Tom, the personal trainer who founded Waite Training in Leeds has many tips to help you get started on working for your fitness goals.
When the goal is weight loss and toning up, the foundational principle you need to understand and apply correctly is about calories in and calories out. It can certainly seem confusing when you look at all the different diets available, and everyone has such strong feelings about which diet is the "best one".
So this article is going to explain as clearly as possible what matters when it comes to weight loss. Hopefully, it will cut through some of the confusion around dieting.
To lose weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit. That means, your body gets fewer calories than it needs to sustain its current weight. There are two main ways you can create a calorie deficit.
Either you eat less food than you need, creating the deficit through your diet. Or you use more calories up by being more active, creating your calorie debt through your training. Most people will do a combination of both these options. Still, without keeping a negative energy balance, the number on the scale won't go down.
Which is the Best Diet for Weight Loss?
There is no such thing. Every diet you have come across works the same way. They are different ways to create a calorie deficit. Some of these methods are easier for some people than others. Still, the principle of energy balance is always the same.
You can restrict the number of meals a day, or the time in which you're allowed to eat - sometimes called an "eating window". Diets like OMAD (one meal a day), or Intermittent Fasting work this way.
You can cut back on the number of food groups you consume. Diets like the ketogenic or paleo diets work this way. Similarly, pure plant-based (vegan) eating or the carnivore diet aims to achieve the same goal.
Some diets work better for some people than others, but they all work by restricting food intake.
Other Nutrition Tricks to Restrict Calories
Managing portion sizes is another way to cut back on calories, and it's not diet specific. You can use a done-for-you meal prep service, the hand size based portioning method, or you can even count calories and use an app like My Fitness Pal to track your intake.
For some neurotypes, they might prefer one of these diets over another. The "rules" surrounding that particular diet will work for them, and that will suit their preferences. That's fine, and it doesn't mean that you need to do the same diet as that person.
The diets all use different methods, but the principle of energy balance is the same. There are no single foods that you must avoid if you want to lose weight, not sugar, nor bread or pasta or potatoes, not even alcohol. If you want something in your diet, you can have it and still lose weight - provided you're in a calorie deficit.
How To Diet Properly
A mistake that many people make when starting to diet is getting too attached to the number on the scale. Whether you weigh-in daily, weekly or monthly, remember that that number you see at any given time can be affected by many things; weight loss or weight gain, of course, hormones in your body or even inflammation from training or stress.
Don't let one weigh-in get to you; focus on the trend instead over a more extended period.
Otherwise, you may become frustrated if the scale doesn't drop one morning, and this can cause a false sense of belief in what you do that results in diet hopping.
Being too attached to the outcome is a problem because you can't always control it on a micro-scale. However, you can focus on building good nutritional habits that will last you for a lifetime. This will lead to the changes you're looking for on the scale in a way which is sustainable, manageable and far more enjoyable.
If your diet is 100% perfect for a few weeks, but then you realise you can't stick to it, it's not the right diet for you. It's more effective to be 90% compliant with your diet, where there's a little bit of room for a slice of birthday cake or after-work drinks with your colleagues, and then get straight back on track. This is a diet that can fit into your life, it will get you the results that you want, and it won't feel like you're saying no to everything and missing out.
All a diet needs to be is finding a way to create a deficit in your energy balance. That could be done through strict dietary protocols or more flexible methods. Some people will work better with absolute clarity in their diets. Other people prefer a less "hard and fast" approach.
Whether you are required to count those calories or not on your diet doesn't matter; the calories still count. Finding a way to be mostly compliant with your diet, and then being patient will get you the weight loss and lean figure you desire. Bottom line: the best diet is the one that you can sustain long-term and still see the results you want.