I love donuts! Mmmmm donuts. Wait! Does that say I love donuts? Yes it does. Hang on I'm confused, I can't eat donuts, I'm trying to lose weight!
Fitness advice is full of do's and don'ts - you can't have this if you want to have that. You must reduce your carbs. You must reduce your fat. Sugar is bad. Meat is bad. Ahhhhhhh! My head hurts! Everyone has their own opinions and those promoting the latest trends will fight to prove that their way is better than your way, or that guy's way, or her way. But how do you know which way is right? Who do you believe? Which way is really going to get you the results you want? How do you sift through all the contradicting information and find the right eating plan for you?
So, your sitting there reading an article in Men's Health or Women's Fitness Magazine titled "Eat these 5 foods for mind crushing super sexy abs". You're minding your own business thinking about sexy abs and somebody yells, "Dude you gotta go paleo man cause that's what the cavemen did!". But you're there thinking I don't want to be a caveman. I want to eat donuts and still live my life. And can you please stop yelling at me.
So, let's go back to donuts. Delicious, tasty donuts. I love donuts, I could eat donuts just about every week and at the same time still achieve results. How? Because I make my food work for me by tracking my macros. Without a doubt, consistently tracking and hitting your food intake is the most successful way anyone can achieve results. Not cutting carbs. Not cutting sugar. Not cutting fat. Not blasting yourself with cardio. It's tracking your food. The reason I can eat donuts as well as many of my other favourite foods is because I make my food fit into my daily macro requirements and so can you. There's no reason to shy away or restrict yourself from the foods you enjoy, given that you understand the pros and cons.
Your most successful eating plan will be the one you can do consistently and doesn't stop you from living your life. Everything is irrelevant if you can't do it consistently. It doesn't matter what training plan you're on or how many meals you eat per day; if you can't do it consistently because you hate it or it doesn't fit your lifestyle then it's irrelevant. Being happy about your body, fitness or life isn't about doing things for short periods of time, it's about doing them consistently over long periods not because you have to, but because you want to.
Ok so let's think of a scenario. Something that I've witnessed many times before. You decide it's time to get into shape, this time it's for real. You're going to do this and show everyone how awesome you are… sexy abs come at me! You start the day with a nice bowl of delicious oats, blueberries and a low-fat yogurt. Yum! Great start! And then every other meal is chicken with broccoli, tuna with broccoli, salmon with broccoli… broccoli, broccoli, broccoli!!! Then suddenly, there it is like a sledge hammer to the head. CHOCOLATE!!!!! Ahhhhh the cravings. You try to fight it. You drink some tea, water, chew some gum, brush your teeth. Anything that will put an end to the emotional craving that feels like a volcano is about to erupt within you! You think, just a little bit won't hurt. I trained hard today, I deserve just a little bit… And before you know it BAM! You've smashed the whole block and you're now swimming in a pool of guilt with chocolate all over your face. Day 1. Fail! Day 2… Let's do the same thing again, and again, and again. It becomes a viscous cycle and before you know it your relationship with food is unhealthy and your diet plan is over. You're not enjoying life, and you're now rushing to the fridge for that bottle of pinot grig, because wine fixes everything, right? Wrong! Now you're hungover, you're not enjoying things even more and your crying why me?! It's so unfair!
On a serious note, if you're restricting yourself from eating the things you like then trying to get the results you want will always be a battle. But if you can make your food work for you and include the food you love in your daily macro requirements then suddenly, the dark world of 'dieting' seems so much brighter. If fitting in a couple of pieces of chocolate, or that donut will stop you from binging like it's the last supper, doesn't it just make more sense to fit it in and be assured that you've still hit your macro target for the day rather than throwing your results out the window? It does to me. Guilt free and craving knocked on the head.
When it comes to results the most important thing is hitting daily macronutrient requirements. If you're consistently eating the right amount of protein, fat and carbs for your body type, exercise and your goal, it'll be the most effective way to achieve long term results. There's no reason to cut out the foods you enjoy, however you must ensure those foods fit within the boundaries of your macros.
Now I'm not saying it's an excuse to go bananas on junk food, let's be realistic. As a health professional, I will always recommend the healthiest options. Many healthy foods contain essential vitamins, minerals and fibre that the body needs to grow and function properly. Eating a diet full of junk food and sugar could lead to health issues. But including that piece of chocolate or your other favourite foods into your macro requirements will allow you to face and overcome your cravings without damaging your results.
Somewhere along the way someone came up with the idea that the only way to get results is to eat as clean and as healthy as possible. That pizza that you've been craving for the past 3 weeks, you can't have that. Well I'm telling you that you can. If you know the macronutrients of the food you're eating, then you can fit it into your daily allowance. Restricting leads to cravings. Cravings leads to binging. Binging leads to over consumption of calories which leads to no results. If you take the time to educate yourself and understand nutrition you will be able to make appropriate choices and have a positive relationship with food.
Just be aware that some food options will be nutritionally better than others and for anyone trying to lose fat you must be in a calorie deficit. You must be burning more than you're consuming. Most of the foods that people usually crave tend to be high in calories such as pizza, pasta, chocolate, donuts, ice cream etc. These could take up a large amount of your daily allowance, especially when you're on a fat-loss program, so controlling your portion size is important. Take control of your food, identify and plan what you want to eat and adjust your portions appropriately. If you want to eat a whole pizza and still stay within the boundaries of your macros, then you'll need to adjust your other meals throughout the day to fit it in. It's not a secret, it's science. It's taking control. It's making food work for you.
Consuming foods you love doesn't have to be associated with negativity. Fitting them into your daily requirements allows you to consistently balance your food, exercise and lifestyle, however there may be times when you over consume. That's ok, you will just need to find the time to burn it off. If you are tracking, then you can calculate exactly how much exercise you need to do by using your 'Exercise vs Food' calculator on VVT.
Need help? At Vision Personal Training Camberwell we provide you with the support, knowledge and tools to ensure your success. We offer educational seminars on nutrition, exercise and emotions as well as personalised one on one nutrition sessions to ensure you have all the knowledge you need to empower yourself to take control of your own health and fitness. Contact us today to start the beginning of your new life.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.