Nutrition and Fitness
When you work in nutrition and fitness, you frequently get asked the question, “What do you think of ….?” insert a diet here - keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, whole 30, vegan, etc. A $60 billion dollar industry, diets are big money and unfortunately most of them do not work long term as 95% of people are unable to maintain weight loss they achieve from dieting over time. Surely they must work on some level though!! Everyone knows someone who has had success or has one of those perfectly posed before & after pictures, right? While it may matter very little over time if you are cutting carbs, not eating 16 hours a day or swearing off all meat, what does matter is finding the best eating plan for you. What most of the diets teach us is where we can start to find the answer:
- Diets teach us to pay attention to what we eat. Whether you are focusing on protein, carbs, fat, vegetables, fish, etc. the very fact that you are focusing on what you are putting in your mouth is a positive for most diets. You are reading ingredient and nutrition labels and learning about the nutrients your body is taking in. And almost all modern diets recommend you eat less processed food and more minimally processed, nutrient rich foods. BINGO!
- Diets teach us to pay attention to when and how we eat. Whether you are supposed to go 16 hours without eating, eat every 2 hours or somewhere in between, a diet plan will force you to plan out your food intake in advance and leave you less likely to hit the drive-thru last minute or forget to eat. Regular eating patterns are important for appetite control, hunger cue awareness, consistency and building healthy food choice habits.
- Diets teach us about food choice. At some point in almost every diet, “the splurge” is built in. Whether it's a cheat meal, cheat day or just a loosening of the reins after weeks of restriction, you are forced to make choices about what foods are really worth it to you. A splurge teaches us how to be just as mindful about the less healthy food and drinks we put in our body as it does the healthy. Do I really want this cookie or is it just a habit? Is it something I enjoy and will savor without guilt? Can I have just a little bit and be satisfied? What am I really craving?
- Diets teach us to move more and exercise. You can’t out exercise a bad diet, but you also can’t out diet a stationary body. A consistent exercise routine allows your body to take the healthy food you are feeding it and convert it to energy. Building muscle and burning fat is where you find the magic synergy of a well designed eating and exercise plan.
So while there is no one best diet out there, there is plenty to learn from the focus that diets put on our nutrition and health. Most popular diets have a lot in common and focusing on these common elements can benefit most. To maintain long term success over quick fixes, seek to build small habits one at a time that are maintainable. One extra serving of veggies per day over a year is better than 5 servings everyday that you only maintain for a month. A 30-minute dance or yoga class that you enjoy and do twice a week is better than the treadmill you end up using to store piles of laundry. A daily walk with your dog is better than the 5 mile run you give up after a few tries because you hate running. Work to find your fit and when you do, you will replace the word diet with healthy lifestyle.
Amy Beyer, Certified Nutrition Coach & Group Fitness Instructor, Kelly’s Bootcamp & Inergy