I read something on the internet today that kind of pissed me off. Obviously I read and browse through a ton of information on a daily basis about the various topics that I’m interested in as most people do. I’m usually able to brush it off when I come across a “trainer” or “wellness coach” who’s giving someone bad advice.
Usually this bad advice comes with good intentions and little to no harm to the recipient, today however I can’t get over it so I decided to write this blog post to address the individuals question / problem. This way I get it off my chest and help anyone who is struggling with the same problem, which I know a lot of people are.
The problem this individual is having is that they have been following a very strict diet for the past few weeks in an effort to burn off some extra body fat.
Having followed this restricted diet for the past several weeks they are experiencing “intense” cravings for junk food. They reached out to their coach/trainer because they feel like giving up. They feel like they won’t be able to control themselves and will eventually cave and eat the food that they aren’t supposed to eat. This individual is close to throwing in the towel all together.
The response from the coach / trainer is pretty typical actually. It was encouraging. They told their client that they believed in them and that they could do it! You know, typical cheerleader stuff that some clients need and some trainers are good at.
What really bothered me about this is that it isn’t necessary for this client to follow a super strict diet for weeks on end. Sadly the coach is trying to motivate them by saying don’t give up. This only makes it worse in my opinion because if they do eventually cave they are going to feel like they let their coach down. When in reality it’s the coach who’s failed them.
Yes, I think the coach failed their client because this client should never of been subjected to a diet that is so restricted that it causes cravings so intense that they think they are going to lose it. This client is not a competitor, they aren’t a few weeks out from stepping on stage. Why the torture?
Besides, if the diet is that grueling it really doesn’t matter how much weight they lose. They are going to gain it ALL back as soon as the diets over because they are going to jump at the first chance to satisfy those cravings.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is a time a place for sacrifice when it comes to dieting. A competitor who’s weeks away from getting on stage will need to be more disciplined if they want to look their best. But most people trying to lose weight aren’t competitors and they shouldn’t be forced to follow super restrictive diets for several weeks in a row.
Some people can handle it, most people can’t.
If you’re in a similar situation as the person I’ve mentioned, here is my advice. Give yourself a little flexibility. When you want to eat something, eat it. Try to factor it in to your macro-nutrient and caloric goals as best as you can, then move on with your life. Don’t feel bad about it or associate quilt with a poor food choice, this is a precursor to developing an eating disorder. Ask Layne Norton.
By allowing yourself to eat some of these foods you will crave them less. Think about it. When you’re not on a restrictive diet do you crave junk food all of the time? No, you don’t!
Having a cookie or two here and there or a slice of pizza instead of your salad isn’t going to totally derail your fat loss efforts. It will actually keep you on track AND allow you to maintain your sanity.
Yes, you’ll need to keep track of your calories and your macro-nutrient intake. In order to lose weight you will need to maintain a caloric deficit, so there is some effort involved. Moderation needs to be used but that’s easier when you’re not limited with your food choices.
I believe there is a time and place for restrictive diets and limited food options. In some situations it makes sense but the trainer / coach needs to know their client. They need to know their clients goals and they need to be able to develop a diet that their client can follow.
In my opinion the best diet to burn fat is the one that an individual can follow for the rest of their life. If a diet is so terrible that it can only be tolerated for a few weeks then any results from that diet will be temporary. The best diet for you is one that is sustainable and enjoyable.