With 50,000 results coming from searching for “diet books” on Amazon.com, it is not surprising that so many people are confused about what they should eat to lose weight and be healthy. Many people embark on fad diets not knowing how to know if a diet plan is right for them or not. In this post, I am going to share with you the principles that I believe all good nutrition programs should follow.
Let’s go for it …
1. Good nutrition controls ‘calories in’ versus ‘calories out’
This is not just a dietary rule, but a fundamental law of nature. Known in the world of physics as the First Law of Thermodynamics, it states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred. How does this apply to what you eat? If you eat more calories than you use, you will gain weight. Or if you eat fewer calories than you use, you lose weight. And if you eat as many calories as you burn, you will still be the same weight.
In reality, not all calories are produced equal, and severe calorie-restricted diets can wear down your muscles, which can end up making you regain the weight. However, calories are an important factor and may be the sole determining factor of whether you are losing or gaining weight.
2. Good nutrition improves appearance and health
Not only should you look better with a good nutrition plan, your blood chemistry should improve as well. You should take before and after photos along with measurements to measure your change in appearance, but going to the doctor for a blood test is the way to know if your health is improving. This way you make sure that your nutrition plan is also improving your health and your aesthetics.
3. Good nutrition provides results
“I don’t get it. I eat us, but I’m still gaining weight.” I have news for you: you are not following a proper nutrition plan if you are not losing weight. Maybe your diet is not right for you, maybe your diet is good but you are not following it well, or maybe your diet is not suitable for anyone. The fact is, a good nutrition program is one that works.
4. Good nutrition has flexibility
I call this the 90/10 rule. About 90% of the time I am on a fairly strict diet, but the other 10% I cheat. Never having ice cream, drinking alcohol, or eating pizza is not my idea of a good time. Let’s face it: some of the things that are “bad” for you are pretty tasty too!
I encourage my clients to reward themselves with “cheat” meals each week. Knowing that you will eventually be able to eat something you want will help you stick with your nutrition plan. There is also evidence that cheat meals can help your results through a hormone called leptin.
WARNING! You may need to be very strict for several weeks (or even months) to get started and develop the new behaviors that will set you up for success. Another problem I see is that people think they are cheating 10% of the time when they are actually cheating more. Do not do that! As I mentioned earlier, if you are not getting results, chances are you are not sticking to your program or your program is not good for you. Using a food diary is one way to make sure you know exactly what you are eating. No need to weigh food, just start writing things down.
The Take Away
The big bottom line here is that your nutritional plan should get you results, improve your appearance and health, and allow you some room to have a few treats in the process. If not, something needs to be changed!