With 50,000 results coming from searching "diet books" on Amazon.com, it's not surprising that so many people are confused about what they should be eating to lose weight and get healthy. Many people embark on fad diets without knowing how to tell if a diet plan is right for them or not. In this post, I'm going to share with you the principles that I believe all good nutrition programs should follow.
So let's get to 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 physics world as the First Law of Thermodynamics, it states that that energy cannot be created or destroyed, 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 less calories than you use, you lose weight. And if you take in as many calories as you burn, you will remain the same weight.
In reality all calories aren't made equally and severe calorie-restricted diets can waste away your muscles which can end up making you gain the weight back. However, calories are an important factor and can be the sole determinant of whether you are losing or gaining weight.
2. Good Nutrition Improves The Way You Look And Your Health
Not only should you look better from a good nutrition plan but your blood chemistry should improve as well. You should take before and after pictures along with measurements to measure your change in appearance but going to the your doctor to have your blood work done 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 Provides Results
"I don't understand. I eat we but I'm still gaining weight." I have news for you: you are not following an appropriate nutrition plan if you are not losing weight. Maybe your diet isn't right for you, maybe your diet is good but you are not following it well 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 eat a pretty strict diet about 90% of the time, but the other 10% I cheat. Never having ice cream, or 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 pretty tasty!
I encourage my clients to reward themselves every week with "cheat" meals. Knowing that you will eventually be able to eat something that you want helps with adhering to your nutrition plan. There's also evidence that cheat meals can help with your results via a hormone called leptin.
WARNING! You might have to be really strict for several weeks (or maybe even months) to get yourself started so you can develop the new behaviors that that will put you on the track to success. Another problem that I see is that people think they're cheating 10% of the time when they are actually cheating more. Don't do that! Like I mentioned above, if you aren't getting results, then most likely that you are not sticking to your program or your program isn't good for you. Using a food diary is one way to be sure you know exactly what you are eating. No need to weigh your food, just start writing things down.
The Take Away
The big take away here is that your nutritional plan should be getting you results, improving the way you look and your health and allow you some room to have some treats in the process. If it isn't, then something needs to change!