It’s that time of year when the gym is packed shoulder to shoulder with sweaty newbies getting on their fitness grind. Instagram is flooded with fitness models promoting their workout and meal plans, geared towards those who want to whip into shape. Spring break and summer are approaching rapidly, and for many people weight loss is on the mind.
Every year, a new diet surfaces that promotes a restricted way of eating in the goal of shedding excess fat. From paleo to carb-free to the newest craze, the ketogenic diet, it seems like the market for weight loss is constantly shapeshifting. It can be hard to keep up.
What some may not tell you is that these diets all have one thing in common – they limit the amount of food you can eat on a daily basis.
While admittedly these diets can work phenomenally for some people, it isn’t because they only consume avocados and lean meat. It’s because these diets cause them to reduce daily calorie intake.
Ultimately there are two ways to lose fat – eat less or move more. Depending on your BMI, average daily activity and muscle mass there is an amount of calories you need to maintain your weight. If weight loss is your goal, you must increase the ratio between calories in and calories out.
For most, a mixed approach is best and most efficient in achieving their goal bikini bod. This would entail reducing calorie intake slightly and exercising more.
Notice that there is no food you need to cut out, no magical secret that all athletes know and no skinny tea that will give you the body of your dreams. What these “fad” diets teach is that eating certain calories over others will make you lose weight more quickly.
Yet, at the end of the day a calorie is just that, a calorie.
Even so, most find that a well-structured diet with high protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats makes eating in a caloric deficit more filling and maintainable long term. While these “fad” diets may not be the secret to weight loss, most of them cut out processed foods, which are often high in unhealthy fats, sugar content and sodium.
If you want to lose weight in preparation of bikini season you could get there by eating pizza and donuts, sure. As long as your caloric input is less than your daily output you will still lose fat.
But is that the most satisfying and healthy way? Absolutely not.
It’s been said time and time again, but moderation and consistency is key to health.
It is equally as unsustainable to have a diet only of processed foods and only of completely “clean” foods. As long as the unhealthy foods are kept in moderation, it isn’t a crime to satisfy a craving. So yeah, have a cookie. Just not every day.
Keep in mind that in the long-run, those foods high in micronutrients will make you feel more energized, better satisfy hunger and make your skin and hair happy and healthy. A well-balanced diet paired with moderate exercise a few times a week can quickly change your body, and make you feel confident striding down the beach.
While Instagram and social media may make exercise seem strenuous and impossible for those not already ultra-fit, don’t be fooled. Find an activity that you love, whether it’s walking your dog, lifting weights or playing ultimate frisbee.
So, no. You don’t need to jog for an hour on the treadmill or never go out for a meal with friends again. You can up your health game without these drastic (and unsustainable) changes. Keep it consistent and you’re golden.