For benefit of the new people or any who might have missed it the 8mililon times I talked about this already.
My philosophy is that the best approach is to be working to a set of targets that represent your MINIMUM energy and macronutrient requirements, with the intention of EXCEEDING those minimum targets.
Now what most people do is an arbitrary low calorie target which is actually far short of their minimum requirement, but they treat it as a maximum limit. What these people are doing, unfortunately, is ensuring a LACK of results by depriving their bodies of the energy and other resources that they REQUIRE not merely to fuel exercise and daily activity, but chiefly to RECOVER and ADAPT to training.
The purpose of training should not be merely to “burn calories”. The purpose is to adapt favourably to training with the creation of a stronger, fitter, more durable version of “you”. Simply put: you can’t build something out of nothing. How can you expect to recover & adapt to training with improved performance and improved condition without providing enough of the necessary resources via delicious food?
You just can’t.
So we should work on the principle of determining and then exceeding our minimum requirements. For most people it is entirely sufficient to simply be “in the ballpark” somewhere between what is “adequate” (aka minimum requirement) and what is “optimal” (aka maximum usable energy intake), and it is not necessary to fine tune a plan down to the last gram, last calorie, or last percentage point.
Working to a plan to meet and exceed your minimum requirements ensures success. It is not about going hungry, having willpower and resisting the temptation of enjoyable and indulgent treats once in a while. It is simply about providing the fuel, the energy and nutritional resources that your body requires, and training it to put as much of those resources as possible into the muscles where you want them to go, while drawing a little more on any fat stores to fuel less intense, non-exercise activity.
SURELY this makes 1000% more sense than assuming that a strong, healthy and athletic body comes via the imagined moral virtue or strength of character it would take to only “eat clean” at all times? Surely it makes 10000% more sense than thinking you can starve your body into strong, healthy and athletic shape via low calorie dieting?
For the vast majority of us, we need to be in the right ball park between adequate and optimal intake as often as possible. A little under or a little over on the odd occasion will not make a lick of difference, but habitually, on average, by default, we should have eating habits that are conducive to a “not inappropriate” total daily intake.
But I need to lose weight, first.
If your goal involves losing a small or even a more significant amount of weight, the first thing you need is an approach that is sustainable. It needs to actually be suitable to supporting your goal condition, and it needs to be something you can do habitually without stress or difficulty. Attempting any restrictive form of diet, whether restriction to a low calorie target or restriction of food choices is unworkable as you simply can’t expect to stick to it for more than… who knows? A few days, or a few weeks at a time?
By the way, while we’re talking about it: Failing to adhere to a restrictive diet is not an indication of poor character, weak mindedness, lack of discipline and so on. It is a physiological impossibility. Your body will DEMAND the energy that it has been deprived of, before too long. When that happens, you end up over eating and / or quitting the diet. But that is an inevitable outcome due to an unworkable approach. It is not a personal failing that other people would have been able to tough out.
No one succeeds on those approaches, ever. No one ever has, and no one ever will.
Even if you could stick to it, it would not be conducive to your goal. Not a lot of people seem to understand this, but while “calories in / calories out” is still the basis of any good strategy for long term success, when your “calories in” are too low and especially when your “calories out” is also too high, your body has no choice but to prioritise the conservation of energy and the preservation of fat stores. Think about that for a minute and consider how horrendously misguided all of these “1200 calories and 3 hours of cardio” type weight loss plans really are.
Here’s how I would probably build your plan if you came to me for help.
This varies depending on the circumstances but generally speaking, something like this.
For a person who’s about your height, your age, your sex and is getting started with a little activity, about how much total energy would they require to maintain a relatively lean, normal weight range?
For overweight people, this might just be “closer to” a normal weight range.
Also note that for athletic people, what is “normal” goes out the window anyway as we’re packing on more muscle and building stronger bones, so we’re more concerned with “strong and healthy condition” than with “normal weight” per se. But still, we need to start somewhere, and closer to this “historically normal” weight range is where we base our initial calculations.
That’s probably our MINIMUM requirement, to get started with.
Based on your height, age, a suitable goal weight range and what’s required to fuel a little activity.
“A little activity” is not what we’re doing though, so as we progress with training, we’ll need to increase further from this initial minimum requirement to a new minimum that is more representative of what you require not just to fuel some activity, but to perform, recover and adapt optimally to training.
So we start out conservatively but still significantly higher than the sorts of numbers people usually associate with “weight loss”, “dieting” or “healthy eating”, and then we strategically increase further towards what should be optimal intake for total energy and macronutrients.
Take all of the emotion out of it and just consider on purely logical grounds. Isn’t this exactly how you’d expect to produce results from training? Rather than by going hungry and abstaining from all of your favourite foods?
Jump to the Online Coaching page for video testimonials about how well this approach works out for my people.