Keto, intermittent fasting, carb cycling, IIFYM, the classic bodybuilder diet… So many “diet styles”!! What should you do?
One of the big problems for a lot of people when they want to start losing weight or just eating in a healthier way, is that they don’t know what exactly they should do. There are so many ways of doing things that it is very hard to tell which one “is the best”.
Well, I have good news and bad news. Bad news: there is no such thing as the perfect diet or the best diet. Good news: you can do whatever you prefer. Every single “diet style” works.
If you want to just eat healthier, what any diet will do is reach your daily calorie requirements in a specific manner (different ratio of macronutrients and/or different way of eating than other diets), but at the end of the day you are going to eat the same amount of calories with any diet.
And if you want to lose weight, all they do is decrease your calorie intake one way or another. The one thing you need to do in order to lose fat is to be in a caloric deficit, which creates a negative output in your energy balance (you burn more calories than you consume). That negative energy output can be achieved in so many different ways, and that is why there are so many different “diet styles”.
That being said, you need to follow what suits you best according to your preferences, schedule and daily routine. Any diet style will need sacrifices, that’s something you need to have very clear. The good news is that you get to choose what sacrifices you want to make.
In order to help you decide which diet protocol will suit you best, today we are going to talk about some of the most common diet styles, the sacrifices needed on each and to who do I recommend each one of them.
Before we start, just want to point out that this is going to be a very basic overlook of these diets and their main characteristic. If you want me to do a whole post about any of them, just let me know ;)
IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS (IIFYM)
Flexible dieting has become the most common diet style in the recent years, and no wonder why. It basically stands for the next principle: as long as if fits your macros, you can eat it. Essentially this means there are no food restrictions: you have a daily protein, carbs and fat goal and you can eat whatever you want as long as you hit those macronutrient and calorie needs for the day.
However, there are some details that need to be addressed.
Even though you technically can eat whatever you want (as long as it fits your macros), it’s no secret that the “healthier” your food choices are, the better you are going to feel. That’s why you will see that people who follow IIFYM eat fairly clean 80% of the time. So, even though you could technically eat 8 donuts a day as long as you don’t surpass your macronutrient requirements, I wouldn’t recommend it. You could follow the famous 80/20 rule. 80% of your foods should be “healthy” foods, while the other 20 % can be treats and cravings (as long as you hit your macros).
The only downside of this diet style is that you need to count the macronutrients of every meal you have, to make sure you consume exactly the amounts of proteins, carbs and fats you should.
To who do I recommend this diet style? To people that do not want to follow a restrictive diet and that have enough time to count their macros. Honestly, I would recommend this diet to every single beginner, since there are no food restrictions and it doesn’t feel like dieting.
If you decide to follow this diet, I recommend using any macronutrient tracking app (My Fitness Pal is the most famous) to know exactly what you are eating and make sure you don’t surpass your numbers for the day.
One of the most popular ways of dieting nowadays.
Intermittent fasting basically limits the time window you can eat in. There are different ways to do it and different time windows. To give you an example: Instead of having breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks here and there, you limit your “eating window” from 2 pm to 9 pm for example. You can eat only during those hours. Sooner or later than that, you can’t eat.
One of the big advantages of intermittent fasting is that there are no food restrictions either. Since you are limiting your eating window, you can eat whatever you want in order to hit your macronutrient and calories requirements for the day.
To who do I recommend this diet? To people that don’t like to eat breakfast and are not hungry till late in the day. If you are not hungry when you wake up, you just have a coffee and go to work and you don’t eat anything until lunch time, intermittent fasting may be a good option for you.
Tip: if you decide to try it, coffee, water and tea are your best friends. Whenever you feel hungry outside of your eating window, fill yourself up with one of those so you keep your stomach full. Also, stay busy so you don’t have time to thing about food.
Two words could define keto diets: low carb. Ketogenic diets are characterized by a high protein and fats intake and a low carbohydrate intake. Carbs and fats are the 2 main energy sources of our bodies, and while most diets are low/medium fat and high carb, keto diets are exactly the opposite.
This diet is commonly used to lose weight. On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat. Carbs are the main source of energy of your body, but since on a ketogenic diet you are running very low on carbs, your body needs to use fat as its main energy source. Also, since your carb intake is very low, your insulin levels stay low too, and when insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically.
However, once again, what this diet does is putting you in a caloric deficit by subtracting carbs from your diet. You can do keto if you want, but if you are not in a caloric deficit, you won’t lose fat.
How low carb is a keto diet? Well, as always there are different ways to do it. Some people stay under 20 gr carbs per day, some others under 50 and some others under 100. It depends how your body responds.
To who do I recommend this diet style? Mainly to people that really enjoy eating high fat foods and people whose bodies do not respond well to carbs. If you like cheese, oils, butters, fatty fish and meats more than high carb foods, keto is a good choice for you.
However, if you are using medication for diabetes or have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor first.
This diet alternates high carb days with low and medium carb days.
Depending on whether you are training or not, and what exactly you are training, your carb intake will be different. For example, on back day your carbs will be higher than on arm day, since back is a way bigger muscle group than arms so back workouts are more intense than arm workouts. Therefore, you will need more energy and carbs in order to train back.
To who do I recommend this diet style? To people that don’t mind eating a different amount of carbs every day and to people that want to try something different.
“CLASSIC BODYBUILDER” DIET
I just made up the name but what I am referring to here is the “rice and chicken diet”. Eating every 2 – 3 hours, same foods every day, meal prep, etc.
Actually, this is what I do. Not because I think it is better than any other diet, but because it suits me and my preferences better. I don’t mind having to eat the same foods every day and carry around my meals to eat every 2 – 3 hours. It gives me a feeling of consistency and progress that I don’t have with any other diet and that’s why I do it (I am a bit flexible sometimes though, balance is the key).
This one is not for everyone. I would say it is the most restrictive diet and if you are not ready to follow a specific meal plan without eating anything that is not on the plan, this is not for you.
To who do I recommend this diet? To people who, like me, don’t mind eating the same foods every day, following a meal plan and don’t want to track macros since they already know what they are eating.
That’s it for today’s post!! If you have any doubt, question, suggestion or constructive critic, please do not hesitate to let it in the comments section or use my social media.
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See you in the next one! :)