The important thing to first know is that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. But following a “crash” or “fad” diet is not a good idea either. Diets that are very restricting put you at risk of throwing your metabolism off balance and mentally are extremely stressful.
My experience with restrictive dieting (no carbohydrates, salt, meat, etc.) have all contributed to a poor relationship with food and resulted, many times, in binge eating and then over-exercising in attempts to reconcile my over-indulgence.
I have learned that the key to a healthy diet and good nutrition is moderation. You can eat carbohydrates, but get more carbohydrates from fruits and whole wheat products. You can have salt, but avoid packaged foods with excess sodium or MSG. You can eat meat, but pay attention to your portions; one serving can range from 4-6 oz of meat and is approximately the size of your fist. Eat whole foods, avoid processed foods. Eat “healthy” most of the time. For example, I try to follow an 80/20 rule. I eat healthy 80% of the time, and “junk food” 20% of the time. This often works for me. Completely and honestly, there are some days where it’s more like 50/50 or 40/60, but somedays it’s also like 90/10… are you getting the picture here? Moderation is the key.
So, with that little introduction out the way, here are some common dieting myths I have encountered and why they drive me absolutely up the wall.
I need to always be cutting calories.
FALSE: Cutting calories is a good way to lose weight, especially if you are currently eating an excess amount of calories, however, if you are always in a state of calorie deficit (less calories you are taking in than you are burning) then your body will enter starvation mode and will begin storing all your calories as fat. This is an evolutionary trait… if our body is unsure when we’ll be able to eat again, it’s going to store everything that comes in. Therefore, if you’re go to extremely cut calories, do it for no more than 4-5 months at a time. Your body needs fuel.
I can’t eat carbs. or I need to be gluten free.
FALSE: My #1 rule is not restricting entire food groups. Unless you have an actual allergy or disorder such as Celiac’s disease there is no reason to cut gluten or carbohydrates completely out of your diet, because the next time you “cheat” and eat it, your body will react poorly. You may bloat, have GI discomfort, fatigue, or extreme swelling. You may also begin to eat more “gluten free” products, which tend to be higher in fat and artificial chemicals for flavor and texture… which are not necessary good things either. ALSO your brain can only run on carbohydrates, so cutting these out may affect your memory, mental capacity, and emotional well-being. This also forces your body to break down muscle for energy… and who wants to lose muscle when you’re trying to gain it!
I need to do a juice and smoothie cleanse.
FALSE: Some people find it helpful to replace meals or snacks with smoothies or juices; I very frequently make myself protein shakes and smoothies. HOWEVER, keep in mind that as soon as you stop your “all-liquid” juice cleanse and begin eating solid food again… you will probably gain weight back. ALSO, you need to pay attention to what you’re putting in your smoothies and/or juices this includes paying attention to your macronutrients (see next page for more). Smoothies may often be full of great, healthy, whole foods, but you may be full of lots of carbohydrates and very little protein, which for a full meal, is not enough. A good meal should consist of a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (the proportions of which will depend on your body type, your activity, and your goals).
note: I was told of a women completing a “water cleanse” where she would only intake water for 10 days… Don’t do this, sweet friends, be smarter than this please.
In the end, with all of this said and done, you can eat sweets or junk food but do so sparingly. You need to be able to enjoy life and doing things like going out with friends but if you’re going to cheat, have a cheat meal, it doesn’t have to be a cheat day. Remember: moderation.
As you can see in the pictures, this past week has been more of a 40/60 week for me… but that’s okay because I’m back on track and staying positive.