Making an effective and sustainable diet plan can be daunting if you’re not equipped with the right information.
It can become very frustrating and confusing trying to get information on dieting because of the plethora of false, misleading information available to us.
You’re so tired of trying to change or so fed up with your current state of well-being that you want results now.
Because of this, you seek unhealthy and/or unsustainable diet plans that promise quick results just to end up right back where you were when you started.
It happens to just about ALL of us! So, don’t fret over it.
The good news is that if you skip the gimmicks and quick fixes and focus on the fundamentals, you will make progress that lasts (albeit not as fast as you may want, and that’s something you HAVE to accept and prepare for).
Below are 4 key aspects of making an effective AND sustainable diet plan that will bring you long-term success.
The 4 key aspects of making an effective & sustainable diet
1. Create a caloric deficit:
In order to lose weight you have to be in a caloric deficit. So, before worrying about anything else, we need to calculate an appropriate deficit (500-1000 calories below Total Daily Energy Expenditure)
Regardless of what you’ve told “matters most” for losing weight, outside of safety, caloric deficit is king. Without it you will not lose weight.
For this reason, your first priority (when aiming to lose weight) is to ensure that you are in a caloric deficit.
2. Eat more whole foods (and minimize processed/fast foods): Many focus so much on special/superfoods, removing a macronutrient altogether (such as fat or carbs), crazy eating patterns, etc instead of just focusing on healthy, nutritious whole foods.
Time and time again, studies show that diets do not work for long-term weight loss. People cannot seem to continue them long-term. Instead of trying to simply eat better and less (improving quality and controlling quantity) many continue to seek specific diets and meal plans that 9 times out of 10, lead them right back to square one.
Whole foods are more satiating (filling) and much more nutrient dense (a lot of nutrients in a smaller volume of food compared to processed foods). So, not only will you likely eat less but you will be getting in the necessary nutrients your body needs to function effectively with the same amount of calories.
Processed/fast foods are much higher in fat, sugar, and sodium while usually having insufficient amounts of other nutrients. Because of this higher amount of fat, sugar and sodium they are much more pleasing, and therefore easier to overeat. You end up eating more of the food, feeling less full, and taking in more calories. Skip the fads and specific diets and focus on increasing the amount of whole foods in your diet. Foods such as; lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, etc.
3. Take in sufficient protein:
Protein can be very satiating (compared to fat and carbohydrates, not including fiber) as well as aid in the preservation of muscle mass when dieting. Achieving fullness more quickly and preserving muscle are two key aspects of effective weight loss.
Protein is known for its ability to help you achieve fullness quicker (higher protein meals and/or foods being more satiating than high carbohydrate and high fat meals/foods). The quicker we achieve a feeling of fullness the less food we are likely to eat. And as mentioned earlier, caloric deficit is king for weight loss. So food intake is extremely important in creating such a deficit.
Obviously, other tips such as eating more slowly, eating an adequate amount of fiber, and possibly using smaller plates and/or bowls will need to be implemented with this adequate protein intake to have the greatest effect on satiety. As far as muscle preservation goes, the more muscle we can maintain while losing weight means the better our overall body composition will be in the end.
Things such as very low calorie diets, skipping resistance exercise, insufficient protein intake, and excessive cardio lead individuals to an unfavorable and ineffective weight loss. By that I mean, they lose just as much (if not more) lean tissue as they do fat tissue and therefore are left with a body composition not much different than before. A smaller body, but still a poor body composition.
4. Do not make drastic nor abrupt changes/take things slow: Most of us (arguably all of us) prefer to avoid change (i.e, we like when things stay “normal”). The less “normal” something is to us the more likely we will head back to our old, more familiar ways. For this reason (among others), it is best to make small, reasonable changes to your diet instead of quick, abrupt ones to increase your chances of long-term sustainability.
As hard as it can be to take things slow, more often than not, it will lead to greater chances of long-term success. You have to continue to remember the big question; would you rather lose (insert goal weight) lbs in 2 months just to gain it back within weeks or months (because the methods used were not sustainable) or lose the goal weight in, say 4-6 months through developing healthy habits and therefore keep it off?
Sustainability is a key aspect of a diet because as soon as the diet stops, the results it produced will go with it. And 9 times out of 10, small steps that are as “normal” as possible are the way to go for long-term success.
Some key points are; Skip the fads, gimmicks and quick fixes. Accept that weight loss is a process that take time and effort and focus on what TRULY counts!
And what does count for an effective weight loss diet?
- Creating a caloric deficit
- Focusing on whole foods
- Taking in sufficient protein
- and take small sustainable steps
Many waste years focusing on all the wrong things when it comes to dieting for weight loss.
Maybe you’ve wasted some years yourself. The good news is that with the information provided above you can be put on the right path and start making some real, lasting progress.
I hope that you found this article helpful, and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.
Please feel free to like and/or share if you enjoyed it and/or feel someone you know may benefit from reading it.
Best of luck with all your fitness goals and keep pushing forward towards that leaner, stronger, healthier version of yourself.
Note: Never make changes to your diet before running it by your physician and/or a registered dietitian. This information is for healthy individuals, not in any disease state and for informational purposes only. Always put safety first!