As a trainer, the majority of the emails, texts, and face to face questions that I get revolve around nutrition, dieting, and supplementation.
Dieting means different things to different people; especially in terms of inside of the fitness world and outside.
The dictionary defines DIET like this:
With this, you can see that a diet (noun) refers to the food that you take in daily. In action (verb), you will see that diet is defined differently: Restriction. In these terms, I would encourage you to view your “diet” as your everyday DIETary habits; aka what you eat daily. You’ve heard this time and time again, but health is a lifestyle. While there are several fad diets out there, please consider what your diet currently consists of when seeking information on which “diet” approach would be best for you.
In action, restricting certain foods from your daily diet may or may not be beneficial to your goals. This is where fad diets become a major problem most of the time. Most are extremely restrictive, and do not encourage day-to-day healthy lifestyle changes. In other words, these diets are not long term. So, once you go off of the diet, you may regain all of the weight that you lost / gained because the limitations of the diet were too much for your mind and/or body to adhere to long term. This is what the term yo-yo dieting refers to.
Now, this is not to say that there is not a time or place for restriction. Of course there is! In fact, most of the commonly eaten foods such as pizza, ice cream and sugary sweets should be restricted as often as possible in an day-to-day diet. Restricting such foods is what we refer to as a “healthy approach” that allows us to achieve balanced or a “balanced diet”. There are also other instances that dietary restriction can be a good thing.
Consider a diabetic, a renal (kidney) patient, high blood pressure, CVD, a personal with metabolic disease or any other medical condition that requires or does not require medication. Whatever the condition may be, there are specific dietary guidelines that are encouraged in order to manage or prevent exacerbating the disease process.
Another instance for dieting that is extremely common and encouraged is for specific sports performance. Restriction for specific events that require specific weight, body fat, or aesthetic pleasing to be met is very common. Most athletes have their “on season” and “off seasons” where their weight may fluctuate, dependent on their performance demands. This can be accomplished in a healthy way with willpower, discipline and professional assistance. It is not recommended for the average person with average activity levels to go on an athlete’s diet because their caloric expenditure and performance requirements differ greatly from that of an average lifestyle American.
There are also concerns with sports specific dieting; however, and research continues to be conducted among athletes who must follow an extremely restrictive diet, and the physiological and psychological affects on long-term eating habits; sometimes causing / correlating to eating disorders.
I am not here to tell you that dieting is good or bad for you, but to encourage you to seek out professional assistance based on your own individualized goal. In order to best be prepared to work with a professional you should do the following:
1) Consider your body response; both mental and physical.
Example: Have you dieted before? Did the diet work for you? If so, why? If not, why?
2) Consider your goals. What are you looking to achieve?
3) WHY are you looking to achieve? The why is just as important as the what.
4) Keep track of your current dietary intake and physical activity. A professional will need to look at these variables in order to best determine your current state of health. Besides, you may be surprised at what you are actually consuming.