Tailored approach helps dieters go the distance
WORDS: Rick Brennan PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied
It’s one of the most frequent questions health and fitness professionals are asked: What is the best diet to follow to achieve incredible results? What we eat directly affects our performance on a day to day basis and by fuelling our bodies with the right nutrients at the right times, we see vastly different results. But for any diet to work and more importantly, be sustainable, there are a few important things to consider.
What is the best diet ever invented with incredible results?
This is by far the most common question I have come across during my 25 years in the health and fitness industry as a sports nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach. When you break down all of the pros and cons, it simply comes down to following a nutritional protocol that suits your lifestyle, food choices, religious and moral beliefs and of course, delivers results.
Diet trends will come and go and in the past decade, with the ever-increasing presence of social media, we have certainly had our fair share. Unfortunately, we have been misled at times with diets being pushed by people and organisations who have a vested interest in either foods, supplements or other business opportunities where a profit can be made.
Whether it’s keto, low carb, fasting or simply high/low-calorie cycling days, all diets have cult-like followers who will testify their diet is the best while any others are a waste of time.
The truth is all these diets certainly have their benefits and studies reveal that no two bodies will ever respond the same to food. Trialling different options allows you to see which nutritional protocol structure your body responds to and which diets fit your lifestyle.
Nutrition is very individualised and must be tailored to optimise results. While eliminating highly processed, fast foods and adding more unprocessed, whole foods can help achieve impressive results, sustainability and enjoyment must be personalised to maintain the best long-term results.
Here are some key points to consider to make sure your diet not only works but more importantly, can be sustained.
Some people do not feel they need or want to eat breakfast and therefore a fasting protocol may be their best option. Skipping breakfast and eating their first meal at lunch enables people to save time in the morning while others find fasting helps them with greater clarity and better cognitive function, which allows some of their best thought processes and decision making to be undertaken at the start of the day.
From a weight-loss perspective, fasting can be helpful as it allows the ability to backload calories late in the day. In my experience, most people over-consume calories in the evening once they slow down for the day but when they are busy during the day, food is the furthest thing from their mind. Fasting in the morning allows people to eat more calories later in the day without over consuming their daily allowance.
There are many other benefits to fasting including autophagy, where the body recycles its own cells (anti-aging). Fasting can also have a positive impact on the gut microbiome, improving metabolic health and decreasing inflammation. This can have an enormous impact on the way we look and feel.
People who want to lose bodyweight (fat) but do not participate in high activity sport or burst-style training may find the keto diet the best fit for them. It’s important to remember our bodies require different forms of energy to survive. Our body’s preferred energy comes from carbs and fats. Yes, our body can break down stored protein (muscle) to provide sugar through a process known as gluconeogenesis, but this is something I do not recommend as muscle is the organ of longevity.
Lean muscle positively impacts our BMR, which has the greatest impact on our metabolism. For those living a more sedentary lifestyle, the keto diet works extremely well as fat is 70 per cent of the body’s preferred energy source when we are inactive. For those living physically active lives and training hard, the body’s preferred energy source will be carbohydrates.
The number one key to any weight gain or weight loss goal is calories in versus calories out. I recommend a higher number than most when it comes to protein consumption for many reasons. However, if your carbs and fats equate to the same number of calories regardless of whether you are following high fat, low carb or low fat, high carb, then science shows, and I have seen firsthand, that weight loss or weight gain goals will be the same 9.9 times out of 10.
There will always be differing opinions on what style of nutrition plan will deliver the best results. I have consistently found that a perfect nutrition plan comes down to the individual and their goals. For best results, it is essential to find a plan that becomes a lifestyle.
* Rick Brennan is a certified personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and sports nutritionist with more than 25 year’s experience in the health and fitness industry. Rick has helped change the lives of thousands of people through his body transformation coaching and online personal training and nutrition programs tailored to individual needs and wants.