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My Intentions

Lets get real about the industry

The Health and Fitness industry is in a shambles.

I am going to be sharing my honest and educated views and insights with you. For the better part of 5 years now, I have been educating myself as much as possible in the realm of health, nutrition, training and the self-proclaimed fitness industry as a whole. I have done the personal training diploma, worked with many people and trainers in the industry to pick up on not only my own, but other trainers pitfalls, I have got a bachelors in food and nutrition, read countless research papers, developed countless programs, worked with many individuals and even gone undercover to personal trainers, yet I still have so so much to learn! But hey, what is the point if I don’t share it with whoever will listen right? I want to help. I want to make a difference. I am sick and tired of seeing people waste their money and ruin their physical and mental wellbeing when trying to achieve the exact opposite! I am going to put out content that I believe will leave a positive impact on an industry and help loads of individuals and health and fitness professionals increase their knowledge, awareness and wellbeing. Whether I reach 10 people or a million people does not matter, because I’ll know that 10 people are now better off!

You can suffer in silence, or you can start following me to see what content I am going to be putting out!

 

KNOW YOUR CARBS; AND EAT THEM TOO – A BRIEF LESSON ON CARBOHYDRATES.

Carbohydrates

The most evil nutrient of them all. Well the least we can do is feel sorry for the people who believe what I just said to be true. In my opinion carbs are the most important macronutrient from an emotional wellbeing standpoint. I really don’t know how carbs have taken all the slack out of the three macronutrients. Is it because “they make people fat?” Is it because “they cause diabetes?” or is it because you envy people who enjoy carbs and don’t get fat? It could be all of the above, definitely the latter, but as you may think otherwise it is most definitely not the first two, but society will want you to think that it is. You give yourself diabetes, you make yourself fat. Don’t blame a nutrient for your lack of self-control and poor decision making. Yes in the rare genetic cases such as leptin deficiency you may be hyper sensitive to carbs. But even then, it’s not the carbs to blame, it’s the lack of leptin flowing through your bloodstream.

Now bear with me for a few moments as you may find them a tad boring, but I feel it is imperative that you understand at least the bear minimum about what carbs actually are. Because in all honesty, majority of the gurus out there cannot differentiate between a monosaccharide and polysaccharide. I know right, pathetic.

So let’s break it down for you so you can begin to understand how carbohydrates actually work. The dietary carbohydrate family includes the following saccharides; Monosaccharides which are as you may have guessed, single sugars. Disaccharides, well done, these are sugars composed of pairs of monosaccharides. And then there are polysaccharides, these are large molecules composed of large chains of thousands and thousands of monosaccharides.

The monosaccharides consist of Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose, and are all extremely important in nutrition and vary in palate sweetness. Fructose is the sweetest of the lot and is actually what makes honey naturally so sweet.

GLUCOSE is probably the most tremendously important of all the saccharides. I’m going to assume that you have heard the term “blood sugar”? Well blood sugar is glucose. And glucose is the body’s main and preferred source of energy especially when it comes to training efficiency and performance. It is also the brains primary energy source, before you shut me down, yes the brain can use fats out of desperation as a last resort, however there are certain parts of the brain that rely solely on glucose and cannot function off anything else.

FRUCTOSE as mentioned is the sweetest of all the sugars and occurs naturally in fruits and honey. It is also used to sweeten the wide array of processed foods and drinks that are available to us. Although it is a single sugar, it is digested through facilitated diffusion giving it a lower glycemic load, however over consumption can result in insulin sensitivity, but over consumption compounded over many years of poor decision making that is.

GALACTOSE is only present in very few foods but is an important factor in the formation of the disaccharide lactose otherwise known as milk sugar.

The disaccharides are pairs of the three monosaccharides mentioned above. Now remember how important glucose is? Well one of the reasons is that it occurs as one of the monosaccharides in all three of the disaccharides.

The three Disaccharides are Maltose, Sucrose, and finally the most commonly known one, Lactose. Maltose, most notably present in barley consists of two glucose units and is produced whenever starch is broken down during human digestion.

Sucrose consists of a glucose and a fructose unit and Lactose is the combination of glucose and galactose and is often referred to as milk sugar.

Now for the “good’ carbs, the Polysaccharides. Glycogen and Starches. These carbohydrates are made up of many glucose units unlike the other saccharides that are composed of only one or two and are digested and absorbed easily. Glycogen is not necessarily a compound found in foods, as a matter of fact it is not present in food at all, besides a tiny amount in meat. Glycogen rather works as a storage unit for glucose molecules. Glycogen is only found in two places in the human body, the liver and muscle cells, and is made up of many glucose molecules linked together in highly branched chains. When energy release hormones arrive at glycogen storage sites, they rapidly attack the glycogen chains making a surge of glucose available to be used up to perform your specific activity and keep you energized throughout the day.

Starches are different. They are what glycogen is to the human body but for plants, a storage unit for glucose molecules. Hundreds of thousands of linked glucose molecules form the starches in many of grains and root vegetables that we consume and usually provide large amounts of fiber to our diets. These highly condensed large starch molecules are extremely tightly packed together within the starch containing foods that we consume and are a source of sustainable energy.

This information is utterly pointless if you don’t have a basic understanding of how the molecules are absorbed by the body. Now just because they are from the same family does not mean that they are all used in the same way. Absorption of glucose actually starts in the lining of the mouth but for the most part absorption takes place in the small intestine. Glucose and galactose pass through the cells of the small intestine through active transport meaning that it can enter the bloodstream rapidly. Whereas fructose is absorbed through facilitated diffusion, meaning that it needs a carrier molecule to help it pass through the cells of the small intestine making its entry into the bloodstream much slower. And as mentioned previously, fructose is the main sugar in fruits, so anyone that tells you to cut out fruit because it is full of sugar is 100% correct. But they lack the knowledge to know how fructose is absorbed in the body. Besides the fact that fruit has amazing benefits. Once the molecules have been absorbed they travel via the portal to the liver, where fructose and galactose are metabolized and glucose is stored or sent into the bloodstreams for use by many of the cells in the body.

In total, the liver stores around 1 third of the body’s total glycogen and facilitates the release of glucose into the blood stream as needed. Now yes, the muscles store the other 2 thirds of glycogen in the body, but they are hoarders of glycogen. They do not hydrolyze it and release it for other functions in the body, they use it solely for their own activity such as exercise. The brain also has the ability to store small amounts of glycogen in the case of severe glucose deprivation such as low carb diets. Glycogen stores in the body can only provide energy for relatively short periods of time, about a day at rest and up to only a few hours during activity. Therefore it is imperative to keep the body fueled with a combination of different carbohydrate sources to ensure that your body is able to function at maximum capacity.

Understanding why YOU eat what you do is the key to unlocking your long lasting fat loss and muscle building potential!

So, first off. If you can understand why you make the food choices that you do, it will help you make more informed decisions and may get you out of any negative food habits and accelerate your fat loss or muscle building progress!

The decision of what to eat, when to eat and even weather to eat at all is based on behavioral or societal motives rather than on an awareness of nutrition’s importance to overall health and enjoyment. Below I will break down some of these factors.

PERSONAL PREFERENCE

The first variable when it comes to our food choices is Personal Preference. As you may have guessed, Taste is the number one reason why people choose to eat the things that they do. Sweetness and saltiness are the 2 most common preferences when it comes to food choices. Enjoying high fat foods is also a common preference as fats enhance the flavor and mouthfeel of the foods we eat. Genetics plays a role in determining your taste preferences as well. But you really have to take a step back, and think about why you enjoy your favorite foods and balance out the sweet from the salty to figure out what your main preference is. Figure out your preference, and you will not only be making more informed decisions, but you will be choosing foods that you know you will enjoy as they are in line with your individual preferences. This will severely reduce cravings and binges.

HABITS

The habits that we form over the period of our lives heavily determine the food choices that we make. Habits form comfort zones, and comfort zones are, well, comfortable and easy. Just because you grew up eating cereal for breakfast doesn’t mean that cereal is the be all and end all of breakfast food. And god forbid your favorite cereal is finished, now your day is ruined. In my opinion, when it comes to food choices, there should be no habits. Obviously there will be boundaries such as religion, allergies, preferences etc. however, you should avoid developing habits within your boundaries. When you develop strong habits, it closes your mind to the endless possibilities when it comes to food. And now more than ever, healthy food variety is so accessible.

ETHNIC HERITAGE

Ethnic heritage and traditions are strong influencers. One of the strongest in fact. They cause us to enjoy certain foods and avoid others, whether it’s due to kosher reasons or the favorability of traditional flavors…. That again is up to you to conclude. Studies have definitely indicated that certain cultures and religions produce healthier individuals than others. Look at Asian countries for example, where the diet is predominantly based around lean proteins and vegetables, and compare it to a western diet full of processed products. People live longer in the east yet it is more rural than the west. Ethnic heritage can provide clarity on why you may prefer certain food sources or flavors.

SOCIAL PRESSURES

Socializing. The most feared word when on a so called “diet”. You don’t want to venture out because you may break your diet or feel embarrassed when you choose the salad, or even worse, don’t eat at all. This is no way to live, and socializing and food go hand in hand. How often do you eat a meal alone? Im guessing that majority of the time you are with at least one other person. Now socializing is awesome especially when food is involved, we all get that giddy feeling when we are about to eat something delicious or eat something without feeling guilty afterwards. You should never let your current eating habits affect your social poise. Restricting social occasions is a huge factor that leads to failure. How can you live never eating away from home again? Most restaurants have easy to identify options that are lower in calories and full of nutrients. Pick these items and you will always be okay.

A.C.E

Now a big one is the ACE. Availability, Convenience, and Economy. We all prefer foods that are conveniently available and aT good price. And now days we can almost all of the time tick all three of the boxes. The options are literally endless but here is where the problem lies. Most of the foods that fall under this category are not nutrient dense at all, or dense in nutrients that are not so beneficial. A banana or a small candy bar, both accessible, convenient and cheap, well the banana is a lot cheaper actually, but the point here is that although they may even have the exact same calories, the banana is full of amazing nutrients. Now I’m not by any means saying that you have to choose the “banana” every time. But doing so more often than not, over time will have dramatically positive effects.

NEGATIVE ASSOCIATIONS

A subconscious preference determining factor is our positive and negative associations with specific foods that have developed over time. We make many food choices often without really taking a moment to step back and look into why we make such decisions. The foods we thoroughly enjoy are often foods that we can associate with happy moments such as the meal you took your family out for when you finally got that promotion or made that handshake, and the same goes for a lot of the foods that we dislike. The food made us ill, or we had a fallout with someone over a specific meal. It may sound silly now but try and reflect back and you will find these types of associations popping up.

EMOTIONS

Food influences the brains chemistry and the minds response to specific emotions. Im sure you’ve heard the term “emotional eater” before. To an extent we are all emotional eaters. Ill eat this because I know it is healthy and it then triggers positive emotions of dedication and health, or we may even enjoy a slice of cake but feel guilty afterwards, theoretically every single thing we eat will trigger an emotion of some sort. Now some may eat out of boredom or depression to have something to do or to relieve anxiety. You may choose to unwind with your favorite snack to relieve stress. Often eating associated with emotions can lead to overeating or undereating and you should be consciously aware of any emotionally driven eating habits. The key is to identify these foods and include them without being emotionally driven. This will promote moderation and over time decrease any over or undereating spells.

IMAGE

Now in my opinion one of the biggest epidemics facing modern society to date. Body weight and Image. Almost every person on this planet eats food for a specific reason, but the most prevalent is health and appearance. People will choose foods based on facts that they believe will promote good health and physical appearance, and will avoid foods that don’t. Now this is great, but only if it is based on sound nutritional knowledge. And I’m happy to tell you that most of the “Facts” out there are complete BS. Please don’t just listen to anyone with a good body or seemingly healthy lifestyle because they preach this and that. Always, always do your research, and not on google, on google scholar, you need to see real facts, not the little things people pick and choose to tell you about the latest trend in the industry. I will give you this, and it may be the most valuable thing you learn today. If anyone ever tells you that you should use x product or eliminate x from your diet and include this or that, without scientifically and statistically backing it up… don’t listen to a word they say, they want your money or to sound knowledgeable that is it. You are putting your own body at risk by blindly following what he or she thinks is best.

Hopefully now you can have a better understanding of why you choose to eat the foods that you enjoy and not just choose foods based on subconscious behavior or because your trainer said it will guarantee 4 kilos of weight loss per week.

 

 

 

 

5 THINGS LEAN PEOPLE ARE DOING; THAT YOU ARE NOT DOING….

We are Patient

We understand that results won’t last unless we are thinking long term. You can achieve a great body in 12 weeks, but good luck sustaining it for longer than 2 weeks! Patience is the key to long term success. Stop messing around and doing a crash course diet 2 to 3 months before the holiday season. If you would have started planning at the beginning of the year, and gone about it gradually, you would have achieved a much better body, and the best part… you wouldn’t have lost it during the holidays. So be patient. This industry thrives off impatience.

We are Knowledgeable

What do you learn following an 8 or 12 week challenge besides on how to become a miserable person? Most probably not much. I know because I have done them. Anyone can follow a meal plan and training program. But what happens when it’s over, what do you do? Oh wait, of course, you have a hall pass to eat whatever you want. You have been so dedicated. I’ll just sit here and watch you de rail, I’m here to put the pieces back together. We stay lean because we take the time to educate ourselves and learn what works best for us and why. You have to understand yourself first. How do you like to train, what do you like to eat, and figure out what works and know exactly why. Knowledge is power. And knowledge is what will allow you to control over your body!

We have Balance

This is a huge reason most people fluctuate. I am not referring to balance with your social life etc. that’s next. I am referring to the balance between training and nutrition, and training selection. Training 6 days a week for 2 hours and cutting your calories severely is not optimal. Remember, often times, less is more. You have to find the balance that works for YOU. If you cant go a day without training that is fine! But make sure you are backing it up with the correct nutrition. Sometimes eating more is better to get lean than going into a big deficit. Your training frequency and style will determine your food consumption. Now don’t let this shock you. But cardio will not get you lean, especially if that is your preferred choice of activity. It is great for cardiovascular health, but if your aim is to get lean and stay lean, nothing is better than good old free weight resistance training coupled with a minimal amount of cardio. Lean people have a great balance of training frequency, training type and nutritional structure. How do you expect to maintain your transformation body if you go from training 6 days a week, eating clean all day, to drinking, most probably not training and having 4 hours of sleep? You tell me what is going to happen. Where is the balance?

We are Flexible

This is the major reason why we can stay lean and get leaner year after year. We are not all or nothing. How can you maintain early morning cardio, low carbs, fish and vegetables or whatever crazy things you are up to for the next 5 years? Dumb question. Because we both know that you can’t. There are very few people, even top fitness athletes that stay lean 365. Most look good on show day and that’s a wrap until the next. Why? Because they can’t maintain the training and diet for more than 12 to 16 weeks. Neither would I. be flexible and sensible in your approach. It will serve you best in the long run. I’ve had people who could not hold off the weight gain during holiday season. 5 to 10kgs easily. Those same people, now either maintain their physique or come back having lost a kilo or 2! Flexible, sensible and knowledgeable. You have to allow for flexibility. However, being to flexible won’t help your cause either. Knowledge comes in here again. Understanding how to be flexible in your approach is extremely important to staying lean, and again everyone is different.

We are Consistent

This is vital. We stay lean because we are consistent, realistic, and level headed. You have to be open to life. Unless your entire social group are on a 12 week shred plan or whatever you want to call it, you will either become “that” guy/girl or you will be pretty lonely, but if you cool with that then I won’t question it! Do you seriously think it is realistic to never eat out, have a drink or have a chocolate or ice cream for next 2 to 5 years? If you are not able to wrap your head around the fact that you won’t get fat from eating out, having a drink or having a treat every now and then, well then I’m afraid to tell you, but you have an eating disorder. How can you be consistent training everyday only eating greens, protein, supplements and the occasional grain or starch? There are so many amazing healthy foods out there and even the “bad” ones have their place if you weren’t so extreme in your approach. You can only stay 100% consistent if you exercise all of the above. YOU have to be realistic. YOU have to be knowledgeable. YOU have to have balance. And YOU have to be flexible. This will lead to consistency and long term sustainability!

 

Don’t wait until your metabolism is wrecked and it is too late. Start doing things the right way from tomorrow. Stop trying to take short cuts to multiple finish lines because we only have one finish line!

FEMALE FAT LOSS; Why is it harder to lose fat and keep it off?

 

WOW, Female fat loss. Such a hot topic. Everyone has their opinions. But when it comes to fat loss, females are a lot more complex.

So ladies, you may not want to hear this, but unfortunately you guys have it a lot harder when it comes to fat loss. In a sense, the vast majority of males have it pretty good when it comes to fat loss, a few tweaks here and there, and they are on the road to looking like Hercules. Unfortunately it is a lot more complicated for all of you females out there. You can be one hard safe to crack, especially if you have a history of restrictive eating habits!

Having worked with and spoken to many females, from all different backgrounds, on the ever so popular topic of fat loss, I often find similar issues arising over and over again. Most of these issues stem from social media and societal influences of the ideal. This intern leads most females down a dark road of inner conflicts and unhappiness, even if they look amazing! Females are fragile when it comes to image, and are often very hard on themselves, so hopefully this post can help you unlock your fat burning potential and set you free! Below are the main areas that I find to have the biggest influence on fat loss, that often seem to be over looked.

Low self Esteem

The first thing I notice when talking to females about fat loss – even though they don’t see it – is that they often put themselves down and are constantly comparing themselves to other females – but she hardly trains, and she’s always out, look at her stomach, how come I don’t have legs like her – My answer? Who gives a shit! YOU are YOU, and if you don’t accept that first, no matter how amazing you look, you’ll never have the confidence to show it. Accepting yourself is the first step to achieving healthy and long lasting fat loss. If not, you are in for a bumpy ride. Low self-esteem will make achieving any goal extremely difficult! So step number one, self-acceptance!

Too restricted

Now this point is not entirely your fault, unfortunately shitty coaches and lazy dieticians cause a lot of pain for you in this area. However, plenty of individual females take it upon themselves to go on a diet based on what they have read or heard, and it often ends pretty dismally for them. It seems like females put less effort into researching what they hear from others, with the hopes of finding the golden nugget. This, unfortunately, ends up with diets that are just simply way to restrictive or unhealthy, and this causes restrictions on quality of life, health and long term fat loss. The root cause however, is often the “professionals” giving the diets? They  purely want fast results, to make their business look good, and heck, you may look good, who wouldn’t not eating anything but eggs and tuna for 8 weeks, but don’t tell me you are happy, and show me your 2 week post diet pic? How can you live on egg whites and tuna salads for your whole life? It’s like building a house with only 5 different building materials. You going to land up with a pretty shit house, and chances are it won’t last long either. Second step, variety and knowledge is key!

 Developing food fears

Again not entirely your fault. There is so much misinformation out there when it comes to specific foods and food groups that either claim to make you fat or help you lose fat. The problem is, that even the good information out there is often too complicated. So I am going to simplify this for you. NO foods make you fat, and NO foods make you lose fat! Certain foods in certain amounts, yes, can definitely cause fat gain, and certain foods can assist with fat loss, but there is no magic bullet. Want to know what is though? How YOUR BODY works! Once that is solved, you are golden! And that is my job as a metabolic therapist. To figure out how your body works, to crack your code, and help you achieve your goals in the best possible way for you! You are unique, so how do you expect you and your friend to both benefit from the same program? Don’t follow the crowd. Do you. But don’t become fearful of food because coach said that you can only have fish. What is wrong with chicken? What is wrong with beans? Lentils? Lean meat? The list goes on! There are so many delicious foods out there. The moment you segregate, the more fearful you become. Step three, start to accept that overindulgence can make you fat, not certain foods. Explore all of the amazing healthy – most of the time – and the not so healthy. KNOWLEDGE AND MINDFULNESS = POWER.

 Training

This is one of the biggest mistakes females make when attempting to lose fat! They get their training approach completely backwards. Often what happens, you heavily restrict your diet, and jump on the cardio machines for 2 hours a day every single frikken day! If I can promise you one thing, it is that you will not reach or maintain your goal doing that! The best approach is placing your focus on resistance training and doing a little less cardio. Heck you want to look good don’t you? Who cares if the scale goes down but you look skinny fat. No one sees the numbers. Keep them to yourself. Frankly I could care less what you weigh. It’s how you look and feel that counts! I know girls who are identical heights, one will weigh 50kgs the other 56kg, who do you think looks better? well If you don’t know you probably weigh 50. Resistance training in its many forms – not just weights – increases your muscle tissue, which intern increase your metabolic health, therefore making fat loss easier and sustainable. Plus you’ll look and feel a whole lot better!

Hormones

Now this is where things can get tricky and the reason why a lot of females struggle with fat loss, and it is completely overlooked. Now it is obvious to us that that the genetic makeup of females is completely different to that of their male counterparts, it doesn’t take a genius to know that, but why are they treated the same when it comes to fat loss? The female hormones, estrogen and progesterone play a huge role in not only total body fat, but in fat distribution as well. Women tent to store their fat around their waistline, hips and upper legs. These are the key areas where stubborn fat stores are located in both men and women! So knowing the individual, and how their body composition changes during their menstrual cycle can give you some indicators of their estrogen levels. The reason I bring this up is because, the lower the estrogen, the more body fat is stored and the harder it is to burn it! Physiologically women store more fat in the case that they may fall pregnant, the body wants to ensure that the fetus can have an adequate energy supply in times of food deprivation from the mother. Also, the only other source of estrogen in the body is adipose tissue (fat cells), therefore, your body will want to store and hold onto more fat in order to regulate your estrogen levels. This is what makes things tricky. Females then naturally resist fat loss! The key here is to manage estrogen levels to ensure that fat loss is effective and maintainable. Luckily however, there are ways to counteract low levels unlock amazing fat burning potential!

Mental battles

This is what I find to be the biggest battle for the female looking to lose fat. The inner battles with themselves. Men also compete with this, but it often motivates them, whereas with a lot of females it makes them lose motivation and ponder why they are even doing it at all. Impatience, instant gratification, self-acceptance, constant comparison, embarrassment and pleasing seem to have the most detrimental impact of all. The reason restrictive diets and fad diets are so popular is because we are impatient by nature, we want things now, we don’t want to learn and put in effort to seriously benefit ourselves for the future. Of course it’s easier to just follow the newest diet or sign up with a popular coach for next 8 weeks. Firstly, you are wasting your time and money, secondly, it will take even faster for you to regain all of the weight! Until you can accept where you are now, and visualize where you are going to be if you just do things properly from day one, well I am afraid to tell you, that those 8 week challenges certainly do not last a lifetime, and people couldn’t give 2 shits about how good looked for a week, sorry. The biggest step you can take, is actually figuring out why you want to lose fat in the first place, and if the answer is even remotely, because you care about what strangers may think of you, well then you are in for some deep psychological rollercoasters. Focus on yourself, work on you in all aspects of your health, and I promise you will be content. Be patient and do things the right way.

 

On a final note, I want to appeal to all of you girls out there that are currently on a fat loss journey, I encourage you to take a step back and reevaluate everything. Dissect your diet and training program. It is not complicated, I know you can see what is good and what is crap. Review it all, evaluate it, evaluate your coach, and evaluate your dietitian. Do they care about your long term success or do they care about your long term payments. Are you supported and cared about as an individual, or are just another email or text, the same email or text sent out to multiple others, on different journeys, with different goals?

If you are reading this, hopefully I will reach you one day in the future, and help set you free!

DONT DIET! Why you should seek alternative measures.

diets dont work

I’m sure we have all attempted to follow a diet at one point or another in our lives? And at the moment you are currently on a diet or not, but that’s obvious. You either diet or you don’t. You hedge healthy eating against unhealthy eating. You hedge good foods against bad foods. You hedge foods that you are allowed vs foods that you are not allowed, and it’s either all or nothing. You either eat well or don’t at certain periods throughout the year.

Now set diets do have their place when it comes to non-communicable diseases and dietcycleillnesses. But for the average person working towards achieving their ideal physique and/or performance goals, set meal plans are simply a recipe for failure and ill physical and mental health. Yes, you may argue and say that you got into the best shape of your life after following a strict meal plan! But are you still in that shape 2 weeks after attaining it? Adherence is important, but sustainability is more important.

The reason why set diets are so popular is because they take zero effort to put together and they offer insurance for the person prescribing or advocating it. If you don’t see results or reach your goal, it’s your fault, you must have slipped up or given up right? You are accountable to adhere to the plan, not the person prescribing it. You failed, when things got tough there were no alternatives, you obviously did not have what it takes. The reputation of the person who prescribed the diet is intact, because their plans work right? But only if you stick to it 100%, 100% of the time. The blame is always on you!

Now let’s say that you followed everything to the tee, and here you are having achieved your goals, well done! But what now? The only “good” foods out there are chicken, fish, broccoli, sweet potatoes and rice. Everything else is off limits. Oh but wait, you were perfect for 12 weeks, so it’s cool to binge now, you hedged against it when you decided to diet 12 weeks ago, so you deserve it. Even though you reached your goal, again, the only person benefiting is the person who prescribed the diet. You put in all of the hard work to reach your goal, you looked great, took pics, told all your friends, but now 2 weeks later you are back to square one. Yet the person who prescribed the diet gets all the credit and more victims because they advertised your transformation all over social media. Sounds fair right?

The reality is, that set meal plans, although they may lead you to achieving your goal, lack variety, sustainability and longevity for the person following it. It is impossible to stick to a set meal plan for your entire life, I don’t care how dedicated you are or how much will power you have! Besides the fact that it is also unhealthy. Below are some of my main reasons as to why following set meal plans are a recipe for disaster;

 

  1. Adherence difficulty

Set diets and meal plans lack variety and flexibility making them extremely difficult to adhere too. They force your life to revolve around your eating, when your eating should revolve around your life. To me the word DIET stands for “Damn Impractical Eating Techniques”.

diet-frustration_0

  1. Sustainability

With a high adherence difficulty, it is unlikely that set meal plans and diets will be adhered to for extended periods of time. Goals will either never be achieved, and if they are, they will most definitely be short lived!

sustainibility

  1. Lifestyle implications

This one is simple. If your life revolves around what you eat, you are headed down a slippery path. Walking around with a Tupperware filled with fish and greens 24/7 and becoming anti-social because you can’t miss a meal is no way to live. You will not lose all of your progress if you don’t eat for 5 hours. Diets add extra stress to your life, shouldn’t getting in shape reduce stress?

 

  1. Variety

Set meal plans and diets are severely lacking in food variety. You are confined to the foods within the plan. This leads to food segregation and tunnel vision when it comes to making healthy food choices. Often, set meal plans and diets exclude highly important food groups such as carbohydrates, dairy and fruits, which may lead to ill health and nutrient deficiencies.

Food-restrictions

  1. Binging

Set meal plans and diets either promote binge eating or develop binge eating. In the fitness industry almost all diets allow for 1 to 2 “cheat meals” per week. Heavily binging on “bad” foods in one day or sitting is not healthy and formulates eating disorders. Does it not make more sense to have a little bit of chocolate each day or when you feel like it, rather than trying to scuffle down 10 bars because you going to have to wait another week until your next fix? Popular fad diets don’t promote binging but they do inherently develop it. Eliminating foods just makes us want them more, it is a ticking time bomb until you break the diet in a 2 day food coma before you get “back on track” for the next couple of weeks.

binge-eating-disorder

  1. Food relationships

Set meal plans and diets promote extremely unhealthy relationships with food. They give you complete tunnel vision. Anything that is not included in your diet is seen as “bad”. Your diet includes sweet potatoes but excludes quinoa, how can quinoa be excluded and seen as a “bad” food that is not allowed? It just makes no sense.

 

  1. Education

At the end of it all, education is what will ultimately set yourself up for long term success, and set meal plans and diets fall terribly short in the education department. Anyone can follow a meal plan, it is easy to understand and takes no effort on your behalf when it comes to food choices and meal structuring. They teach you to see foods as carbs, fats and proteins, when in reality, no one food will purely contain a single macronutrient. You will never learn what foods are really made up of, and that different foods supply an abundance of different nutrients. Most people see brown rice as a carb, yes the majority of its energy is made up of carbs, but it also contains protein and fat, which will contribute to those daily intakes too.

food education

  1. Supplements

And lastly, a big issue with diets in the fitness industry especially, is that most people prescribing them also advise a high usage of supplementation along with the diet in order to “maximize” results. More often than not, these supplements are unnecessary. All they do is cost you money. Placing more importance on supplementation rather than the foods you consume is downright idiotic. Next time someone recommends that you use a specific product, ask them how it fits into your plan and how the energy and nutrient breakdown will affect your progression. Chances are good they will have no clue.

diets dont work