively calorie restricted nutrition plan. They then include a certain key food, or ingredient in their meal plans that gets peoples’ attention and attracts interest from those who crave these weight loss results!
This can be anything from a full cheat meal, or bag of sweets to a bowl of chocolate cereal. The negative side to all of this is that this “key ingredient” attracts attention from people that unfortunately do not know enough about their own nutritional needs. They see a plan where they can eat chocolate, or jellies or sugary cereal every day, and they feel they can commit to this and achieve results.
Herein lies the problem. People can commit, and therefore can achieve results…. Weight Loss results. As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, there is a difference between weight loss and body fat loss. These fad diets focus on have extremely low calories, often with 1 cheat allowed post workout. As a result participants are burning huge numbers of calories each day, but only allowed to consume very minimal calories in virtually all their meals, apart from a huge sugar and calorie rush post workout. This starvation process leads to muscle loss, deterioration of the hair, skin and nails. Poor sleep. Mood swings and improper hormonal functions just to name a few of the negative side effects.
The bigger problem is the fact that these diets are not sustainable long term. Yes, people can achieve initial success, but this will happen whether they eat their “magic” post workout treat or not. The body is being forced to survive on a huge calorie deficit and often forced to train, for the first time ever, or train much more intensely than before. The obvious outcome is a significant drop in weight, which the client will associate with eating cheat meals. Unfortunately it is what happens in the long term that is much more detrimental to the body and to the person’s goals.
Due to the fact that initial calories are kept drastically low, thus allowing the inclusion of the cheat meal every day. Once results start to slow down, and come to a complete halt, there is nowhere left to go, no room to manoeuvre. The body will begin to store excess body fat, rather than getting rid of it, which was the original goal. The extreme low calories and intense workouts will have also lead to muscle loss and a decrease in the basal metabolic rate. All in all leaving the person in a far worse position than where they had previously started.
Before you begin any diet or nutrition plan from now on, ask yourself some simple questions:
- Is this plan sustainable year round, year after year?
- Are the foods included, healthy, natural and nutritious?
- Does the food plan make sense to you, and your understanding of healthy eating?
- Can the person providing the food plan, back up the reasoning behind the plan?
If your answer to these questions is “No” then you need to re-assess and chose another route to achieve your health and fitness goals.