What is considered to be the best diet?
- Low carb
- High fat
- Weight watchers
- Intermittent fasting
- Flexible Dieting
It can be one of the above, nothing is magical about any of them, its whatever ‘diet’ you enjoy, therefore can stick to, and it’s the long term adherence that will get you the results. The best diet is one that creates
- Calorie deficit
The fitness industry does a great job of over complicating ‘dieting’ and making quick financial gains by promising the world through fad diets.
No one wants to hear that you need to be in a calorie deficit and the fact it takes time to lose body fat.
The truth is that all diets work, they all do the same thing by ensuring you eat less; ultimately, the one you can adhere to and enjoy is the right one for you. I will be talking about the importance of adherence for dietary success in my next blog.
Is the answer to drastically lower calories in hope for quick weight loss? The evidence suggests not. The following table shows the 3 different calorie deficits and the total amount of weight loss over a 12 week period. So let is not always more. Energy, hunger and adherence have to be factored in when deciding on how much of a calorie deficit to create.
|User A||User B||User C|
|Energy Prescribed (kcal)||1100||1600||1,700|
|Estimated Energy Requirement (kcal)||2600||2500||2,400|
|Estimated Energy Deficit (kcal)||1500||900||700|
|Projected 12 week weight loss||39||23||19|
|Actual 12 week weight loss (lb)||6.4||7.3||11|
Now the lets workout the calories needed to lose weight. I will go through 2 methods, a simple one that uses just bodyweight and a more advanced/accurate formula using BMR and lean mass
Take this figure BODYWEIGHT (in lbs) and multiply by 13 = Fat loss
BODYWEIGHT (lbs) x 15 = Bodyweight maintenance
For example 180lbs x 13 = 2340 calories (this is just a very rough estimate but does give you some ground to work from)
Once these calories have been set, they will have been tested and modified over a few weeks depending on what the scales show.
Firstly we need to work out your BMR (basal metabolic rate), find your lean mass in kg (bodyweight – body fat weight) to find this check your bodyweight (for example 200lb)
Next find your body fat (using calipers preferably, bodyfat scales are ok but they have a lot of fluctualtion)
So, for example we will use Client A
Bodyweight: 200lb (200/2.2 = 91kg)
Fat mass (kg) = (bodyweight (91kg) / 100 ) x 20 = 18.2kg fat
Lean mass (kg) = bodyweight (91kg) – bodyfat (18.2) = 72.8
Using Client A lean mass figure (72.8) we can input this into the following equation
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x lean mass kg)
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x 72.8)
BMR = 370 + (1572)
BMR = 1942 calories ( this is an estimate to how many calories your body burns at rest)
Next we must factor in the clients activity levels
Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
Lightly active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk)
Mod. active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
Very active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
Extr. Active = BMR X 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2X day training, i.e marathon, contest etc.)
If Client A currently exercises twice per week, then we multiply the BMR figure by the activity figure above (1.375)
Total calories burned = 1942 x 1.375 = 2671 calories. (remember this figure is Client A’s bodyweight maintenance figure)
For fat loss simply begin with reducing these calories by 20%
So 2671 / 100 x 20 = 534
2671 – 534 = 2137
Assessing Protein Needs
The one component that needs attention is protein content which needs to be set based on the following:
- Hunger levels – If you regularly feel hungry, it might be a good idea to push protein up to the higher ranges as protein is really good for satiety.
- How much of calorie deficit you are in- If you are in large calorie deficit, you can increase protein ensure you are holding on to as much muscle as possible.
- Preference- If you prefer protein-rich foods and therefore more likely to adhere to the diet, you might want to set protein towards the higher range.
How to set a daily protein amount? For simplicity sake, I would recommend 1g per lb of body weight. for example
150lb bodyweight = 150g protein
The rest of your calories are made up of fats and carbs. How you distribute those is entirely up to you, if you prefer a carb-rich diet, then opt for that.
Are low carb diets better for losing weight? The studies show that there is not much difference between low carb and low-fat diets for long term weight loss. The most important factor for long term success of a diet is adherence, so which ever you enjoy the most and can, therefore, comply to long term is the best option.
The latest studies on different types:
Wu et al recently completed a thorough review of the full range of diet types, from low-carb to low-fat, and virtually everything in-between, their conclusion being:
“Moreover, the difference in weight loss among these diets is only 1-2 kg or less, which appears to be of little clinical significance. Therefore overweight and obese people can choose many different weight-loss diets on the basis of their personal preferences.”
Picking the best personal diet option involves doing a bit of homework which includes the following:
Analysing your lifestyle
When do you prefer to eat?
Do you like to eat late at night?
Do you eat out regularly?
Do you get hungry mid morning?
What are your food preferences:
Incorporate foods that you enjoy. Find llow-caloriealternatives.
Identify your setbacks:
Late night snacking?
What is it you want to achieve from the diet both in the long and short term.
Lose body fat?
Answering the above will help you to identify your weaknesses, likes and dislikes and therefore enable you to put a diet together that caters for your individual needs. ‘Dieting’ doesn’t have to be all about chicken and broccoli and eating out of plastic containers, If you are prepared and know what you want to achieve then you can create an individual diet plan that reflects your lifestyle and food preferences.
Helms ER, et al. A Systematic Review of Dietary Protein During Caloric Restriction in Resistance Trained Lean Athletes: A Case for Higher Intakes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013;24:127-38.
Wu H, Wylie-Rosett J, Qi Q. Dietary Interventions for Weight Loss and Maintenance: Preference or Genetic Personalization? Curr Nutr Rep. 2013 Dec;2(4):189-98.