Written by Immortal Fitness Studios Stockton Heath Warrington and Bromley Cross Bolton
coach Alex J P Higham
SUSTAINABLE RESULTS THROUGH MODERATION, AND 6 EASY STEPS TO FOLLOW:
Sustainable results checklist
Any diet you do needs to be something you can follow for the rest of your life… Not just in the short-term.
Your desired results won’t be maintained and sustained in the short- term but can only be achieved when you look at the bigger picture (long term). This means the eating strategy you intend to follow, needs to be for the long-term… Not just a 4-week fad diet or programme.
1) BALANCED NUTRITION
This means a balanced ratio of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats… This doesn’t mean cutting out carbs or living on fats… Or drinking juice plus 5 times a day!
Nor does this mean that all of your nutrients need to be in perfect balance (moderation is key).
Balanced nutrition ensures you are getting all of your nutrients, keeping your energy level high, and allows you to achieve sustainable results and progress.
E.g. There is roughly the same amount of calories in an apple as a chocolate bar but a tiny fraction of the nutrients.
Most traditional diets are unsustainable, and can’t be maintained for the long term. This is because they lack the proper amount of calories, nutrients, or a combination of both.
There are some diets out there that recommend 500-800 calories, with a side of supplements. These are very unhealthy, unsustainable, and even dangerous, and will wreck your metabolism.
Ask yourself this before you follow a diet: can I follow this diet for the next 10 years? If the answer is no, then you need to move on and find another plan.
A sustainable diet also leaves room for things like treats and flex meals. Flex meals or free meals are meals that allow you to go on your diet and each food you enjoy and aren’t unhealthy (in moderation).
I prefer to use the term “flexible meal”, rather than the common term ‘cheat meal’, as there is a more neutral and positive meaning, as opposed to “cheat” meal which can imply and trigger a negative feeling for some people, because they feel they are “cheating” themselves or the diet.
3) OPTIMIZE ENERGY
A diet must optimize and enhance energy over the long term.
Most traditional diets reduce energy to the point you are feeling lethargic, sluggish, and fatigued all day. This is almost always because of the low carb intake, low calories, and/or lack of nutritional balance.
Food and more specifically carbohydrates are fuel and need to be treated as such.
Low fuel = low energy = low performance. FACT!
4. SLOW WEIGHT LOSS!!
If your goal is weight loss, then whatever diet you follow needs to promote “slow” weight loss.
When it comes to losing weight and body fat, slower is always better (and almost always more sustainable). When you lose weight slowly, you are less likely to lose muscle and will lose a higher percentage of fat, which is important for optimizing metabolism.
Secondly, the majority of research shows slow weight loss is sustainable weight loss. This means that if you lose weight slowly over time, your are more likely to keep it off over time too. This is because you are able to develop the necessary eating and lifestyle habits to keep your results. Don’t let that discourage you because 2 things are important to remember here:
You will build muscle and lose fat some weeks, especially at the start. So inches will be lost, but scale weight may not be. Always remember that results over the long term are important to look at. So while weight loss may not happen every week, what matters is what happens over the longer time frame.
5. OPTIMIZE STRENGTH AND FITNESS
We know food = fuel. Proper fuel allows us to have greater energy but also gives us the ability to work out and exercise at greater intensities.
One of the most important variables in your workout needs to be intensity.
Traditional low calorie – low carb diets decrease strength and fitness, workout intensity, and overall performance.
If your diet isn’t providing you with the ability to work out with the proper intensity and improve strength/fitness then it needs to go!!
6. OPTIMIZE METABOLISM
Most diets destroy metabolism, as opposed to enhancing in.
Low calories, coupled with low carbohydrates is always a recipe for a metabolic disaster/dysfunction and down-regulation.
Numerous research studies have shown that too low calories followed for far too long can lead to a reduction of the metabolic rate of at least 30%… (which isn’t good and can lead to fluctuation of water retention, fat storage, and unbalanced hormones).
This creates a significant impact on your ability to lose weight, both in the short and long-term. Not only will you need to work harder to lose more weight, your metabolism will decrease even more, as you lose more weight.
Following a balanced diet, and one with a small calorie deficit (provided weight loss is your goal) works for optimizing metabolism. And as you get further into the journey, you may need to cycle calories, and alternate between lower calorie days (small deficits), and higher calorie days (small surplus) to continue losing weight and optimizing a healthy metabolism.
So remember, if you are planning to follow a diet, then it needs to follow these 6 things to help your long-term health, well being, weight loss and metabolic health.