Spring is almost here and it’s time for what? More DIETS!

Why do I get the shivers every time I hear this word and is there another way to shave off the fat and look/feel better or are we destined to another season of self-sacrifices in order to put on our favorite swimsuit at the beach?

Very very important topic considering the temperatures outside… The moment, when we all have to bring out the skirts / tank tops from the closet is approaching! Oh no… 1-2 more months and it’s OVER, there is no time, we have to start LOSING WEIGHT now! Please hand me that delicious lettuce I enjoy indulging upon pre-summertime… :D

Ok, let’s start from the foremost annoying part. Think about it, we all have that one friend, who is eating mainly pizza, spaghetti, chocolates and sushi all at once (and not the boring Japanese style of sushi, the modern one that consists of pickles and fried chicken wings) and does not gain a pound! We all secretly hate this friend, and him, especially if it’s a guy, is doing his best to vacuum-eat everything he gets his hands upon, just to gain a pound or two. If it’s a woman, she pointedly orders an XL pizza with extra cheese and a brownie, while we are trying to separate the croutons off of our Cesar salad… where is the fairness in that? If we follow common sense logic, when we are eating more, we should be gaining weight and if we don’t, we should be losing, then why this injustice, what is the reason for this conspiracy? I will explain a bit more below where is the key to this annoying door hidden 😉

Bearing in mind that I have been around sports and martial arts circles – as a professional competitor – witness first hand of how extreme diets can become when we have to lose/gain weight to meet a certain category. But also deeply into the “fitness” circles as a person, who is trying to workout and coach at the same time and I must say, the topic about “diets” is one of the most important ones all over gyms and generally around people wanting to get into shape (especially at this time of the year)! I will have to admit, I have tried almost every nutrition plan that exists on our planet Earth and beyond 😀 You can see the main ones described below:

1. “The see food diet” – mainly consists of eating everything you see (without getting into too much thought about it, I just ate what I felt like eating). Since you are reading this article, one way or another, you have come to the conclusion that you need to look for a better option to “fuel your body”, and if you haven’t, you are now contemplating on doing it 😉 To be honest, my main drive was actually my appearance and the fact that I noticed how changing my eating habits, changed how my body looks like ( pretty superficial, but its a start 😉 )

  1. Low-carb High-fat diet – fatty meat, avocado and raw nuts to the point of crazy! And at the glance of a potato or a loaf of bread, I turned pale, rushing out of the room, so that I don’t get tempted and take a bite from something that will ruin my lifetime of work and dedication…
  1. Bodybuilding style (6 times a day) – I eat at exactly 6:28 in the morning, so that my last meal can take place at 21:28, 32 minutes before I go to bed! Every bite is measured diligently and I don’t leave the house without a lunch box; I spend 38 minutes in the restaurant, asking about the ingredients of the meals, whether the omelet I am planning to order is really prepared with the extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed by the feet of the virgin nymphs they are claiming to be using. How can I trust this waiter, his eyes don’t look honest enough to me?!

    ( Ok, this might be a bit exaggerated, but I really was a pain in the ass 😀 )

  2. Overeating (not always, but for me, mainly with healthy foods), followed by a long fast, caused by the guilt of stuffing my face with food like a pig 😀 My favorite time… after you start becoming a bit more interested in healthy eating, you most assuredly will go through that phase, because you know how every food affects your appearance in a certain way. When we start being too concentrated in that, we start eating only by the “diet”, that gives us the best outside appearance results. We know, that if we deviate by an inch, the fat will again start crawling around our waistlines and we will become those fatty versions of ourselves, which we would not dare to take to the beach with that annoying spaghetti-nutella guy who is constantly thin. Therefore, we are so focused on eating “strictly by the diet”, that when something emotional happens, we loose all control and rational thinking and we eat the leftovers from our boyfriend’s Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich which we always claimed to be the evil itself and how does he even eat such a fat bomb in the first place?
  1. Intermittent fasting (on a 16, 20, 24, 30-hour protocols1) – I am thinking about writing a separate article about this, but this nutrition plan has proven to be very beneficial to me, although I have avoided it like the plague for so many years. Actually, one of the people, who inspired me to try it out was Ines Subashka and her platform Inspired Fit Strong (http://inspiredfitstrong.com/ ) and her articles about intermittent fasting (and healthy eating as a whole, amazing person and a true inspiration!) I honestly believed, that with my super-intense and hard workouts, if I don’t eat for so many hours, I will get dizzy, my muscles will shrink and basically disappear, and someone will have to clean up the rest of my bones and blond hair off the floor with a vacuum cleaner! After which, by the time I can start eating again, I will eat the whole fridge and go back to the “The see food diet”

  1. The ketogenic diet (the diet consist of the following macro nutrient ratio: 80% fat, 15% protein, 5% carbs). Definitely has proven to have a lot of benefits, especially with people who are sedentary as a whole, not to mention the enormous positive effect on patients, suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and even cancer (more studies will need to be conducted on that, but the clinical trials appear very promising³). I have personally tried it for a while, but its way too restrictive for me and I am unable to maintain it long-term (the avocado-nuts low-carb diet already got the best of me when it came to those type of restrictions)
  1. Food combining diet with an end date (90 days, 2 months, 5 months, etc.) I am thinking about doing a separate article just for these type of “diets”, but I will just briefly say one thing… This was the “diet” experience that was the shortest of them all on my list of self-torturing alternatives 😀 I have all the rest of them at least a couple of months, even years of chances, but this one didn’t last for 2 weeks 🙂

I don’t have a thing against these “diets”, as long as people feel good while on it, and as long as they can sustain it long-term, and I must say I have not witnessed this happening up to this point. Every “diet” that has an end date attached to it, means that it can not be sustained for long as its too restrictive! This makes it one of the diets, from which we gain the lost pounds back pretty quickly or get us sick!

And here is the part where my favorite comment comes in and which I’ve heard for like 238 times: “Ok, but Kathy from the office was on the Combine food diet, the IFBB pro diet etc. and lost 30 pounds, I could barely recognize her, she was so thin!”

Let me tell you a SECRET, and with it, let me also ruin my chances of charging you 300$ for super-duper-hyper individualized online nutrition plan, made by almost every average bodybuilder – since the sole fact that you lost all of these pounds and have an amazing six-pack and before/after photos, this automatically makes you an expert in the field and you know EVERYTHING! The fact that this “expert” knows only how much you weigh, whether you are eating meat or not, whether you workout and how much weight you want to lose, isn’t really important, it’s all numbers! 🙂

And the secret is… that to be realistic, you can lose weight on EACH AND EVERY NUTRITION PLAN there is, as long as we stay into a calorie deficit! This means that you need to be spending more calories than you are consuming (if we take the calorie as an objective unit of measure, although it most definitely is not, however, due to lack of more objective one, its vastly used by the fitness and health industry). Its not “rocket science” – an expression I am tempted to use in my language as well, although there are many Bulgarian alternatives to it, but I love it so much! Of course you will lose weight while on every diet/nutrition plan as long as you are in a negative calorie balance, even if you are consuming just potatoes or doughnuts, but the key question here is: What exactly are you losing? Have you ever thought about that? What do we lose when we lose weight? I will give you a hint… It’s either muscle or fat. And what do we lose while on a potato/doughnut diet… mainly muscle!

Ok then, what is the big deal with that, isn’t the most important thing to just lose the extra weight? A comment I hear from many women at the gyms and not only: “I don’t need muscles, I’m not a guy after all, I don’t want to look manly!” or “I just need to tone up my arms a little bit and whatever I do I can’t tighten up my butt, how do I do that?!”

The problem is that muscle is not just the thing we flex for our gym selfie, the muscle is what maintains our body healthy and strong, and as long as the muscle is maintained active and healthy, we ourselves will be active and healthy!

But ok, lets give the potatoes and selfies a break, why are we constantly mentioning them as the evil itself, mainly responsible for our love handles… potatoes are an amazingly nutritious food, rich in all kinds of important micro-nutrients! ( can’t think of anything good to say about the selfie 😀 )

And also, which self-respected bodybuilder will advise you to eat potatoes of a Food combining diet as a whole? Nobody!

To be fair, most average (of course there are many good professionals out there as well, not pointing any fingers towards bodybuilders as a whole) of these diets will be based of the following principles:

  1. If the client wants to lose fat and get shredded for the summer, carbs, different than veggies will need to go to 0, if present at all, they will be present only after a hard workout

  2. If the client wants to gain mass, they will need to start taking a gainer and start eating as much as they can, while working-out with heavy loads on low reps

  3. If the client just wants to lose weight and climb the stairs to the office, we use strategy number 1, but just not that extreme

  4. All meals are based around chicken, eggs, broccoli, salad and the now trending quinoa, chia and goji berry 🙂

Ok then, this is clear now, potatoes and doughnuts are carbs, so if we eat just the chicken and broccoli, everything should be ok, right? Protein and veggies?

Not really! The problem is not in the potatoes, doughnuts or the pizza, and not in the chicken with broccoli! The problem is that we always go to an extreme and we concentrate on only one food or on an “approved list” of foods (which I mentioned above). I have followed the main nutrition plans in the fitness industry and have had great results on the outside, but they were temporary and I did not feel good in general, I only liked how I looked without clothes on! This is the time to underscore something… I have always had a very strong immune system as a whole and have had the luck not becoming too obese or anorexic or sick because of the poor nutrition choices I made. However, I bragged around about not getting sick and being so strong etc. when I was hit by a viral meningitis about 6-7 months ago 😉

This why I will reveal another secret now… Most of the times, those types of restrictive diets are the reason for that Yo-Yo effect that kicks in after the summer goes away. Every time we restrict our bodies from something that it needs, it will sooner or later catch up to us, one way or another. And usually, the ways are the following:

  • Slow metabolism and extreme weight gain

  • General weakness and loss of energy, not just for training, but for living in general

  • Depression, unexplained extreme hunger and uncontrolled overeating

  • Immune system breakdown and disease

For me, the best nutrition plan is, can you guess which one? The one, that you are willing to stick to for the long run, and the one that gives you the results you want (doesn’t matter if you eat meat, potatoes, chia or quinoa)!

Ok then, which is this “diet” after all? Why are we writing this long article and at the end.. NOTHING! Why did I read ’till the end?! What happened to that friend on the spaghetti-nutella diet, how come he doesn’t gain weight? HOW COME?

Let me guess, without using my magic 8-ball… This friend is usually a guy (but there are a lot of women with this destiny as well), he is max 27-28 years old and his job requires a lot of movement throughout the day. In addition, he is often sick/ has a lot of injuries/ can’t sleep/has low overall conditioning and energy… Did I get it right?

The facts are the facts, every person is so different and they really need time and individualization in order to find his/her own best nutrition and movement plan (and I am not just talking about training, every type of movement, that we enjoy, because without it, even the best nutrition plan will not give the best results). Everyone is looking for the easy way, to stay on the surface, no one wants to dive deeper, because we are always BUSY and DON’T HAVE THE TIME and this is not a priority for us right now… And this is why all of these restrictive diets will always be popular! But being realistic, this little effort, that we will invest in getting to know ourselves (with the help and guidance of a good coach and a nutritionist), will return our investment 100 times with good health, good overall conditioning, energy, strong immune system, which does not succumb to disease often, high quality sleep and overall recovery. And this will all combine with the ROCKING HOT BODY that we dream about!

I beg you! If you are not a professional athlete following a short-term goal, which puts your career at stake (the more you are lucky enough for this to be controlled by a good professional nutritionist and a coach, the better), do not compromise your health in favor of looking good! You will simply suffer and you’ll be sorry you did it. There is another way, just everything worth investing in comes slowly and gradually, but the pleasure from achieving it is much greater than anything else!

Used literature and inspiration materials:

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