By Amy Needham
Is it Keto? Is it Paleo? Is it Intermittent Fasting? How about intuitive eating? Perhaps Carnivore?
It’s actually both none and also any of the above.
The diet you should be on is the one that you can stick to! Not just for a few weeks, months or a year, but for a lifetime. The food you consume whilst in caloric deficit should include foods that nourish your body and are high in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which you actually enjoy eating.
You should also include foods that bring about nostalgia. Perhaps this feeling of contentment spurs from your childhood? For example, my nostalgia foods include burgers, biscuits, popcorn, a ‘big brekky’ with poached eggs on toast, corn fritters & extra avocado (because I’m worth it).
Now I know what you’re thinking – these are all calorically dense foods, and yes you’re right. They are highly palatable, calorically dense and somewhat low in micronutrients. This is where the 80/20 rule comes in. Within this 20%, I recommended keeping the free sugars you consume to below 5-10% of total calories. Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. This is because it fits in with the World Health Organisations’ free sugar intake recommendations¹.
When dieting on lower food intake, it’s important to optimise cell health (aka health) by including an abundance of vitamins & minerals from whole foods. Not to mention – I actually enjoy eating ‘health’ foods as they make me feel better and train stronger! Keep this in mind when choosing your food sources, aim to eat foods that fuel performance in your sessions and maximise recovery.
The hack to including these ‘fun foods’ within a nutrient-dense diet is to control the serving size or make ingredient alterations to suit, for example, a “fun size” chocolate or popcorn pack to consume daily. Try swapping regular pasta for a mix of Black Bean Slendier noodles, zucchini & rice noodles to create volume & fullness.
A great tip is to backload calories so that you can look forward to a big dinner meal with family & friends, particularly if you like ‘bigger’ meals. What I mean by backloading calories is that a significant amount of your daily caloric intake is portioned to be consumed in the PM or at dinner, 2hrs before bed to increase meal size without upsetting digestion or going to bed on an overly full stomach which has the potential to disrupt sleep quality.
Personally, I limit my burger intake & big brekky to once a week as a special treat. In this way I backload a portion of my calories for the week to the weekend to allow for a large juicy, delicious burger from Grill’d (Yes, I’ll take a sponsorship) and a Big Breakfast on a Sunday after a coastal walk to clear my mind.
Our body works on a larger scale than just daily caloric intake. What matters is the weekly average especially if completing skinfolds or photos weekly/ fortnightly. I find this form of caloric backloading works just as well for my clients just as it does for me.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is that people remain in a caloric deficit for far too long and run the risk of metabolic adaptation. They then wonder why they are not getting results from their 1200 – 1400 calorie intake. If it’s not Metabolic adaptation it generally amounts to an inability to be compliant or adherent to their nutritional protocol. This is the best way to ensure a low level of self-esteem. Setting a target we cannot meet. Just because it wasn’t a meal doesn’t mean those lick, spoon, snack or taste calories don’t count…
Metabolic Adaptation can be described as: A self-defence system – the biological adaptation to energy restrictions (dieting) that results in slowing Metabolic Rate to a greater extent than is predicted based on pure physics and math alone².
We regularly want to come back to our baseline to help omit the negative adaptations that can occur from dieting. This ensures the greatest results possible with the greatest longevity. The best way to approach this is under the guidance of a quality coach who can assess & readjust caloric intake and/or macros to suit your biofeedback markers & results.
Utilising Diet breaks and also daily and/or weekly caloric backloading can assist longevity in a fat loss phase through offsetting metabolic adaptation or decreasing the impact of negative adaptations common to dieting, as well as improving compliance to set calories knowing we have something to look forward to daily/weekly. These are the silver linings to the delayed gratification.
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Clean Health Fitness Institute