Five Fad Diets Demystified

It’s hard to believe we’re only (already ?!) two months into 2019 and there are already articles about the best/trendiest/most popular diets of the year.  Of course, these kinds of lists come out every year, and every year people jump on (and off) them.

Do any of these diets actually “work?”  Well, I guess that depends on how you define success.  Arguably, no, not in the long-term anyway, or else we wouldn’t be perpetuating a multi-billion dollar global diet industry.  But there’s always going to be someone, from an instagram “celebrity” to your brother-in-law’s uncle who SWEARS by XYZ diet, and is so fervent in their zeal that you start thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’s finally the diet FOR YOU, and maybe you should check it out.

Out of the “oodles” (that’s the scientific term) of diets out there, certain ones seem to surface and gain more vocal adherents more often than others.  This week, my Instagram video series and Facebook posts are looking at keto, paleo, plant-based eating, tracking macros and Intuitive Eating approaches.  I’ll give you the low-down on the WHAT of these diets, the pros, the cons and my verdict.

Let’s dive in for diet de-mystification (also a technical term, right?).

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The Top Five Reasons I Love Tracking Macros

Macros and I go back.  Way back.  In fact, I wrote one of my first posts about tracking macros over three years ago (July 11, 2015, to be exact), and it’s still a good read and I recommend it to get acquainted with the basics of what tracking your macros is all about.  At that point, I’d already been tracking extensively for several months.  This approach to diet/nutrition was a game-changer for me, so much so that I’ve continued to use it in pursuit of my goals on and off for the three years that have ensued since then.  In fact, I’ve taken ALL of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained and put it into my signature program, GAME YOUR GRAMS.  If you want to learn more about it, just e-mail me with the subject line “GAME MY GRAMS!”

I decided that three years is plenty long enough to re-visit and expand (and expound) even further on why I love tracking macros.  “Oh, tracking macros, how I love thee!  Let me count the ways…”  Guess how many reasons I came up with?  Did you come up with five?  (Did the title of this post give it away)?

Let’s discuss the five reasons why I love tracking macros (and why I think you will love it, too):

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How-To: Track Your Progress

Image source: http://northwrightcounty.today/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/scale-and-tape-measure1.jpgAs I mentioned in my How-To: Track Your Macros post, you’re going to get a wealth of information about your macronutrient intake.  But generally people are only going to put in that level of effort if they have a goal to achieve, in terms of physical performance and/or body composition.  And the very best goals are S.M.A.R.T goals: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely/time-oriented.  So, if you confer with your trusted health professional and decide that a realistic goal for you is to lose 10 lbs in 6 months, then you’ve covered off all of those attributes.  But you won’t know whether you’ve achieved that goal unless you MEASURE – in this case, you have to step on that damn scale!  You won’t know whether the actions you are taking (the input), such as eating a certain macronutrient ratio/target each day, are working as intended unless you look at the output.  And progress is multi-faceted – so the more measurements you take, the more you can see progress and successes in areas you might have otherwise missed by focusing on one measurement exclusively (i.e. only ever looking at the unchanging number on the scale without realizing that you’ve lost several inches by decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass and/or gotten noticeably stronger at back squats).

So, that’s my case for tracking progress.  If you’re a believer, follow along!

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How-To: Track Your Macros (IIFYM a.k.a. Flexible Dieting)

Image source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Sys5vdIVsJ4/Uh_StNxnLSI/AAAAAAAACwQ/-6XvxkVTZPk/s1600/fe480cea0cb211e3bd6322000a1fa42a_7.jpgAlright.  You’ve heard about it.  You’ve seen the acronym a few too many times, and far too many photos in your Instagram feed of “bikini athletes” mowing their way through deep-dish pepperoni pizzas as part of their show prep.  If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a food/nutrition/diet movement that looks at food at the macronutrient level: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. P-C-F, in IIFYM short-hand.

Image source: http://itsvmfitness.blogspot.kr/2013/08/a-closer-look-at-iifym-if-it-fits-your.htmlThere is no more “clean” food vs. “junk” food or “good” food vs. “bad” food.  No more cheat days or treat days; no “earning” carbs or calories.  Food is food.  From an apple to an anchovy, a chicken breast to a Cheez-It, all food is comprised of the same three basic macronutrients (yes, there are also micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals to consider, but we’ll worry about that later).  The idea is that your body needs a certain personalized ratio of these three macronutrients for optimal performance and body composition.  Figure this out and then make small changes over time and you can reap lasting changes in your strength, physique and body composition.

This post is NOT about figuring out YOUR personalized macronutrient ratios.  There are other websites for that and frankly, that can actually be the easy part.  The harder part (as always) is putting information into action and taking the steps to actually eat the desired/required macronutrients in the run of a day (or week).  The only way to know whether you’re actually doing this is to TRACK WHAT YOU ARE EATING.  Everything you’re eating and ALL of what you are eating.  THAT is what this post is about.

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