There is a new diet sweeping the nation! Everyone who's anyone is doing it, and they're seeing INSANE results. Fat is just melting off of them, muscles they didn't know they had are being shown in their obligatory bathroom selfie, and they've never been "healthier!" Except that in another six months, they're heavier than they were before, further from their overall goal, and have absolutely no idea where to turn next. Oh, wait! There is another new, better diet sweeping the nation! To the grocery store!
The words "Fad Diet" are thrown around a lot these days, but for a good reason. There are A LOT of them, and many are ancient! Don't believe me? I'll bet you the rest of this article they've been around longer than you think. Bet? Bet!
How about we take it back to 1805. Lord Byron touts his diet of biscuits and soda water, potatoes drenched in vinegar, and all while wearing layers of wool in order to sweat off some pounds.
Further back? How about one Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin? He's best known for having said, "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are." This is the true father of the low-carb diet, circa 1780. Imagine, we're a fledgling country, and the first low-carb diet has hit the shelves!!!
Around 1925 there was another type of weight control out. Lucky Strike cigarettes wanted you to, "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet." Now, there's a healthy diet tip for you! Grab a cigarette instead of a snack!
The 1930s saw the advent of the Grapefruit Diet –a.k.a. The Hollywood Diet—
1950s with the Cabbage Soup Diet.
Weight Watchers hits the market in the 60s.
A Florida doctor, in the mid-70s, comes up with the Cookie Diet. You eat cookies made of amino acids. What happened to this one!!!???
Slim-Fast is then launched in '77, followed by Jane Fonda's foray into aerobics in the 80s. No pain, no gain!
1990, the words low-fat are everywhere! Snackwells reign supreme! McDonald's even jumps on the bandwagon with the McDonald's McLean Deluxe Burger!
1991, Robert C. Atkins (though he'd been around since the 70s), publishes Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, and what Brillat-Savarin started is brought to a new level of low-carbiness.
1995 sees the quick-lived Zone Diet. Still around in some forms today, but we call them macros. More on this later!
2003 sees more fuel to the fire of the low-carb craze with The South Beach Diet.
2011, we get the HCG Diet. This combines a fertility drug with very strict caloric intake.
From there, we have Paleo, Keto, the David Diet, juicing, Volumetrics Diet, Raw Food Diet, Nutrisystem, intermittent fasting, and even more ridged diets seem to pop up daily!
So, which one is right for you?
Well, I want to say, "Not a single one!" However, that may be presumptuous of me.
A quick note before we continue: Weight Watchers is named above, but it's a diet that is highly effective. It was simply named because it's one of the most recognizable diets that has come out in the last 100 years!
So, why do I not want to just sit and bash all these fad diets? Because I've seen the best results off of one. However, as with everything, there is a catch. The, gulp, I gotta say it... diet that I chose to follow about 376 days ago (thanks MyFitnessPal) was the If it Fits Your Macros Diet (IIFYM). IIFYM is a updated iteration of the Zone Diet. This thing sounded wonderful! Eat whatever you want as long as you hit your carb goal, protein goal, and fat goal. All of this while staying within your calories. So, eat whatever, hit your goals, exercise minimally, and lose that weight! Too good to be true, right?
Absolutely it is!
Turns out that a calorie doesn't equal a calorie. Three hundred calories of cookies are a whole lot different than three hundred calories of carrots.
Sure, you can nearly close all your macro percentages with nothing but peanut butter and protein bars full of sugar, but that won't help you get healthier. I didn't quite understand this when I took my first steps: you need to understand that it is the nutrition of the whole foods that you're putting in your body instead of the sum of their parts that matters! That takes some much-dreaded research. Unless you're like me, and love to nerd out over nutrition facts!
Once I figured out that it's what you eat and not how much, using macros has been a freeing experience! It gives me the flexibility to have a cheat now and again, lets me better assess micronutrients for improved overall nutrition, and the MyFitnessPal app takes away the stress of keeping track of what I've crammed into my maw during the day.
Freedom. That's what it's about, The freedom to maintain a healthy way of eating. That's precisely what diets take away. We really love having freedom and what we like taken away, don't we? (See current Karen mask memes for the answer) Nearly without fail, those that claim they are on a diet are more often than not the first ones that run to the nearest form of free food in the office, hit the breakroom for a "crash snack," and continually say they're starting over Monday. The ones in the best shape aren't on a diet, and they choose to eat a certain way that helps them achieve their overall goals. If they eat a slice of cake at the office birthday party, they don't beat themselves up because they'll work it off later. They know their nutrition ins and outs enough to adjust if they can't work it off later. They don't start over on Monday, they know they never stopped just because they had a slightly off-kilter snack!
All that being said, if you find a "diet" in any form that will get you to your goal in a genuinely healthy way (do the research folks), then good for you! Getting fit is not a destination; it's a very continuous journey. So, the right "diet" for you is the one in which you find your freedom. It's the one you can stick to! It's the one you can sustain while exercising, without always wanting to tuck and roll off the wagon! Because guess what? The one you stick to soon becomes your diet and not a diet.
The first step is always the hardest, the journey isn't exactly comfortable, but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun when you start walking it with others. Get out of your comfort zone, find a group that can help, and take that first step. If nothing else, come journey with me!