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Building The Perfect Diet (3 mins)


When it comes to building your own diet to lose fat and/or build muscle you can rest assure its can get pretty confusing and intimidating. We live in an information dense yet knowledge starved era. There is so much conflicting advice, whether its from national health guidelines, diet gurus or supplement companies. Would you believe when I typed ‘ the best diet ‘ into google it came up 417,000,000 results.

It’s no surprise people fail before they begin.

The purpose of this article is to outline some home truths and key building blocks when it comes to creating your own diet.

Look Past The Hype When Building Your Diet

No matter what diet you see in a magazine, book or online article they will all debate over the usual topics of: Calories, Marco preference, Supplements, Meal timing, Food choices, Supplements, Testing etc.… For as long as these topics are around you can rest assure there will be plenty more diet books to buy!

Although some of these factors are essential. They are often presented in such a way to make you fit the program not the other way round.

When it comes to optimizing the effectiveness of your diet, many other factors need to be considered: Outcome (health, body composition and performance) Activity level, underlying health conditions (e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease), budget, past dieting experiences, psychological issues, convenience issues (e.g. what if you can’t eat during work), cooking skills, cultural beliefs, food storage capacity and much more finer details you wouldn’t even think of.

Many weight management programs (diets) are too generic and do not take these factors into consideration (Hale 2010)

An infective diet program would assume its specific recommendations apply to everyone (Cookie cutter plans) the same can also be said for a lot of workout programs.

Bottom line – The program must be specific to you and your lifestyle!


Beware of ‘Science Says’…

Quite often you’ll see products using extravagant claims to sell their product, for example “ Studies show, Leading Doctor (insert name) says…”

Don’t have the wool pulled over your eyes. Proper referencing does not include testimonials (no matter who they are from) or adverts that use over complicated science terms.

Real referencing involves the use of peer-reviewed scientific journals. Even still, question everything, look further into how the research was conducted, how the results were collected and who governed or sponsored the research. If this sounds like too much work for you, fine, but when your about to spend a lot of your time (which you can’t get back), effort and hard earned money you’re better of knowing your doing things right!

If you want to know more about how to interpret scientific research make sure to check out Episode 16 of my Elite Muscle Radio with Dr. Lee Hamilton (Sports and Exercise Research – Sterling University) who gives you the ins and outs on how to understand research. Safe to say you’ll be able to silence a some of the con artists pushing supplements your way!


The Scales Are Not The Only Measure Of Success

If you’re weighing daily the only thing you’re measuring is fluctuations in body water and bowel contents. Weight loss comes in various forms: fat, protein (muscle mass), water, stored glucose and mineral storage (bone). In addition to a weight drop on the scale other measurements such as girths, skin folds, Dexa scans, blood work, visual appearance and most importantly how you feel need to be taken into account. Don’t rely on the scales alone for an accurate representation of your success.


Don’t Fall Prey To Diet Programs Pushing Product

Supplements and certain tests (E.g. blood work, stool samples) can play an important role in helping you obtain a faster result. However, ‘Supplements’ are intended to ‘complement’ not ‘replace’ or be exclusively relied upon over nutrient dense food or exercise.

If a program is constantly at you to buy their products you can rest assure they’re primary focus is your wallet not your end goal.


Putting It All Together: Building Your Perfect Diet

According to extensive research conducted for the Journal For The American Medical Association (JAMA) under an investigation entitled, ‘A Call For An End To Diet Debates’ the key detriment of dieting success was adherence.

In other words if you can’t stick to the diet, it won’t be successful.

This may sound well and obvious but bear in mind most people diet in cycles of 6-20 weeks whether it be for a competition, wedding or holiday. The psychological aspect of getting in shape is often overlooked but is crucial in determining your overall success. All of those factors I mentioned earlier must be taken into account to ensure a successful approach.

You also need to realise that your level of motivation may not resemble that of a professional sports person who’s career and livelihood depends on how they look and perform. As a result they may tend to be just fine with an all out 100% or nothing approach – their mindset is different to yours – don’t compare. 

Here’s a breakdown summary of some key factors I take into account when helping my clients focus on their long term dietary success.

  • Appropriate calorific intake (the major determinant of weight loss and muscle gain)
  • Essential Nutrients (fats, protein and micronutrients)
  • Food likes and dislikes (your hardly going to stick to a program of food you don’t like – one sure way to encourage binge eating)
  • Metabolic abnormalities (underlying medical conditions etc)
  • Flexibility and diet breaks – Realise, you won’t be able to stick to your program 100% day in day out. There will be times when things will slip. There is nothing wrong with this, such is life. Having the right plan in place that allows you to compensate and get on with things effortlessly is crucial.

Ask yourself one question: How long can I stick to my current diet & training program?

If you sighed deep down inside and answered: I don’t know, until the holidays are over, 6 weeks, 18 weeks or after the wedding. You really don’t need me to state the obvious – What your doing isn’t sustainable, your results aren’t going to be sustainable – its time for change!

  • Hale, J. (2010). Should I Eat the Yolk? Separating Facts From Myths to Get You Lean, Fit & Healthy. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.
  • JAMA. 2013 Aug 21;310(7):687-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.8601. A call for an end to the diet debates.HHale, J. (201). Should I Eat the Yolk? Separating Facts From Myths to Get You Lean, Fit & Healthy. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.ale, J. Hale, J. (2010). Should I Eat the Yolk? Separating Facts From