I haven’t blogged about diet and nutrition for ages. So I’m here to fill you in on my latest thoughts on eats.
That’s not the only reason I’m writing this though
I also need to let off steam. So bear with me, this one is going to be a bit free-form!
The thing is, I’m seeing what is looking suspiciously like a return to the trend for high carb, very low calorie diets.
Seriously world, do we really need to go around this crazy carousel again?
Some people in their 20’s might not remember how this went down the first time. Maybe the status quo in dieting is now “clean eating” and paleo-style diets. So maybe, to some young people, high carb, low fat/protein/calories seems an interesting new way of “dieting”.
For me it’s an exasperating return to something which I’ve seen mess up countless people’s bodies (and minds).
I should point out that I was no more in favour of the “you must always eat 100% Clean” (whatever that meant) or “only ever eat what (we think) cavemen ate” diets either.
I’m glad those fads are dying out. But what I had hoped would happen is that the diet-trend-pendulum might swing away from very low carbs back towards some middle ground.
But apparently no. Looks like we’re heading right back towards “eat loads of processed crap and just restrict your calories”.
“It Worked for me!”
The tricky thing in explaining this is that both high carb and low carb diets will actually “work” in the short term. But the reality is it’s rare for people to stick with them for the long term.
Please guys, be very wary of people touting anything like this. Remember, it will work, but usually only in the short term. So, you might see someone showing off their weight loss on the latest trendy plan, but unless they’ve maintained it for at least around 5 years they haven’t really got to a place where they can say whether they’ve found it sustainable.
And please be honest with yourself. If you find yourself flitting from one new diet “innovation” to another, what’s going on there?
I don’t care how much “science” the people marketing it say they have behind it (see adendum). Ask yourself, what are you looking for with all these different diets? Are you sure it isn’t a quick fix, or the magic pill to allow you to shed fat without changing your eating habits for the long term?If you want to shed fat and keep it off, accept that you need to change what you eat, forever Click To Tweet
Come on people, as I’ve said so many times before. If you base your diet around mainly veggies, fruit, natural proteins and some healthy fats, do you really think you’ll be going too far wrong?
How my Approach has Changed Since The Fat Burn Revolution
I’m not saying no one should ever change their ideas and opinions about diet and healthy eating, of course. It’d be pretty dumb to stick to principles which had been unequivocally disproven (although many people’s egos do seem to force them to do that).
As for me, sure, I change my ideas sometimes. My nutrition education began with my own struggles with fat loss which got me reading anything I could about eating for weight loss. Later as a fitness journalist I regularly consulted with top nutrition experts, sports scientists and world class athletes on their ideas, experiences and recommendations.
I passed a nutrition course as part of my Personal Trainer qualification (many people who call themselves nutritionists actually only studied the same module). Then there are the countless food diaries and corresponding results from all kinds of different people I’ve monitored in my work as a trainer.
But my learning never stops. I’m still constantly reading about nutrition research and shaping or reshaping my approach based on what I learn.
It has now been over five years since I wrote the diet and nutrition chapter in my book, The Fat Burn Revolution. Since then I’ve probably softened on a few things or maybe it was just that the tone of the book was very forthright and it came over more strongly that I actually meant.
(I should probably go back and re-read the chapter really, but I can’t. Revisiting my work from a long time ago always makes me cringe. It’s like watching old family videos, or something.)
Going Soft on Grains?
From what I can recall, I think threw potatoes and grains some shade. I’m still not a fan of there being a lot of processed grains (e.g. bread and pasta) in a fat loss diet. They don’t have a lot of nutritional content, are easy to overeat on and leave you hungry quickly afterwards.
I can’t remember what I said about calorie counting. I might have said ‘don’t do it’…or at least I think that’s how it came over. I still think, for a lot of people, it’s not necessary. However, calorie monitoring can be helpful for people who have never looked much their calorie intake/expenditure before to allow them to get a feel for the energy density of different types of foods and what their daily intake needs to look like.
That’s about it really in terms of what’s changed since I wrote TFBR. I still maintain that “mostly healthy, most of the time” rather than any kind of extreme is by far the best approach. But I have learned that a lot of people need guidance in finding what “mostly, mostly” should look like. I’m working on something I hope will help with that.Mostly healthy, most of the time is the best approach to sustainable healthy eating. Click To Tweet
I’m still not a fan of eating a lot of dairy products. I know this didn’t go down well with some people. But I’m not going to hold back from saying it again now, because it’s true. Dairy products are packed with hormones which evolved to help calves grow, having a lot of that is clearly not going to be the best thing to help your body fat levels shrink.
By the way, I had a complaint once about my comment that drinking milk is “drinking the lactate of another species”. I’m sorry that offended someone, that wasn’t my intention. But I can’t retract it because that’s simply what milk is, it’s cow lactate, whether you want to face up to it, or not.
But again, I’m not saying ‘don’t ever have any dairy’, I’m not vegan (which is super-trendy now too, but let’s not get into that here!). A splash of milk in your coffee probably won’t have much of an impact on your diet. All I’m saying is, think about what milk/dairy is and whether it’s in-line with what you want your diet to do for you.
OK, I have loads more to say on the subject of eating but I’d better close before this post gets too epic. I can talk more on this in future posts if you want me to…? Hit me up on social media and let me know!
Read up and Decide for Yourself
Here are some links to a few of the places I go to stay educated on diet and nutrition. I hope you find them helpful/entertaining too:
Hodge Twins (Youtube Channel)
Just one last thing. There is of course also PubMed, as every “bro-scientific” fitness trainer knows. It’s excellent at what it does, which is publish raw scientific literature. But I’m just so tired of people who are vastly unqualified to analyse the research, pulling papers off there to support their opinions. Usually, their “evidence” could equally be disputed by other research. So folks, just be a bit wary of fitness trainers/marketers who do that. Taking an evidence-based approach is, obviously, the only rational approach. But in my opinion, if you’re not able to ascertain when the evidence is spurious it’s wiser to find a few experts you trust, who are highly trained, educated and experienced in analysing the scientific data, and learn from their work. I don’t know whether it’s naivety, arrogance or dishonestly that leads so many in the fitness world to do otherwise, but I’m certainly not ashamed to say that I take my lead from the experts, which is why I haven’t included pubmed above.