When it comes to dieting, many companies will try to sell you a golden ticket. An easy, one size fits all method that is sure to be the solution to all of your diet complications. But how often do those diets actually work? Truly, what is the success rate? Will following an all protein diet really help you lose a substantial amount of weight in 4 weeks? Will you really perform better, have a better social life, and be your happiest, all while keeping the weight off? Or have you been sold a program that will never lead you to the results you truly desire?
The truth behind most diets is that they are trying to sell you an end result rather than teach you how to properly get the results. This allows the company to keep power over the consumer. Selling and reselling a miracle diet that is designed to produce sales rather than to empower their clients.
When it comes to dieting, knowledge is power. Understanding the science behind dieting is crucial to success. Knowing what works and doesn't work for you and understanding why, allows you to have complete control over your results.
Where Do I Start?
When starting a diet it is important to ask yourself two things:
1) Am I ready to be completely dedicated to a diet for about 9-12 weeks?
2) Am I willing to accept that this is a long-term process (with scheduled periods on and off of the diet) that will not get me the results I desire overnight?
If you can honestly accept those two statements than you are ready to begin. If not, you may need to reevaluate your end-goal. The bottom line is you will never be able to get the results you desire and keep them from a crash diet. Slow and steady will always win out.
You Don't Have to Diet Forever
The good news is that if you are properly following a diet, you will not have to diet forever. A healthy diet approach follows a method of periodization. Periodization refers to the strategic implementation of specific phases. One of these phases is often refered to as 'dieting' or 'cutting' which refers to a strict period of time that you are looking to lose weight. During that period of time, you should follow a disciplined regimen. When you have followed the cutting phase for 9-12 weeks (unless prescribed otherwise), you should be ready to move on to the next phase of the system. At this point you should feel ready to recover, both mentally and physically.
Recovery is Crucial
In the next phase, whether maintenance or bulking, you are recovering from your diet, both mentally and physically and seeking new goals. You may have noticed at the end of your cut that you felt exceptionally high cravings for sweets and/or all the food you restricted yourself from. This is natural. A maintenance period is designed to help you lower your cravings by adding back in more food that you love and upping your total daily energy expenditure. Maintenance phases are designed to slowly add back in more calories so that your new body weight can adjust to the added calories, without gaining weight in the process.
Maintenance phases are extremely beneficial for long-term weight loss as they help your body recover from the deficit so that you can lose even more weight in the next cutting cycle.
The reason this works is because as you put your body at a caloric deficit for an extended amount of time, your body adapts. Your body responds to a lower caloric intake by using less energy. If you were to continue to lower your caloric intake more and more, eventually you would find yourself at an extremely unsustainable intake that you would still find it difficult to lose weight at. Hence, the common misconsception that once you diet, you have to diet forever to keep your results. The truth is your body needs breaks from diets and the chance to recover properly from a deficit. This is why a maintenance period is so crucial in between phases of cutting.
The Important Thing to Remember
Do not rush weightloss. It may take you 2 years to reach your end weight loss goal but you are much better off doing that versus waisting 3 months of your life on a crash diet. At the end of it all, your goal should be to lose weight, keep it off, and live your happiest, healthiest life. Weight loss is a long term goal that takes time, different phases, and most imporantly patience. The get rich quick scheme doesn't work. Understanding how your body works is truly the most valuable information you can learn when it comes to dieting.
If you would like to learn more about diet periodization, check out this step by step guide!