When dieting we have many options available to use. We can increase cardio, decrease calories or manipulate macronutrient ratios (by increasing carbohydrates on one day and lowering them on the next). But shouldn’t we then use all of these at once and lose weight faster?
In short no. One preferred way of starting a diet is to visualize it like playing a game or my favorite analogy, a game of cards. The volume of cardio and calories are similar to our lives in the game or our hand of cards. We must only then use up these lives or play these cards when we really have to. Yes, it is correct you will lose weight faster if you decrease your calories substantially, however anything more than a 500 calorie decrease below your norm (base metabolic rate) can incur potential metabolic damage if carried out for a lengthy period. Not only will metabolic damage be on the ‘cards’, but muscle loss can occur as well potentially negatively interfering with the hormone levels of the body. If we keep decreasing calories too soon we will use up all of our lives (or play all of our hand) too quickly and with nowhere else to go, the only other option is to drastically increase cardio. Not only will this increase the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone in the body) but will leave the person dieting very lethargic and no one wants to feel like a zombie (and no one around you wants to be near you either – personal experience). It can lead to severe mood swings and can also in some cases for men decrease libido (so try to keep some fats in your diet too!)
So how should we diet?
There are of course many options and diets available. It seems every week there is a new fad. But yo-yoing from one diet to the other is like sending mail without a stamp – it will never get you anywhere!
Aanalyzing the basic dieting principles, the simplest way is to make small changes such as increasing your general cardio by only 5 minutes or decreasing carbohydrates in your diet by 25g (100 calories, about the volume of a banana). This can result in positive changes; the only problem is being patient.
Then when the body reaches its homeostasis on the volume of cardio or calories consumed, then you can consider using up one of your lives to continue playing the game. A substantial problem to only making small changes to someone’s’ diet is the lack of patience that we as a society have. We naturally in the modern day want everything here and now. Of course, this type of mentality will lead to variable levels of yo-yo dieting and in turn you will never get to be on the leader board of the diet game…
So the best ways to monitoring your diet are:
- weigh yourself once or twice a week in the morning (after going to the bathroom)
- get yourself a tape measure and check your waist once a week
- take a photo of yourself every couple of weeks – (this is the best way as sometimes the scales will not budge a bit but in reality, your body is changing)