Look, I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time. A reallylong time.
I’ve competed, coached, and committed myself to helping people reach their fitness goals. And I’ve learned a TON along the way.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about all else when it comes to nutrition it’s this –– it can be confusing as hell.
Every week there’s a new “best way” coming at you. Low carb, no carb, intermittent fasting, macros, Mediterranean, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Noom –– seriously, I could go on forever.
And each of these programs has their merits, but how can they all be the “right way”?
Well, it might sound too simple, but at the end of the day, the best diet is the one you stick with. It doesn’t matter so much whether you choose to eat Keto, or count macros, or go Whole30 (though you may see better results with one method or another, each body is different) –– what matters is that you find a nutrition program that makes you feel great and that you’re consistent.
Now chances are you’re sitting there saying, “That all sounds great, but I still don’t know how to pick. How do I know which diet is the best?”
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that for you. If you’re looking for some kind of “magic bullet” answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. Nutrition is complex, constantly evolving, and unique to each person. There is no quick fix (and anyone that tries to tell you differently is either clueless or lying).
But here’s what I can do.
I can give you the tools to help you learn to make sense of the complicated and confusing nutrition industry, so you can start to make the right decisions for yourself.
Here’s how to start navigating all the information (and misinformation) the nutrition industry throws your way, so you can find the best path to reach your goals.
Outline your goals.
The right nutritional program can look very different from one goal to the next –– that’s why it’s so important to really understand what you’re trying to achieve.
A successful diet for building muscle likely won’t help you burn fat (sorry folks, but you can’t have it both ways at the same time). Fasting may not be the best choice if you’re taking medication or pregnant. And training for a marathon requires a very different food plan than a 5K.
Without a clearly defined “why”, you’re going to have trouble choosing the best eating plan to meet your specific needs.
Do the research on restrictive diets.
Restrictive diets aren’t bad, in fact, they may be necessary to reach your goals. But any diet program that asks you to restrict food needs some extra consideration on your part.
Before you dive right in, find out everything you can about what’s involved. What exactly is off limits? How long will you be restricting food? And if possible, talk to someone who has experience with the diet (either successfully or not).
Remember, the more restrictive a diet is, the more likely you are to struggle maintaining it, long-term. When you really understand what’s involved before you start, you’ll have a better idea of whether it’s the best choice for you.
Start by spending money on the food, not the “diet”.
Costly programs and apps might promise you the world, but they can be a huge drain on your wallet.
So, instead of shelling out a ton of cash for someone to tell you how to eat, why not start by changing the basics of what you eat?
Try swapping out processed foods for whole foods. Commit to skipping the drive-thru and eating at home. Treat yourself to fruits or yogurt after dinner instead of indulgent desserts.
Start by getting yourself in the habit of making healthier choices and go from there. If you feel like you need more direction after you’ve made adjustments, by all means, make the investment in a program or plan. Because you’ve started to understand what works for you, you’ll be better equipped to find a program with the right fit.
One of the biggest reasons I see for people failing on a nutrition program is that they try to change everything all at once.
So where is a great place to start?
I always suggest cutting back on your sugar intake, first. (And while you’re at it, make sure to learn all the names for sugar –– it can sneak into places you’d never imagine.) It has the potential to yield some big results, which can help you stay motivated, and is often easier to eliminate at the beginning, when you're excited about making changes.
After you have the sugar in check, add another component like upping your protein and continue to build from there. Over time, you’ll learn to listen to your body, make tweaks as necessary, and help to create a plan built for lasting change.
Beware of testimonials.
Asking a friend for an honest opinion of a nutrition program is one thing, scouring social media for diet results is something else.
It’s important to remember that every body is different and each person is going to see different results, even when following the same plan. Not only that, but there’s no guarantee that the results you find splashed all over the internet are genuine. Posing, lighting, and photoshop are easy tricks that can be used to mislead your expectations.
Instead of choosing a diet for the results, look at the specific components. Does it fit your lifestyle? Is it overly restrictive? Does it seem like something you can manage long-term? Remember, it doesn’t matter what type of results a program promises if you can’t stick with it long enough to get there!
Get comfortable with waiting.
There’s a reason people say waiting is the hardest part. Change takes time, and nutritional results are no exception.
Sure, you may see some quick results if you’re making huge changes, but it won’t last forever –– eventually those changes are going to slow down. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t working.
The key is to keep reminding yourself to stick with the plan, even when things slow down. As a general rule, I tell people to give it a month before you decide your program isn’t working. After that, make some adjustments if you need to, but you might just surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.
Remember, slow and steady always wins the diet race. Set a good pace, stay consistent, and you’ll be on the road to making good –– and lasting –– diet decisions in no time.
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