We often come across countless types of dieting protocols, and testimonials of how these different approaches work and how each one of these diets seems to be better than the others. They all promise the same things: amazing results and years of healthy living.
But despite all these amazing benefits, why do so many diets fail?
The first quarter of the new year is when most people generally embark on their ‘health journey’. But about 80% of these people quit on their goal halfway through. So, what are they doing wrong? Is it their lack of commitment or maybe bad dieting choices?
Here are the most important factors to take into account when looking for the diet that suits you best.
Adherence to the plan
This is probably the most overlooked aspect of any diet. All diets tell you what to eat and what not to eat, but they don’t take into account your personal preference. They just tell you what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’ for you, and how you should be avoiding certain things, quite possibly, things you love.
The adherence to whichever diet you are on is the most important aspect. Because what good is a healthy diet if you’re not going to stick to it? It makes no sense to have a plan you’re not going to follow.
So, look for an approach that allows some form of enjoyment. Because let’s be real here, you know you’re not going to be able to eat grilled chicken and brown rice forever, and you know you love some ice cream or a piece of cake every once in a while. So, it’s important that you find a way to enjoy these things without them having a negative impact on your progress.
The total caloric content of the diet, can, in most cases, be more important than the food choices. This is because no matter how healthy your foods are, they still have calories and can easily add up to your total daily intake, to the point where you can exceed your requirements, which in turn will hinder your fat loss goals. And in the case of obese individuals who need to lose weight to improve their health markers, too many calories will be detrimental and will not allow you to lose the weight you need to lose in order to better your health.
Now I’m not saying that counting calories is a must, but it’s always important to take into account the caloric value of the food you eat. Portion control is crucial for your body composition and health-related goals.
Macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) are what provide the calories in food, and the total macro ratio within the diet is extremely important if you want to achieve a well-built physique.
Each macronutrient plays a different role within our bodies and its why we recommend counting macros instead of calories. Because it’s the context of those calories that matter the most.
If you would rank macros in order of importance, protein would be number one on the list, followed by fat and then carbs. The reason why protein is the most important macro is because it’s the one that builds our muscle mass. And if you want to give your body a good shape, muscle is what you need.
And last but not least: FOOD CHOICES
This may seem odd to you, to think that food choices would rank last on the scale of importance. But I hope you’ve come to understand why the steps before this are of greater importance than the actual foods you choose to be a part of your diet. But also keep in mind that just because I’m ranking this as last in the list of priorities, it does not mean it’s not important. It’s a crucial part of a healthy diet, because a diet without a wide variety of healthy foods can give you results but will not do good to your well-being, nor will it promote longevity. And if you’re into fitness, I would hope that your goal isn’t just to look good but also to have a healthy lifestyle.
Food choices are important because of the different nutrients our body requires to sustain life. It’s not just about calories and macronutrients, it’s also about micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), phytonutrients, antioxidants and fibre, all of which are necessary in our diet. Without them our body cannot function properly, nor can it fight off deadly diseases that are a threat to our lives.
This is the reason why as a general guideline I always recommend using the 80/20 rule. This means that at least 80% of your overall calories should come from whole food sources, foods that are nutrient dense (more nutrients per calorie) and provide you with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, fibre, etc. The other 20% can be more “flexible”.
These 4 factors are what make a diet a good diet, as long as you always keep in mind that all 4 of them are an absolute must in any type of diet you choose to follow. So be wise with the decisions you make, and remember that this is not a short-term goal, this is a lifetime commitment to yourself.