There are so many diets out there that it can be hard to determine which is the right one for you and your goals. But in actuality, dieting doesn’t need to be that complicated. Following a simple set of rules can make any diet successful— and knowing what the rules are is the first step to success. Apply these five rules to any diet that you are following to ensure a successful journey!
1. You Must Eat Less
Some diets may focus less on calorie counting, but the truth is you must eat less if you really want to lose weight. Losing weight starts with a simple calorie deficit. You can create a deficit by simply eating less total food, or by exercising more. A deficit of 500 calories per day over the course of one week is 3,500 calories, or one pound of fat! The more of a deficit you create, the more weight loss you will experience.
How do you know if you are eating less? Calories should be set between 10 to 12 times your bodyweight, depending on how much weight you need to lose and how much activity you do on a daily basis. Don’t just consider your exercise routine, but also the exercise you do outside of the gym— for instance if you walk to work, take the stairs or are active in your daily job.
Although some people don’t like the word structure when it comes to diet, every successful diet has some. Even flexible diets have structure. Whether it’s the amount of calories you are eating or the amount of each macronutrient you are taking in, these are parameters that will lead to success. By keeping track of what you are eating, including calories and the amount of protein, carbs and fats, you can make appropriate adjustments when something is not going right. Structure to a diet plan can also ensure that you stick with it.
3. More Protein, Healthy Fats and Fiber
As a general rule, follow a diet that provides at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein from lean sources that are high in all the essential amino acids, including poultry, whole eggs, lean cuts of red meat and non-fat dairy like whey protein. Protein is a necessary nutrient for building muscle, maintaining muscle and assisting in recovery. It is also highly thermogenic, which means eating it actually burns calories!
Many people think they should skip over the fat when it comes to a diet, but this is far from the truth. Fat is essential for balancing hormones and can even play a role in helping preserve muscle.
Lastly, a good diet will have a whole of lot of fiber. Fiber from fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains is important for maintaining a healthy gut, and removing toxins from the body. Diets that are high in fiber can also help reduce appetite and blood sugar levels. Most successful diets focused on building a lean body provide about 40 to 50 percent protein, 30 to 20 percent carbs and 30 to 20 percent fats.
4. Eliminate the Junk Food
The occasional cheat on junk food is a given when it comes to any diet, but the majority of the time junk food should be eliminated. Junk food doesn’t provide good nutrition because it’s loaded in sugar, fat or both, and not much of anything else, so it’s easy to see why junk food should not be included as part of your diet.
If you are new to following a structured, clean eating plan, don’t go cold turkey! Instead, ease off your bad eating ways by eliminating the junk food slowly. Limit yourself to once per week. Come your cheat day, don’t go overboard and eat back all the calories you eliminated. Instead, pick one or two of your favorites, or one cheat meal.
By giving yourself a treat here and there, you will be less likely to go off your diet completely, and feel much more satisfied with your new diet plan. It’s also been shown that the occasional bad eating can help increase your metabolism and keep it from down-regulating. This is called “adaptive thermogenesis,” which is when your body gets accustomed to the low calories you are eating and starts to plateau, slowing your metabolism and storing or maintaining your body in the same state. Busting out of this plateau can be as easy as having the occasional cheat meal, so don’t be scared to give in every once in a while.
5. Maintenance Plan for Life
The ideal diet should essentially become a way of life. It shouldn’t be so restrictive that it’s difficult to stick to or it makes it hard to maintain your results. When you first start on any diet plan, you will need to eat less and be restrictive with your choices, but once you have reached your ideal weight, it is possible to eat a little more.
Remember that if you were dieting for a show, it probably will not be possible to maintain your top conditioning 365 days per year, but you should aim to maintain your weight within 10 pounds. Slowly start to add calories back into your diet— this is often been called “reverse dieting.” By making slow adjustments you will be less likely to fall off your plan completely and fall back into old habits. Aim for eating calories at about 12 to 15 times your new bodyweight, based again on your activity level and your new metabolic rate.