Diet Trends have always been a popular topic in the fitness industry. But how do you know what is the right approach? What’s best for you and your lifestyle? With so much information out there, it can be confusing to really know what is the best choice for you.
The key to success is choosing methods that you will be able to sustain for a long time. Below I outline the top weight loss trends that actually WORK.
Intuitive eating is exactly what it sounds like- only eating by your intuition and only when you are hungry. No counting calories. No weighing of your food. Just strictly listening to your body and practicing a good amount of old school self control.
Clean eating is not only eating "healthy" but also removing all processed foods and limiting the amount of chemicals in your diet that comes from them. These people tend to eat a lot of veggies, have a good amount of healthy fats and lean protein and basically eat as natural as possible. There is not a clear-cut definition of what Clean Eating is but it boils down to focusing on nutrient-dense food groups. These people tend to read labels to ensure the foods they are consuming have minimal ingredients and zero chemicals. You will not find these people going for “low fat” or “sugar free” foods as these common “diet” foods are typically loaded with chemicals and artificial flavorings.
People who follow intermittent fasting typically don't eat for a period of time but continue drinking water and then have a period of non-‐fasting. There is no definitive way to practice this type of eating (meaning you can fast in the morning or at night, it's up to the individual). There are no foods off limits- the focus is more so on when you can eat versus what you can eat. The idea is when you fast you decrease the time you have during the day to consume the given amount of calories for your body and goals.
If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)
IIFYM is basically the idea of eating any food source (whether nutrient dense or not) as long as it fits into your overall macronutrient goal. People who follow this guide don't really stress what foods will get them to their nutrition goals. They just stress staying within their designated macro limits. For example, a bowl of steal-cut oatmeal and a plain bagel are both primarily made up of carbs. The oatmeal may have additional vitamins and fiber that is beneficial, but if the primary focus is weight loss, then it does not matter whether you get your carbs from that bowl of oatmeal or from a bagel. As long as the macronutrient goals are met, you are in good shape.
Vegetarians don't eat meat. Wherever their motives come from, these people do not eat anything derived from an animal. This includes meat, poultry and fish. Typically, American's eat way too much red meat so people who do follow this method tend to have lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity. The biggest concern for these people come from the lack of protein in their diet. A lot of vegetarians have to rely on beans, broccoli, lentils and soy to make sure they are still hitting their target protein range from day to day.
Vegans consume no animal food or dairy products whatsoever. The core difference between vegetarians and vegans is that vegans will not consume ANYTHING from an animal- this includes milk and eggs. They even go as far as not wearing things like fur from animals. If you are choosing to go the vegan route, I recommend looking into certain vitamin supplements to make sure you are still getting enough micronutrients found predominantly in animal based foods (i.e vitamin B12 and iron).
You may have heard of the Paleo diet referred to as the "caveman diet." That's because you take it way back and literally eat like a caveman would back in the day. This diet has a lot of fish, grass fed meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Paleo peeps generally avoid things like grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. The Paleo diet emphasizes that true health and wellness is found in a diet that mirrors those of our ancestors. If a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither should we!
Gluten Free or Dairy Free
Gluten is a mixture of two proteins found in wheat endosperm and is typically found in wheat, cereal grains, barley, rye, oats, beans, cabbage, turnips and cucumbers. A gluten free diet is used to treat the now very common Celiac’s disease. People with CD typically are very sensitive to gluten and a lot of the times when they eat it they experience moderate to severe stomach discomfort. When they cut gluten, things seem to work perfectly. Some people claim that gluten is bloating and their bodies tend to run better without it. The same goes for dairy. A dairy free diet has zero dairy- this includes milk, ice cream, cream, eggs, etc. People who choose to not eat dairy often say it decreases bloating and helps with improvements in their complexion.
Carb cycling is exactly what it sounds like- the cycling of your carbs throughout the day. Sometimes weeks. Some people get great results from this and you will often see people not eating carbs late at night or only pre and post workout. People may also practice the low carb/high carb method for a longer period of time like days or sometimes weeks. The reason for this is because your body uses up muscle glycogen and burns body fat when you do not eat carbs.
When combined with training, individuals will typically pair their high carb days when training full body or larger muscle groups such as legs, while moderate carb days will be paired with training days working smaller muscle groups (arms for example), and low carb days will be followed when taking a rest day from training.
Reverse dieting is when an individual adds in more calories into their diet in a controlled and premeditated fashion. The idea is that by slowly increasing the amount of calories, (most of the time coming from carbs and fats), the metabolism adapts and adjusts to the increase in food without storing fat. This is known as increasing your BMR. (Basal metabolic rate). Once you increase your BMR, your body becomes more efficient at burning calories simply at rest. Reverse dieting is a slow process, but when done right, the person can break through plateaus and in the end they will be able to eat a significant larger amount of food on a daily basis then before. #WIN. Reverse dieting is a long term investment because results don't happen over night.
The benefit of having a high metabolic capacity (higher ability to eat more food) is that when you decide to lean out and your body is already accustomed to processing a higher amount of calories, you will likely not have to drop super low in calories in order to get the results that you want.