How do you know if a diet is the right one for you?

Losing body fat and transforming your body is not just about looking better.

Having coached many bikini and fitness competitors for bodybuilding shows I know of many barbaric methods that will reduce body fat levels quickly in an unhealthy way.

Some of these methods included:

  1. Very low-calorie diets, competitors on 1200 calories or less as they got closer to stage which could be 1000 calories or more below their daily maintenance calories (if you’re a small person in height and body composition, 1200 calories may be ok, but if you’re a tall person with lots of muscle, 1200 calories is probably far too low).
  2. Excessive cardio – An hour a day on the treadmill or stair climber while on very low-calories.
  3. Cutting out carbohydrates and barely including any fat in a diet – think just protein and green vegetables at each meal.
  4. Shakes and supplements replacing real food and regular meals.
  5. Use of diet pills and other substances some of which were illegal in natural bodybuilding.

The effect of these methods was yes, body fat loss, but involved lots of suffering and compromised health to get lean followed by rapid body fat gains once the show was finished – the post show blow out!

Note there are also many healthy ways to prepare a competitor for stage without staving them and making them do lots of cardio – basically the method I will teach you in my blogs.

So, what does this mean for those of you who aren’t competing and who just want to drop some body fat and tone up?

Well whatever method you decide to use to try and reduce your body fat levels it should NEVER impact your health.

How do you know if your method of reducing body fat is impacting your health and/or is probably not the right method for you?

Here are some common signs of a bad diet, meal plan or program:

  1. You have no energy, you feel fatigued, you drag yourself through the day.
  2. You feel hungry shortly or very soon after you’ve eaten, you have intense cravings for carbs or certain foods and you may end up bingeing
  3. You can’t perform in the gym; your lifts are weak and you drag yourself through your cardio feeling lethargic and low in energy. In general, you don’t feel very motivated at all to exercise.
  4. You feel cranky, moody and snappy.
  5. If your calories are too low, you may have head spins or feel dizzy or shaky during the day.
  6. Your hair might be dull and brittle as well as your nails and you might develop skin problems.
  7. Your menstrual cycles are all over the place – a sign your hormones may have become unbalanced.
  8. You might develop nutritional deficiencies low in iron for example if you’ve cut out meat, low in B vitamins if you’ve cut out wholegrain carbohydrates.
  9. You get sick a lot with colds and flu and it takes you ages to shake them.

These signs are all red flags that something isn’t right, even if you are losing body fat and feel that you are looking better or fitting into a smaller dress size.

Any fat loss program should not only help you look better, it should also make you FEEL better which indicates it is good for you and your health.

You’ll know you are on the right path and using a method of fat loss that is working for you if:

  1. After the initial adjustment of detoxing yourself off processed foods, trans fats and sugar etc. (yes this can make you feel pretty low in energy initially), once the healthy foods kick in, combined with the regular exercise and you’re looking after yourself you should have a lot more energy because you’re better nourished and getting enough calories. You can smash out a weights session and you don’t dread cardio.
  2. Better sleep, regular cycles and better moods.
  3. Healthy shiny hair and glowing skin from the essential fats in your diet as well as strong healthy nails from protein and other nutrients in food.
  4. Your have no nutritional deficiencies, you are eating a balanced diet (that includes a daily treat), you don’t have any or very very few cravings and you don’t’ binge.
  5. You are getting results (slowly and safely) and you aren’t suffering to get them.

Summary

To summarise, whatever method, program or diet you are using, not only should it be helping you look better (reduce body fat, increase lean muscle, improve the look of your skin, hair, nails etc.), it should also make you feel better and it should be improving your general health.

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