With 50,000 results coming from a search for “diet books” on Amazon.com, it’s no wonder so many people are confused about what they should be eating to lose weight and stay healthy. Many people start fad diets without knowing how to tell if a diet plan is right for them or not. In this post, I am going to share with you the principles that I believe all good nutrition programs should follow.
Let’s go for it…
1. Good nutrition controls ‘calories in’ versus ‘calories out’
This is not just a dietary rule but a fundamental law of nature. Known in the world of physics as the First Law of Thermodynamics, it establishes that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it is only transferred. How does this apply to what you eat? If you eat more calories than you use, you gain weight. Or if you take in fewer calories than you use, you lose weight. And if you eat as many calories as you burn, you will maintain the same weight.
In reality, all calories are not produced equally, and severe calorie-restricted diets can wear down your muscles, which can cause you to gain weight back. However, calories are an important factor and may be the sole determining factor of whether you are losing or gaining weight.
2. Good nutrition improves your appearance and your health
Not only should you look better with a good nutrition plan, but your blood chemistry should also improve. You should take before and after photos along with measurements to gauge your change in appearance, but seeing your doctor for a blood test is the way to tell if your health is improving. This way you make sure that your nutrition plan is also improving your health as well as your aesthetics.
3. Good nutrition pays off
“I don’t understand. I eat weas but I keep gaining weight.” I have news for you: you are not following a proper eating plan if you are not losing weight. Maybe your diet isn’t right for you, maybe your diet is good but you’re not following it right, or maybe your diet isn’t right for anyone. The fact of the matter is that a good nutrition program is one that provides results.
4. Good nutrition has flexibility
I call this the 90/10 rule. I’m on a pretty strict diet about 90% of the time, but the other 10% I cheat. Never having ice cream, drinking alcohol, or eating pizza is not my idea of a good time. Let’s face it: some of the things that are “bad” for you are also very tasty!
I encourage my clients to reward themselves with “cheat” meals each week. Knowing that you will eventually be able to eat something you want helps you stick to your nutrition plan. There’s also evidence that cheat meals can help with your results through a hormone called leptin.
CAVEAT! You may have to be very strict for several weeks (or even months) to start developing the new behaviors that will set you on the path to success. Another problem I see is that people think they cheat 10% of the time when they actually cheat more. Do not do that! As I mentioned earlier, if you’re not getting results, chances are you’re either not sticking to your program or your program isn’t good for you. Using a food diary is one way to make sure you know exactly what you’re eating. No need to weigh your food, just start writing things down.
The big takeaway here is that your nutrition plan should get you results, improve your looks and your health, and allow you some room to have some treats in the process. If not, something has to change!