The overall quality of your diet (what you eat ) is determined by the type of food choices you make.
While the number of calories you consume determines ultimately whether you gain, maintain or lose weight, all calories are NOT equal.
The problem with most plans is that dieters tend to try and be too restrictive. While of course this can work and will give you the fastest results (if you can stick with it long enough), the problem is just that. Most people cannot stick with it long enough.
Higher quality foods have so many benefits in terms of more nutrients. They are much more likely to be higher in vitamins and minerals, fibre, phytonutrients and micronutrients.
Clients and regular readers will know that I recommend nutrient dense foods as much as possible.
And while yes, as stated above, calories are king, making sure you meet your nutritional requirements will help you to stick with your plan because you’ll have more energy and mostly, these kinds of foods are also a lot more bulky. Meaning you’ll feel fuller faster and you’ll usually feel fuller for longer.
So how can you eat enough quality foods and still not miss out on your favourite treats?
Some people are really good at sticking with a reasonably restrictive plan if they can look forward to treats 1 or 2 times per week. Others need to have some of their favourite foods every day.
You’ll need to determine what works best for you and then all you need to do is factor those foods into your calorie allotment. What the heck does that mean?
Well if you like to have a glass of wine with dinner a few times per week, you’ll need to factor the calories in that wine into the number of calories you have the day you have the wine or over the week.
I’ve had clients reduce their daily intake by say around 100 calories each day, meaning that on Saturdays, they have an extra 600 calories to play with when they head out for a meal or plan to have a couple of drinks and some nibbles.
Others prefer to use 100-200 calories (or more) of their daily intake to eat those squares of chocolate (insert fav snack) each day.
There are many ways to do this and yep, you could just eat junk all day every day and stick with your calories. But for the reasons above and general overall health and well being, I highly recommend making good food choices most of the time.
Remember if you feel good and you’re not hungry, you will be much more likely to stick with your plan long enough to see results.
And if it’s not too restrictive, you can then keep moving forward to reach your goals and then beyond. In other words, there’s no need to go backwards because you ‘come off’ or stop your diet. It becomes just your normal, healthy way of eating long term.
How do you know how many calories you need to stick with? There are many online calculators that can estimate for you. The best way to find your exact number is to eat and record accurately for a couple of weeks. If your weight doesn’t change, you’ve found your maintenance number. If it goes up, you need to eat less to maintain or lose and vice versa.
A coach can give you a more accurate calorie target by using your body fat percentage, age, activity level (both exercise and Non-exercise levels) and how fast you want to see results. Even then, it may be an experiment to see if that figure is accurate for you by carefully recording for a couple of weeks and seeing what happens.
One thing I can tell you (from personal experience and from the experience of my clients over the past 13 years) is that having support and someone who knows what they’re doing helping you with the calculations makes it so much easier.
When you’re doing it yourself, you second guess, change things to soon, stick with things too long or you just jump from one thing to another too often. A coach can help you to trust the process, explain what’s happening, help you to accurately measure and change things if and when needed.