Specialized plans work better when you stop doing them
I follow diet trends closely. I see various specialized plans come into favour and turn into the new click bait for media outlets that focus on trend-spotting. It’s important for me to know because inevitably I will be asked what I think, or will have a special diet plan requested by a client. Understanding these diets and how they affect various people is important because what may work well for one person may make another person sick. If I can’t educate people about this they may just find a version of the plan online and try it themselves, possibly learning the hard way.
If you haven’t tried any new diets, not to worry, they may fall out of fashion before you even get a chance
The favoured diet of the moment seems to be the ketogenic diet plan combined with intermittent fasting ketogenic diet combined with intermittent fasting. If you’ve tried either one of these plans you’ll recall the challenge you faced in keeping with the plan meal to meal let along day over day. Carefully planning each meal out to ensure you’re consuming just the right amount of macronutrients, the difficulty in sticking with the plan when eating out, and on top of all that ensuring you don’t eat before or after a certain time of day. All while navigating work, life and the pitfalls of hunger and cravings. If you haven’t tried any new diets, not to worry, they may fall out of fashion before you even get a chance.
What has become quite apparent is that the more complicated a diet is the harder it is to stick with. Claims of success are very convincing and when we’re feeling enthusiastic and motivated (usually before we’ve started), we’re confident we can be successful too. The reality you don’t hear about is that some can’t even make it through one day, others might tough it out a few days or even a week, but so many just can’t tap into enough willpower to actually keep a difficult nutrition plan going for the duration required to get noticeable effects such as weight loss, muscle gain, increased energy or a number of other promised results.
The formula for success is two simple things: patience and consistency.
So how is it that so many other people don’t go on any kind of extreme or challenging dietary plan but they still manage to be fit and healthy? The formula for success is two simple things: patience and consistency. Changes to something as fundamental as what you eat every day just don’t happen overnight. It can take people months or even years to shift to a new way of eating, and not without a lot of support along the way. Others give up before they even get close because they were expecting instant results and didn’t have the right information going in. There are many things that influence the way we eat every day. It requires a fair bit of willpower to get past a particular craving or desire, when you’re craving 10 different things that you recently dropped from your diet it can become overwhelming.
Food is a number of other things besides being nourishment for our bodies. It also nourishes our mind.
This may sound like a negative but really it has an upside in that it takes the pressure off to achieve quick results, and it provides the time needed to adapt to a new way of eating. Trying to force a dietary plan that differs from years – perhaps an entire lifetime – of eating habits can be disruptive in many ways. Food is a number of other things besides being nourishment for our bodies. It also nourishes our mind. It evokes memories, it provides comfort, it may be associated with a culture or religion that bonds us socially with others. People often rely on food to get them through the difficult aspects of life and when those foods are high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, they can also become addictive. Sudden disruption of what is often a high intake of these foods can have a pretty dramatic effect on someone both physically and psychologically.
There are some people that need to make an immediate and dramatic change in order to actually be successful, but for most people a weaning process will likely be more effective. The approach will vary with each individual depending on what foods are creating a sticking point in their ability to get healthy. Focusing on quality over quantity, slowly eliminating things like snacks and desserts (or swapping for healthier options) and then allowing for special occasions or even just slip-ups here and there, will create a more attainable transition to a new way of eating.
It’s not that those more intensive plans don’t work. They’re often an amazing tool for people that have more defined health goals, but the starting point must first be considered. Someone that is already athletic and eats fairly well will probably find it easier to try a more extreme diet and will probably see quicker results. Someone that has a poor diet and is considerably overweight may find it too difficult and may see little if any results.
The best approach for the average person trying to get real and lasting results is to focus on no more than one or two small changes to start and to expand on those only after changes start to happen. Where each person needs to start will vary and meeting with a nutritionist is a good way to create a game plan for long term success. That may require starting with one plan and then graduating to a more specialized one, but often just a few changes generate better results than most people expect. Eating healthy becomes intuitive and those trendy diet plans start to seem a little unnecessary. No diet plan is probably the best plan of all.