The word “diet” is another one of those words that have started gaining a negative connotation with regards to fitness. This is one of those cases that I can actually agree with. Dieting such that you’re body is subjected to abnormally low amounts of fats or carbs might be effective in the short term but tend to have little to no long term results and a bounce-back effect when you come off the diet. That is, when you end your special food program, your body thinks it just underwent starvation, and begins to store large amounts of whatever macronutrient you deprived it of. No Bueno.
Ironically, the origin of the word diet was from diete, diaeta, or diaita (Middle English, Anglo-French, and Greek) all revolving the the manner of living. The word diet was intended to describe how one ate or drank, and is the summation of the foods that one consumes.
Thus, while I do watch my diet and critically evaluate what I eat, I don’t believe in fad diets.
At the end of the day, a net calorie loss equals weight loss, and a net calorie surprise equals weight gained. Whether it be fat, or muscle, that depends on what is complimenting your lifestyle at the time.
I utilize MyFitnessPal (join me @itsboomie) to count how much calories I eat. I’ve found that this helps me understand the overall amount of food I’m eating. To help compliment my specific fitness goals, I also consider my macronutrients or my “macros”. In many ways, just like how your weight is only a part of the bigger picture, your overall caloric intake can mean many things. Each gram of fat you eat is 9 calories and each gram of protein and carbs is 4 calories each.
I’ve found that by watching my macros, I’m able to effectively evaluate how much I’m eating. Bodybuilding.com wrote an excellent article on how much protein someone should be ingesting, especially when attempting to build muscle mass. The article supported the 1 gram per pound bodyweight of protein that is commonly suggested. This equals about 50% of my total caloric intake. I then split the remainder of my carbohydrates and fats 3:2. MyFitnessPal (under the Goals settings) allows for you to input these goals and helps me watch my macros as I eat throughout the day.
That said, just because I can eat up to a certain amount of a certain macronutrient, doesn’t mean I go crazy. For my carbohydrate and fat goals, I am for fiber-rich carbohydrates and unsaturated good-fats through broccoli and avocado oil. I supplement my diet with 2 double-scoop protein shakes a day, one post-workout, and one before bed. This makes up 100 g, close to 50% of my protein intake. Without it, hitting 50% is difficult for me. My day to day food menu changes with whatever I want to eat and whatever I crave, so long as I hit my goal.
This allows me to indulge in the occasional chips and salsa when I’m at a holiday party, and gives me the freedom to make my diet… mine.
The concept of macro-watching only makes up a small element of “my diet” but is probably the most foundational piece. By watching my macros and calories at the same time, I’m allowed a great amount of flexibility while achieving my fitness goals.
Every person reacts differently to a diet. At the end of the day, it really depends on what works for you. I’ve found that my body adapts well to the commonly used 50:30:20 protein:carbs:fats and I’ve stuck with it. There are a lot of different opinions on dieting, but at the end of the day, this is whats worked for me.