To Eat Or Not To Eat The Brownie, Is It Even A Question?
These days we are surrounded by IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and flexible dieters in the fitness industry posting pictures of desserts while still aching their goals.
So that begs the question, can ‘I’ eat like that?
Points You'll Takeaway:1. Every now then you can choose to enjoy some processed sugars in moderation.
2. Education on calories, nutrients and food choices is obviously required to understand your nutritional needs before adopting a flexible approach.
3. A weight loss diet should always be enjoyable, and easy to sustain, yes there will be times when it gets tough but that’s the nature of the beast.
4. One piece of cake is not going to ruin your diet, just the same as one salad will not make you achieve your target body weight over night. Its consistency with a calories controlled diet that will make you achieve this!
I will admit that I do follow a flexible dieting approach where no food is off limits. Like everything in life, you’ll have to moderate your indulgence. I track my macronutrients, pro/carbs/fat, and I to consume a wide variety of foods with majority of my calories (approx 80%) from whole nutrient dense foods, getting sufficient micronutrients and fibre each day.
But every now then I choose to enjoy some processed sugars in moderation, like bakewell tarts or chocolate pudding and chocolate custard. Of course someone is going to read this and say ‘you’re telling people to eat junk food every day!’
No, that’s not what I said, so don’t take it out of context. I said you can eat it in moderation and you won’t suffer any adverse effects, and that’s absolutely true. Of course, ones belief on what is healthy or nutritious will vary from person to person and that is why knowing what your actual overall dietary needs are and using a variety of foods to meet these needs leads to a nutritionally compete diet rather than a diet that is based around good and bad food with no control over calories or macronutrients. Sure you could track a diet that labels food, but I guarantee that due to the limited food types available the diet will be still lacking in variety and enjoyment.
I have not always been lean and strong, as I was overweight at certain stages through my childhood due to the love of chocolate, so a flexible eating approach works well for me.
So could this approach work for you and why?
In my opinion it can work for anyone, however, prior education on calories, nutrients and food choices is obviously required. Complete food restriction, when dieting, is a huge mistake and is more likely going to lead to you chucking the towel in on dieting or regaining the weight once you have reached your target weight. As with any diet, success only comes with adherence (1) and following a flexible approach has been shown to have higher success rates when compared to a riding diet. (2-4)
Obviously if weight loss if your goal calories will have to be restricted. Whether this is done counting macronutrients and calories or from following a low carb or low fat diet, it doesn't matter. There are many other approaches to controlling calories without counting them - check out my last article
A weight loss diet should always be enjoyable, and easy to sustain, yes there will be times when it gets tough but that’s the nature of the beast. In my eyes a flexible approach to dieting will set you up for success, no cravings for the foods you love, no binges, no feelings of withdrawal, no over restrictions and no feelings of guilt.
It is for this reason that many FAD diets fail because they are not sustainable, enjoyable, and are too restrictive on a persons lifestyle. They come with long lists of ‘good/bad’ foods and the do/don’ts of the diet. There will be the odd person that can follow these type of diets with success but results have shown most people can not succeed following these type of diets.
Is There A Best Diet?
Unfortunately the answer is no, there is no magic or right way to losing weight. It just comes down to sticking to a eating routine that controls calories, consistently.
Every diet works as long as the individual adheres to them.
So when ever you start any diet always ask yourself, ‘“can I see myself eating more or less the same food choices what I am today a year down the line?’
If the answer is ‘no,’ then your diet is probably not sustainable nor enjoyable.
Diet adherence has been shown to be an important aspect of any diet for success, (5) and whether it is low carb, high carb, paleo, atkins, keto diet etc. weight loss differences are minuscule and no diet is better than the other. (6)
We all know that a diet should be filled full of nutrient dense foods such as lean meats, oily fish, fruit and vegetable, and fats. But also remember that one piece of cake is not going to ruin your diet, just the same as one salad will not make you achieve your target body weight over night. Its consistency and patience in the long run that will make you achieve this!
1. Alhassan S1, Kim S, Bersamin A, King AC, Gardner CD. Dietary adherence and weight loss success among overweight women: results from the A TO Z weight loss study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Jun;32(6): 985-91.
2. Smith CF1, Williamson DA, Bray GA, Ryan DH. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite. 1999 Jun;32(3):295-305.
3. Westenhoefer J1, Engel D, Holst C, Lorenz J, Peacock M, Stubbs J, Whybrow S, Raats M. Cognitive and weight-related correlates of flexible and rigid restrained eating behaviour. Eat Behav. 2013 Jan;14(1):69-72.
4. Westenhoefer J1, Stunkard AJ, Pudel V. Validation of the flexible and rigid control dimensions of dietary restraint. Int J Eat Disord. 1999 Jul; 26(1):53-64.
5. Dansinger ML1, Gleason JA, Griffith JL, Selker HP, Schaefer EJ. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2005 Jan 5;293(1):43-53.
6. Bradley C. Johnston, PhD; Steve Kanters, MSc; Kristofer Bandayrel, MPH; Ping Wu, MBBS, MSc6; Faysal Naji, BHSc; Reed A. Siemieniuk, MD; Geoff D. C. Ball, RD, PhD; Jason W. Busse, DC, PhD; Kristian Thorlund, PhD Gordon Guyatt, MD, MSc3; Jeroen P. Jansen, PhD; Edward J. Mills, PhD, MSc. Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults. A Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2014;312(9):923-933.