It’s much simpler to manage your weight and health through diet alone – people often overthink and overcomplicate this which is fair enough giving all of the misinformation that is being pushed around the health and fitness industry these days!
The main problem or misconception is that too many people focus on ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ creating a factor of restriction on certain foods and thus leading to a poor relationship with food.
However, inclusive dieting (meaning that including your favourite foods rather than restricting them) has been proven time and time again to be more beneficial, more sustainable and also produce better results for long term weight management (Ramage et al., 2014).
With rates of overweight and obesity increasing worldwide, there is an increased need for effective weight loss and weight management in order for people to implement these protocols and make effective changes for themselves and their own wellbeing.
Looking at diets in a collective perspective, they all have one thing in common which allows them to work; the all elicit a caloric deficit!
So, what is a calorie deficit exactly and why does it work?
A calorie deficit is the term used to identify when there are more calories OUT and less calories IN. This can be achieved by 1 of 3 ways:
- Reduce the number of CALORIES IN
- Increase the number of CALORIES OUT
- A combination of both 1&2
If you elicit a calorie deficit, you enter a state of catabolism – this is where the body breaks down complex molecules into smaller ones. Too much of a catabolic state causes you to not only break down the complex molecules of adipose tissue (fatty tissue) but also break down muscular tissue.
So, how can we lose fat but keep muscle?
We do this by controlling the range of the deficit so that you can enter a catabolic state but only just – this allows us to reduce body fat and help maintain as much muscle tissue as possible. Too much of an aggressive deficit causes you to be ‘too catabolic’, causing you to breakdown not just fatty tissue but also muscle tissue also (Aragon et al., 2014).
Following a flexible diet (such as IIFYM) allows you to control your deficit and limit the level of severity your caloric deficit may be, depending on your goal and the time frame – the over all goal should be long term – whether you’re looking to reduce body fat or gain lean mass – following a diet protocol at a more sustainable rate over a longer period of time will always yield a higher quality end result. If you are looking for a quick fix and to lose 10 lbs of weight in 10 days, this is not going to be sustainable and you will continue to yo-yo and be stuck in parley with your weight management and body goals (Johnstone, 2015).