You and I have something in common
It is engrained deep within our DNA
It drives us to do things that we KNOW are not good for our bodies or our health
It is like a hungry, starving, ravenous monster that dwells deep in our inner most being
I am talking about the natural, instinctive and pleasurable desire to indulge.
Given the opportunity we all do it and since this is the case why are so many of the diets out there not taking this basic instinct into account?
It’s like telling a sex addict to never have sex. Or preaching a gospel that says the only way to heaven is through “good works” and all “sinners” are headed to the eternal flaming penalty box.
If this is the case then we are all doomed to the cheap seats and cheering a team that never takes home the cup.
With the Holiday festivities gearing up your ability to control your calorie intake will likely do down as your primal instincts kick into overdrive at the first glimpse of those tasty festive treats.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or “Festivus” indulging in these culinary delights is not only normal- it may be beneficial.
I am not saying that going hog wild at the bon-bon buffet is good for you- I am simply suggesting that human being are programmed to indulge and this must be taken into consideration when approaching your Holiday nutrition strategy.
With this in mind here are three possible choices-
1. You can begin to count all of the calories you consume by way of foods and beverages. This will require rigorous attention to details BUT will also allow for more flexibility in your food choices. Weight watchers program is a good example of this. Millions of people have succeeded with this approach to losing weight thus proving its efficacy for a certain percentage of the population. If the plan didn’t work at all then it would not still exist in the market place. Most commercial diets and food delivery programs fall into this category as well. The reason these programs work for weight loss is due to calorie control plain and simple. However while these programs excel at weight loss they are not the best approach for fat loss and optimal body composition. They also restrict you to having just a “taste” of your favorite treats and this may leave you feeling less than satisfied.
2. The second option is more intuitive and incorporates portion control and exercise. This approach differs from the first because it begins to take into account the different sources of calories and not just the number of calories themselves. Calories from protein, and healthy fats have more positive benefit to your bodies hormonal systems compared to the same number of calories from wheat, dairy and sugar. This approach also acknowledges the importance of exercise and its effect of building muscle and burning fat. This is similar to the very popular “Body for Life” program popularized by Bill Phillips many years back. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoyed tremendous success on this program thus proving its efficacy as well. In this program you are allowed a bigger piece of the treat pie and recommends having an entire cheat day once per week.
3. The third option is based on nutrient timing and the “cycling” of carbohydrates. This approach is all about the details and may be the most effective method to stripping away stubborn pounds of fat while maintaining (or increasing) lean muscle mass. Like the other two approaches you still have to acknowledge the fact that calorie balance reigns supreme. If you eat too much you won’t lose diddly squat no matter how perfectly you time your carbs to coincide with your post workout increase in glucose utilization. Many people complain that this approach is too difficult and requires too much attention to detail. Seriously? Is it really so difficult to eat protein, veggies and healthy fats and save your starch based carbs like potatoes and rice for the meal following your workout? If so then I suggest following plans number 1 or 2 above but don’t be surprised when you find it even more difficult to comply with. With this approach you are also allowed a “cheat” but it is in the form of a time period (3 hours or so) once or twice per week. The switch from a cheat “day” to a cheat “period” is better for many people as it allows for more flexibility and doesn’t turn the idea of indulging into a sport where you try to cram as much junk into your gut for an entire day. For some people this can cause more problems than it solves.
The main point is this- the basic rules of a healthy fat loss program will always remain the same;
A calorie deficit is the single most important factor for fat loss to occur
Weight training is critical to minimize muscle loss while in this state
Nutrient dense foods are preferential over refined, man-made foods due to their greater nutrient density and increased satiety
You should avoid any foods that increase inflammation or cause an allergic response (I am talking to you wheat, dairy, and refined sugar)
Healthy fats, proteins and fibrous carbs (vegetables) should make up the majority of your nutrition program
Life is too short to never eat your favorite foods- you just need to plan for it and do so intelligently
Finally and perhaps most important of all- the best program for you is the one that you will follow consistently while achieving a result that is acceptable to you. You need to find an approach that works for your body and lifestyle and stick to it. No single program will work for every person and the only thing that matters is results. If intermittent fasting works for you then do it. If eating 5 or 6 small meals per day is more your thing then more power to you. And most importantly- if your current approach isn’t producing the results you desire then it is time to change something. Don’t remain married to a methodology just because it works for some people- what matters most is what works for you.