The Yo-Yo Diet:
Most adults nowadays understand that yo-yo dieting does not work for keeping your body’s composition lower in fat (remember it’s not weight loss, but fat loss we strive for). But many people still yo-yo without even realizing it. I have clients tell me all the time that they ate less on the days they didn’t work out, or they suffered through a longer cardio session to burn off the calories consumed the night before. While I do suggest, as an elementary rule of “eating” thumb that you burn more calories than you ingest, that does not mean that you should do it in a random whenever you think it’s right manner. The reality is that if you are working consistently (and effectively) on building or maintaining lean muscle mass (that does not imply you’re massive), then your nutrition needs to be consistent as well.
I tend to work out 4-5 days in a row, followed by 1-2 days of rest. I eat the same amount on the days off because I know that my muscles are burning up calories and fat even when I’m at rest, and if I want them to stay lean, I need to keep the fuel (especially protein) constant. Even if I have an evening out enjoying richer foods and wine or alcohol, I know that staying consistent with my nutrition and exercise in the following days will balance me out far better than binge exercising in response to binge eating.
A hot nutrition trend recently is that of eating meals backwards: starting your day with dinner (or a higher-caloric meal), progressing to lunch, and ending with a light breakfast type meal (eggs or yogurt+granola), etc. Many swear by this as being a successful approach to changing their body composition. Sure it works – it works because you are eating more earlier in the day, therefore having the fuel needed to get through your busy day, and eating less in the evening when you are sedentary.
In truth, you could still eat breakfast first and dinner last – as long as you followed the same concept of larger meals early, lighter meals later. But it is not the fact that you started with baked chicken and ended with yogurt that made the difference!
This topic piggy-backs a bit on the Yo-Yo myth, but deserves its own section as there are two types of cleanses to address.
First up is are the rampant breakfast cleanses-drink-recipes littering Pinterest Pins, Tumblr, and Instagram. The current headlining fads range from starting your day with 8 ozs of warm water, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper or cinnamon or 8 ozs of ice-cold water. Both claim to flush the liver and kidneys and get/keep the colon working efficiently – and both may work. But so does non-stop water consumption throughout the day, and a meal plan rich in fiber and whole unprocessed foods.
The second type of cleanses are days/weeks where an individual consumes nothing but fresh extracted juices (some suggest whole juices with fiber kept in, others want squeezed juices minus the fiber-rich pulp). Either way, if you drink nothing but liquid for 2-5 days, your scale weight will go down. But what have you lost? Fat? Depending upon your physical shape to begin with as well as the nutrition you resume once the “cleanse” is done, you will not lose fat and you if you do, it will come back if the rest of your nutrition habits are not healthy.
There are undoubtedly a myriad of other food myths I could address herein, but my real goal today is to remind everyone once again of my motto:
Everything in Moderation!
Following it is your best bet for long-term body-fat reduction and management, and a body that can keep up with your physical needs for decades.