There is a reason that there is so much contradictory information. Well, 2 reasons actually…
The first is that it is relative to the person receiving the information.
The brain distorts and changes information regarding the foods you eat, how much you think you ate, how much that is in relation to another person. This makes things more complicated. See our previous article on “Why you may be struggling with motivation”.
Nutrition is not so much a question of calories macronutrients or sugar vs fat but more about our perceptions about food and how accurately our brain processes information regarding our own eating habits
In our experience, people can have very strong beliefs about food. So saying to one person “just eat as and when you feel hungry” will be an effective management strategy whereas another person processes that information to mean something else entirely.
Our brains actually create our reality based on our beliefs, biases, and conditioning so it is impossible to see our own blindspots without the assistance of another person we trust to have our best interests at heart.
The second reason is that lots of different things do actually work – there is no one answer.
Fasting can work vs eating frequently can work.
Eating once per day or eating 6x per day both actually work for different people which is why your eager fitness professional who has tried one or the other can find a scientific research paper somewhere to back both of these seemingly opposing strategies up.
Paleo can work vs red and green days.
Greatly reducing one macronutrient or switching between macronutrients on different days have been shown to work
The list goes on…
It is more about finding what works for you, and importantly what works for you long term.
A lot of food plans work for some time but then the daily practices are not sustainable?
It is not so much a question of what will work, rather what do you want your daily routine to be like around your nutrition, and are you happy with the benefits and costs balance this approach provides?
There is a benefit and a cost to any approach, it is about whether you can accept the associated costs and benefits.
If you are unhappy with your current situation then you will need a plan of some sort, a strategy.
There is one principle that underpins a successful strategy.
We will call it the PRE…principle!
They are Pre-meditated – you consider what you will eat sometime before you eat it.
It is Pre-pared – not always necessarily by you but someone somewhere has prepared the type of food that will do you some good.
You have Pre-dictable patterns of behaviour around your food.
This does require discipline, which to some of us is a dirty word, but as Jocko Willink, ex Navy Seal points out in his field manual.
“Discipline Equals Freedom”
Apply some premeditated thought around your food, ensure that it is prepared for you and follow some predictable patterns of behaviour and you will gain reasonable control over your body mass and energy levels.
This all creates consciousness and awareness (not an obsession) around food that allows us to keep track and measure an approach, and what you measure, you can manage.
We are the first to agree that there is no need to create an obsessive attitude around food, but there is a difference between obsessing and measuring for some time to allow yourself to make good decisions.
We often don’t like to create rules around food because we have so many other jobs elsewhere, at work, at home, etc.
Nevertheless, discipline is the price of success in this area of life as in others. You have to be willing to set small, realistic rules (often the smaller the better) that you are able to follow based on your current lifestyle.
We often see people making the rules way too difficult and even out of balance with the kind of lifestyle that they actually want to live.
An example of this type of rule is “I just need to stop eating crap!”. A rule like that seems simple but would actually take a lot of preparation to ensure the correct foods were available as of today and disregards that with our stressful lifestyles some “crap” is a survival mechanism.
Don’t set yourself a goal of the body mass of an elite level athlete or cover model who is willing to eat broccoli for breakfast weighed to the gram and forego any pleasure around food for 12 weeks to get in shape if you like to drink alcohol a few times a week and love getting takeout on the weekends.
Especially don’t set this kind of goal if you have a job, kids, spouse, or a hobby you enjoy with your friends because it will cost you most of that.
The first step is to get clear on what the cost of your ideal body weight is by looking at the daily requirements.
John Berardi at Precision Nutrition has made this easy.
Check out the graphic below to see what you would have to let yourself in for day to day for the varying levels of fat loss.
Ask yourself what are you really willing to do day in day out, not what do I want to look like when comparing yourself to a picture of someone else.
It is worth noting that the environmental conditions that lead to healthy weight loss are usually a bi-product of a goal that is not just about weight loss.
There is a bigger reason or “Why” behind it beyond just wanting to look a bit better. No matter how much we think we want to look better or get that 6 pack, the reality is that to most of us that do not excite or motivate us on a deep emotional level.
To find out what might excite you to greater goals read our “What is your why?” article.
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