What is the best dietary strategy for you?
Written by Jack Wilson
Are you sitting there wondering what approach to take in terms of achieving your fat loss goals that you set year in year out after the Christmas & New Year indulgence?
If your goal is to get lean and be in shape, then today I am going to talk about different strategies that many of you may have used in the past or are currently using now as well as my own experiences and preferred strategies so you’re in a much more informed place to take action.
Over the last 3-4 years I have used various strategies and types of ‘diets’ personally and with a wide range of clients but as you’d expect the end goal for each individual is also quite different – build muscle, lose weight, get fit, perform better etc. When it comes to fat loss specifically though, one thing remains constant – the need to create an energy deficit.
What does this mean?
Pretty straight forward actually. To create an energy deficit is about burning more energy than you are consuming or consuming less energy than you are burning.
This brings me onto the approach …
When setting up a nutrition plan, the goal is never to restrict food groups unnecessarily or set you up to fail by being entirely realistic with what you can manage. Instead, the aim is to base the plan on something that aligns to your goals and your lifestyle. Also, I’d look at the time period we’re working with. Do you have a photoshoot, holiday or whatever we may be aiming for? This helps inform the need to take a short, harsh aggressive approach or to take a long, slow and steady route.
Both of the above strategies work as long as you are creating an energy deficit for sustained period of time then you will get lean and get in shape but I’d highly recommend, where possible, to take the long, slow and steady one.
Slow and steady wins the race When dieting, you put a lot of stress on the body, physically, mentally or in some cases both. The goal with any dieting phase though is to keep you in a state of happiness for as long as possible. Calories are higher for longer as your physique starts to adapt to the protocol, meaning your satiation levels are higher for longer and your level of happiness and adherence is much higher. You’ll also have a greater chance of preserving muscle tissue for a lot longer too (key when it comes to getting lean as the more tissue that you hold onto it will allow you to achieve that fuller and thicker physique).
Finally, a longer time period enables you to have mental/diet breaks. This is where I might get you dieting for 6-10 weeks making awesome progress and then throw in a week of increasing calories
slightly, eating more higher palatable foods, bringing your mental state back to a normal position. A great way of getting your hormones upregulated and putting you in a far better position than you would be if I just kept dieting you down for another 8-12 weeks!
It’s for these reasons I’d always opt for the long and steady route (16+ weeks) and why, in my experience, it’s the one with the highest success rate.
Why an aggressive approach shouldn’t be the go-to
When going for the short, harsh aggressive approach you run the risk of burning muscle as well as fat and this is due to how low your calories shall be taken in such a short period of time to achieve that end goal physique. Speaking from experience, I have done many 8-12 week dieting phases to achieve that leaner physique and yes, I got that end result but I suffered massively throughout the process. Things like becoming ill, being in a foul mood most of the time, not enjoying pleasurable foods, becoming a Tupperware warrior …the list goes on. It wasn’t until I was shown the slow and steady approach that I looked no further than the standard 12 week diet plans.
Of course, if needs must then we can go down this path but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be your go-to.
Take away points
In summary, regardless of the approach you take it, hard work, dedication, time and trust will be required. If you put all of the above into either strategy then you will ultimately achieve that end goal. All that will differ is your level of enjoyment throughout the process.
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