“How long is your diet?”
These five words are the biggest impediment to maintaining your desired level of fitness.
At Hack Your Fitness, we live by one unshakable rule of diet and nutrition:
You are making a lifestyle change, not a temporary adjustment.
Despite what the latest fad diet would have you believe, proper nutrition doesn’t adhere to a timeframe, nor does it take a vacation during the summer or around the holidays.
Results simply don’t last when you drop a diet and go back to eating like you did before.
In this article, we’re going to dispel the other diet myths you believe, lay the foundation for a healthy eating lifestyle, and deliver you the Hack Your Fitness approved diet plan.
You Can Lose Weight Eating Junk Food (But You Won’t)
Let’s state the obvious: Changing the way you eat for life is freaking difficult.
Somewhere along the way, maybe after your third straight day eating chicken breast for lunch, you might be tempted to jump ship for the diet that claims your six-pack can come with a steady supply of pizza, burgers, and milkshakes.
But don’t believe that bullshit for one second.
These fad diets are propped up by a fitness marketing monster that’s focused on taking your money—and capitalizing on your desire for fast, easy results—rather than improving your fitness.
The Law of Energy Balance (or calories in vs. calories out) tells us you can lose weight while eating junk food. We covered this law before on the blog, but let’s recap it here:
- If you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight.
- If you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight.
So it’s possible to lose weight while eating junk food, but those results won’t last.
To understand why, let’s look at the Law of Food Choice.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
The caloric density of junk food is what kills your diet. The calories in one large slice of pizza is roughly equivalent to half-pound of lean chicken tenderloin, a baked potato, and a plate of vegetables.
When you’re working out and you’re on a caloric deficit, you want to feel satiated after each meal. If you don’t feel that way, you’ll be craving a snack two hours later.
If you’re dealing with cravings consistently, you’re eventually going to cave.
Of those two options listed above, which one is most likely to fill you up?
A good way to visualize your calories for the day is to picture it as a daily budget. You goal should be to “spend” calories on food items throughout the day and remain full while staying within your budget.
The best way to do that is to eat natural foods that are less dense calorically than junk food.
Not only will you fuel your body for workouts, but you’ll feel like you’re eating way more than you ever have before. My clients always say, “Are you sure I’m supposed to eat this much food? I’m stuffed!”
Yes! That’s the beauty of making the right food choices.
I’m including a guide with “good” and “bad” foods below to guide your dietary decision making.
Carbs and Fat Are Not Bad for You
Another cornerstone of a dietary lifestyle change is understanding that you need all three macronutrients— protein, carbs, and fat—in your diet to fuel your fitness:
- Protein: Helps replace old cells build muscles
- Carbs: Your body’s preferred energy source
- Fat: Provides energy and protection for vital organs
The key to a healthy diet is not avoiding carbs or fat, but finding the right balance of these macronutrients to compliment your protein intake, which will be high.
When you’re on a caloric restriction and you’re lifting heavy, start with this split:
- 40% of your daily calories from protein.
- 30% from fat and 30% from carbs.
A couple words of caution as you’re considering your macronutrient balance.
First, at double the caloric density of carbs and protein, fat will creep up quickly if you’re not careful. Use the food guide above to find good fats for your diet.
Second, eat complex carbohydrates (i.e. baked potato or brown rice) with your protein.
When eaten with protein, complex carbs feed your muscles the protein over a longer period, which helps with muscle development and feeling satiated after meals.
You Have to Enjoy Eating
A lifestyle change is never going to stick if you dread eating.
While your days of eating pizza and burgers every day are gone, you can still find tasty meals that fill you up and are worth getting excited about.
Consult the food guide, try some different combinations out, and stay the course.
I promise the results are worth the effort if you remain committed to this lifestyle change.