It seems that the new trend is to create a diet, share it online and have as many people follow it as possible. Everyone is coming up with their own allegedly scientifically proven diet that will make fat melt off your belly and help you put on 50 pounds of lean muscle mass overnight! While this would be fantastic, the bad news that such a diet doesn’t exist. In fact, even performance enhancing drugs wouldn’t give you those dramatic results. We have witnessed the rise of many different diets over the past decade or so, all claiming to be the newest breakthrough in nutrition science. While those diets work for some, they don’t work for most people. Why is that? Another issue is that even those who experience good results from those diets are not aware of what their “health status” is or even aware of what their OWN diet should be like. I am talking about a customized diet that fits their own genetics and needs here. A few diets come to mind: Paleo diet, Atkins diet, military diet, ABCDE diet, anabolic diet, BLA BLA BLA! This is not a publicity stunt, however, it’s more of an educational piece of text that aims to shed light on some important concepts and guidelines an effective diet should be built around. I will write an individual article about each one of those popular diets in the future to address their pros and cons, but for now, let’s see why most diets suck and ineffective for majority of people.
Why do those diets work for some people?
There is absolutely no disagreement that some of the online popular diets work for some people, but they don’t work for most people. Why is that? If you have read my weight loss basics article, you would understand that losing weight is merely a mathematical equation. Calories in VS calories out. THAT’S IT! There is no secret magic that makes a diet effective. There are no “super foods” that will accelerate your metabolism so fast that you start dripping fat while running on the treadmill. It’s ALL about calories!
“But I lost 50 pounds using the Paleo diet!!!!”
Yes, that’s possible and I am not doubting your honesty. However, you know why you lost that much weight while following the Paleo diet? Because the Paleo diet created a caloric deficit in which you were DEFINITELY eating less calories than your body needs, hence why your body decided to use the stored fat as energy to compensate for the lack of energy intake. Same concept goes for every diet out there. Those who have adapted such diets and lost weight were merely eating tons of food or calorie-dense foods that put them in a caloric surplus and caused them to gain weight PRIOR TO following the diet! So, when they started following a diet that promotes cleaner and high quality food choices, which inevitably have significantly less calories and are more nutrient dense, they started losing weight due to the indirect creation of a caloric deficit. There is no magic or secret bullet here fellas. It’s all about calories in vs calories out!
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s see why those one size fits all diets are not ideal or effective in the long run. Keep in mind that each individual diet has its terrible cons, but due to the tons of details I would have to explain, each diet will have its own post.
Lack of customization
I keep mentioning this over and over for a good reason, when it comes to transforming your body, customization is everything. Yes, we are all humans, but we are genetically different. No two people have identical genetics, not even twins. Now, given that we all have different genetics, our genetics play a major role in carrying out every single bodily function including digestion, metabolism, processing different foods…etc. One size fits all diets neglect this crucial aspect of a successful diet. Instead of taking into account such differences, the diet just put everyone on the same general guidelines. Also, since calories are the foundation of a successful diet, online diets DO NOT take into account different energy (calorie) requirements among people, which are determined by their age, activity level, weight, height and gender. You just can’t put a 200 pounds’ guy and a 180 pounds’ gal on the same diet utilizing the same number of calories. How are you going to create a caloric deficit then? Lack of customization in online diets is their major downfall.
This is another HUGE factor that one-size fits all diets neglect. We all have different genetics, correct? Thus, we all have different metabolisms. Some people have incredibly fast metabolisms -we hate you! -. Some have slower metabolisms. Some peoples’ metabolisms are so efficient that they can process any type of food you throw at their body, while others would collapse if they ate the wrong food! For instance, if a diet instructs its followers to drink milk, how will lactose intolerant individuals work around that? They will either have to drop the milk completely or substitute it for almond or cashew milk. Genetically gifted people have metabolisms that can utilize carbs very efficiently, thus they wouldn’t need to be on a low-carbohydrates diet. In fact, putting those individuals on a low-carb diet would be counterproductive to their body transformation progress and their health. And vice versa! You just cannot put everyone on the same diet.
So, let’s assume that diet tells its users to eat 6 square meals at specific times throughout the day, will everyone be able to follow such a diet? Most likely not! People have things to do. We all have families, work and different things to take care of on a daily basis. Some people have the time to cook 6 square meals every day, but most have jobs, kids to take care of and errands to run. We all have different availabilities. Plus, who has the time to cook and eat six meals everyday with our urban face-paced lifestyles? Not me!
Using the same example from the former point, some people cannot afford to eat six times a day. This is especially true if a diet is built on specific high-end foods like smoked salmon, grass fed beef, caviar…etc. Life’s expenses are increasing as it is, and I am sure if someone has to choose between feeding his family and eating 6 times daily, he will opt-in for the former option.
Satiety and individual differences
Remember my extensive guide on satiety index? If you don’t remember or never read it, go read it! Satiety simply refers to how filling or satisfying a food is. Somewhat intelligently designed diets are built around filling foods that have low calories, are nutrient dense and provide a bit of leeway to the user so he doesn’t lose his mind. Satiety also differs from a person to another. Eating a boiled potato could make you full and happy. However, eating a boiled potato can make me ravenous and cause me to eat everything in sight! Most one-size fits all diets are not built on filling foods, which defeats the purpose of creating a caloric deficit while keeping the dieter full and sane. There is no point of dieting if you are going to feel hungry all the time. That’s not called a diet, it should be called torture! Also, those diets do not take into account individual differences in satiety perception and thus are bound to fail most of its followers.
A 200 pounds’ man who has a solid foundation of muscle and needs to lose 10 pounds of fat CANNOT be put on the same caloric intake or ratio of macronutrients as an obese person who has to lose 100 pounds! A 100-different people have different starting points. They all differ in weight, height, age, gender, activity level and metabolism speed. How could you make them all follow the same diet and expect similar results? Not going to happen, amigos!
Here is some news about the human body; the more weight you lose, the more your body fights back! Ever noticed that when you start dieting fat comes off almost overnight? Then I am sure you also noticed that as you diet more fat loss slows down. This is because the human body has several physiological mechanisms to keep you alive in times of need. Extra fat is merely stored energy that your body can use when there is a lack of food intake. The more you use this spare fuel, the less you have in the tank, and thus, your body holds on those last pounds of fat (energy) more than if you have tons of fat to lose! Due to this phenomenon, as you’re dieting and making progress, you will constantly need to tweak your diet and caloric intake whenever you notice a change in fat loss trend. For instance; if you are losing weight too fat, chances are you are burning your hard-earned muscle along with the fat. So, you would need to eat a bit more to create a LESSER caloric deficit and solely burn fat. However, if you have been losing fat and plateaued all of a sudden, you may need to decrease your calories a bit more to create a new calorie deficit since your metabolism slowed down accordingly to save energy (another long subject that needs explanation). You may also need to increase your calories if fat loss stops! You would do to kick-start your metabolism again. Anyway, the point is that one-size fits all diets do not allow you to track your progress efficiently and thus make it harder to make more progress when weight loss stops. The scale doesn’t tell you the whole story.
Here is a sample diet:
breakfast: 1 slice of whole wheat toast
Lunch: 6 oz. of chicken breast
1 cup of milk
Dinner: Big salad + 3 olives
Cup of yogurt
I literally just came up with this sample diet. Easy, huh? Well, it may be easy but it’s garbage! Imagine eating the above-listed foods EVERY SINGLE DAY for the next 12 weeks. You WILL lose your mind! One-size fits all diets lack flexibility and do not give the dieter much control over what they eat, when they want to eat or even how to prepare those foods! Instead, those diets are written as if they were set in stone. This tortures the dieter unnecessarily both physically and mentally. Physically, it doesn’t allow the dieter to enjoy different foods and still make progress while supplying his body with different nutrients coming from variety of foods, which can be counterproductive because if you work against your body, your body will win. Mentally, eating the same foods everyday just seems like psychological torture. Might as well enlist as a prisoner in Guantanamo while you are it! In fact, prison would be better because you would at least get the chance to eat something different almost every day. Just kidding. Anyway, mentally, the dieter will eventually get bored of eating the same foods every day and may end up quitting altogether thinking that dieting is hard and that he cannot transform his physique while enjoying a healthy diet.
Boring food choices
I noticed that most popular diets have one thing in common; they all involve eating boring foods! Eat broccoli. Eat carrots. Eat bla bla bla -insert common boring food here-. Who the heck wants to eat broccoli every day? I know I don’t, although I do like broccoli. Plus, broccoli is an amazing food. Anyway, static diets have this trend of being built on raw boring foods without giving the dieter the option of any substitutes or different cooking methods. Once again, this cane cause frustration and quitting.
Enjoyability and sustainability
Building up on the last two points, the best is a diet that YOU can commit to while enjoying yourself. Transforming your body is not an easy task nor an overnight thing, it requires consistency and paying your dues. If you decide to follow a static diet, you will be limiting yourself in terms of food choices and thus won’t be able to enjoy your diet plan and will probably not be to sustain it either. Guess what you will do eventually? Yup, you will quit!
On a more sophisticated level, static diets have set-in-stone food selections and thus macronutrients’ content. Once again, due to different genetics, starting points and goals, you simply cannot give everyone the same amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and expect them to make stellar progress. Each one of them will have different bodies that require different ratios of macronutrients to keep making progress. Static diets lack this crucial component.
Someone who is trying to lose fat cannot follow the same diet as someone who wants to build muscles. One will require a caloric deficit and lesser macronutrients to lose fat. The other person will require a caloric surplus and a specific number of macronutrients, fiber and nutrients to build muscle mass. Two different destination require two different approaches (diets).
Some static diets are just plain stupid. In addition to lacking intelligence and a scientific foundation, some diets just have weird rules. For example, some diets require people not to eat apples after 3pm! What the heck?! WHY? Some diets instruct dieters to avoid certain foods like the plague for no apparent reason. Some diets are just STUPID!
So, if all diets are stupid, what’s the best diet?
The best diet plan is one that fits YOUR own genetics, goals, starting point and individual needs. Luckily, creating your own customized plan to support your goal is easier than you think. In fact, I just started writing an extensive guide on how to right a custom yet perfect diet plan to reach your goals. This guide will include easy to follow steps based on logic, science and simple math. Best of all, it’s INCREDIBLY easy and for FREE! Here is the pilot of the series:
Basics of Creating an Effective Diet Plan
Make sure you read every single article of the series and follow all the steps. Dieting doesn’t have to be stupidly limiting or torturous. A diet plan that you can commit to and enjoy while making progress is the best diet plan ever! Don’t follow the crowd or fall for new trends and fads. Create your OWN custom diet plan NOW!