Top Diet Tips, from the Best Fitness Bloggers and Personal Trainers on the web
After our last successful fitness expert roundup post (about the biggest newbie mistakes they see people do at the gym), we have just finished a new one! We asked 17 fitness experts the following question:
What is your number 1 tip for sticking to your diet plans?
We all know that coming up with a diet plan is one thing, but actually sticking to it can be hard. And your diet is just as important as actually working out (some may argue it is even more important!). Here are their top tips and advice. Be sure to check out their website or follow them on twitter if you want to see more advice from them.
Sam Yang (All Out Effort)
We don't want to starve ourselves, we know the dangers of that. But on the flip-side, we must also embrace hunger. What I mean is, hunger is a natural part of the human experience.
It's like our emotions. If you've ever seen the Pixar movie Inside Out, the movie uses real neuroscience to explain that we need all the emotions to have a complete and healthy mind. In avoiding sadness or any other emotion other than happiness, we make ourselves frail and vulnerable.
It's the same way with eating, in always avoiding the sensation of hunger, in thinking it's always a problem to be solved and we must always feel full — it only detriments our health. To occasionally be hungry doesn't mean there is something wrong, it means you are a sensory being who is experiencing wholeness.
In a world where people love extremes, I have to be careful with my words, but I have found that this extreme fear of hunger is what leads people to overcompensate, and eventually fall out of the lifestyle they were trying to live. It needs a little emphasis so we can regain balance.
Isaac Payne (Isaac Payne)
The number 1 tip for sticking to a diet plan would be to not drastically reduce calories. Make a small gradual adjustment so it's not such a shock and doesn't feel like deprivation. This will help with compliance in the long run.
Marielle Burch (Fit Girl Pretty World)
My biggest tip for sticking to a diet plan is to have a specific goal of WHY you are even starting a diet plan. If it's not something personal or that you are passionate about, your motivation is going to waiver. Either write down your goal and look at it everyday or take a picture of what you want to achieve and look at it everyday. Constantly reminding yourself of WHY you are on a specific diet plan will help to keep you motivated!
Izzy Narvaez (Powerlifting To Win)
The number one tip I'd offer here is to change your behavior as little as possible in the service of the diet. The more that you change, the less likely it is that you're going to stick to the diet.
Many people become recluses for a few months or eat a completely different menu than what they'd normally eat during the rest of the year. This creates a situation where they not only have to use their will power to stick to a new eating plan, but now they have to erase deep seated habits as well.
The less you have to change about your lifestyle the better.
To boil it all down, stay flexible and stay committed to sustainability.
Ashley Pitt (A Lady Goes West)
My number one tip for sticking to your diet plans is to make sure that you aren't eliminating too many food groups and being too strict at first, because that will set you up for failure. Start small. Think about fixing 1-2 meals a day by making them healthier and then allowing yourself to have 1-2 cheat meals a week to enjoy whatever you want. Moderation and small steps are the key!
John Fawkes (JohnFawkes.com)
Keep a public log of everything you consume. That means EVERYTHING other than water- meals, snacks, coffee, booze, if it goes in your mouth, let your friends know about this. The best way to do this is to create a Facebook folder or Instagram feed, and upload photos of every single thing you eat or drink. The act of taking the photos builds diet awareness and makes you think twice about what you're eating but more importantly, making the record public creates massive social pressure for you to stick to your diet.
Jan Graham (Cranky Fitness)
The only way to stick to your diet plan is to pick a diet that allows you to eat as much as you want of anything you like. In other words, a diet that won't do squat towards getting you healthy and lean.
Accept that if you pick a reasonable healthy diet plan to follow, you will NOT always stick to it. You are human. Be prepared to troubleshoot when you screw up, in a calm rational way, and get right back on track. As opposed to freaking out and going all "OMG I screwed up, I suck, I'll never change, bring on the Cinnabons and Ben and Jerry's, I'm doomed!
Christine Bullock (ChristineBullock.com)
Find healthy alternatives to your favorite foods: I love pizza, so I created a recipe that uses squash, flaxseed and almond flour for a sweet pizza crust, then add a pesto (or tomato sauce) with arugula, tomatoes and olives.
I crave it more than Domino’s now. I include this recipe and other healthy alternatives like coconut or banana ice cream, homemade chocolate, quinoa burgers, parsnip chips and carrot fries in my nutritional program for Evolution 20.
Life is about enjoying every day and that includes your food, so make sure to DEVOUR life and DEVOUR foods that provide energy, life, and longevity.
Dawn Fletcher (Mentality WOD)
My #1 tip for sticking to your diet plans is to join a community with others who are committed to the same plan or lifestyle. Going through the challenges and breakthroughs with others is far more impactful and motivating.
Plus, you can help each other out and you have people to hold you accountable too!
Blake (Building Muscle 101)
The hardest part to any diet plan is knowing what to prepare for the first two weeks.
I personally make sure all my meal plans are in accordance to my overall goals whether it be for gaining lean body mass or cutting weight. Once I have my meal plans in place, I record them in a 7 day weekly calendar which I stick on the fridge along with a grocery list.
By having your meal plans on your fridge you can see what you need to prepare for the day in addition to following days. Beleive me, it's alot easier to see what you need to prepare than trying to figure it out on the fly. I always do my shopping on Sunday morning so all I have to do is take my grocery list with me, buy my groceries and I'm set for the week.
After a couple of weeks, you'll get the hang of it and alter your plan according to your tastes and dislikes.
I may even take it one step further and stick a photo of what I'd like to look like by the end of my program. This is a powerful way to make sure you stay on top of your meal plan and don't turn to junk food.
Nick Tumminello (Nick Tumminello)
DON’T Go on a Super-Restrictive Diet.
In every fad diet there is always some specific enemy. If it’s not a type of macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate, etc.), it’s a type of food or a list of what’s off limits. Interestingly, some of the foods that are on the no-no list of one magic-bullet, cure-all diet are emphasized as “good” in a different magic-bullet diet. If this isn’t enough to highlight why these types of restrictive diets are based mainly on great marketing, keep in mind that -- just like workout trends -- every few years there’s a new diet claiming to be better than the last. It’s no wonder these diets never seem to gain any credibility among the legitimate medical and scientific community.
So what does work? In addition to practicing moderation, the research to date has shown that 1) there are multiple dietary approaches that work and 2) most important factor that will determine fat loss and improved health outcomes on any diet is adherence. So, follow your personal preferences over a fad when it comes to your diet because this determines long-term adherence.
Keith Lai (Fit Mole)
My #1 tip?
Understand yourself, your own behaviors, lifestyle, and gain a massive sense of self-awareness.
These days everyone is trying to find that "hack" or ninja "trick" to burn 23.45% more body fat.
It doesn't exist (if it legitimately did, we wouldn't have an obesity problem).
There is no perfect "one size fits all" diet.
People need to find an approach that fits their unique lifestyle.
Some people do better on less carbs, some do better on more.
Some like eating 3 meals per day, some like eating 6.
Don't follow what that super hot fitness model on Instagram is doing just because they say their way is best.
They are not YOU.
Do an audit on your own life and daily habits and find what works for you.
Nicole (Foodie Loves Fitness)
I think the key to sticking to a diet plan is not being too extreme. If you completely cut out all indulgences, you're going to develop intense cravings for them. I always strive for moderation, and enjoy helping my health coaching clients to do the same. One way that I stick to a diet plan in a balanced way is by finding healthy substitutes that still satisfy whatever taste I'm craving - whether sweet, salty, chocolatey, or something else.
I also think it's important for people to realize that it takes awhile for our bodies and tastebuds to get used to different, healthier ways of eating. For instance, people that cut out refined sugars might initially get serious sugar cravings, but they'll eventually subside. A key to sticking to it is to remember the end goal and why you started.
Dr Emily Splichal (Evidence Based Fitness Academy)
My #1 tip to sticking to a diet plan is to not call it a "diet" or think of it as a punishment or restriction from the things you love to eat. Dieting is much like rehab I recommend for my patients. If I give them too much at once they mentally shut down and don't do anything. Try to make small changes - one at a time - and view it more as a lifestyle change. If you add in one change every couple weeks they become habits and lifestyle patterns.
Suggestion is to start with adding vegetables to every meal. Or switching from regular milk to skim milk. Or switch from soda to water with lemon.
Jennipher Walters (Fit Bottomed Girls)
Give yourself lots of self love and wiggle room! It's important to not restrict yourself too much --- otherwise you end up overeating (not to mention it's just not fun). In our book, The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet, we recommend following the 80/20 approach. 80 percent of the time, eat healthy. 20 percent of the time, eat what you want. Always be mindful, follow your hunger and fullness cues and enjoy every bite -- guilt has no place on your plate. 🙂
Kathleen Trotter (KathleenTrotter.com)
Set yourself up for success!
Preparation, preparation, preparation!
Healthy eating doesn't take a huge time commitment, but it does take advance planning and mindfulness! Have food prepped in advance. Have easy to assemble healthy foods already prepped and waiting so you can make up a healthy meal as quickly as you can microwave pizza.
On sunday make a big batch of a healthy soup or chili, cut lots of vegetables, grill chicken, cook some quinoa and beans and / or wash spinach or kale. That way you can create a healthy salad or quinoa bowl in minutes.
Have healthy "grab and go" breakfast and snack options prepped so you have no excuse to grab a muffin or a chocolate bar! Hard boil a bunch of eggs. Then grab one of them plus a few cut of vegetables for a healthy meal in literally seconds. Make a smoothie the night before. Then drink it as you leave the house. Leave apples and unsalted nuts at work, or better yet, if you have a fridge at work leave some yogurt or almond milk at work and mix in some Chia seeds and a banana for a fast and fibre-filled meal or snack.
Also, know you will have moments of weakness. Don't set yourself up for failure - don't keep Crap in the house.
This is a personal non negotiable. I love chocolate and if it is in my house I will eat it. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Why give yourself the possibility of indulging mindlessly? Sure, at the grocery store you can tell yourself that you will be disciplined, but you won't always have the same resolve. Set yourself up for success - don't tempt yourself. If you want a treat go out and have a small portion at a restaurant or at a friend's house.
Mario Tomic (Shocking Fit)
Make it enjoyable, and it's okay not to be 100% perfect.
I think a lot of people have a belief that eating healthy and hitting your daily macros means doing chicken, broccoli and rice 6 times a day while measuring every single gram on a scale.
And it's naturally to assume that aiming for perfection is good but in reality this mindset completely kills the enjoyment making the diet unsustainable in the long term.
A goal of a healthy nutrition plan is to make 80-90% of your daily intake come from whole unprocessed foods.
And this 80-90% should be unprocessed food you enjoy eating and you won't have trouble sticking with it in the long run.
Enjoyment is a big factor for dietary adherence, and as human beings we won't stick with something long term if we don't find it enjoyable.
And for those more advanced who like to count macros I know hitting everything 100% perfect gives one a sense of control (I've been there) but with this mindset one can easily fall into the "all or nothing" trap.
So what happens then on those days you're not hitting your goals 100% you'll start feeling like you've failed your diet completely. I've seen a lot of these situation lead to massive binges, and going completely "YOLO" mode.
Instead, setup flexible macro nutrient targets and ranges. If you miss to get 10g of protein for a day your muscles won't fall off, it's fine. I feel a lot of people beat themselves up too hard and put extremely high expectations on themselves especially in the beginning. Remember, it's okay no to be 100% perfect. Consistency will beat perfection every time.
Thanks to everyone that took part! If you want to be included in any of our future expert roundup posts, send us a message.
The admin staff at Gym Geek are all gym rats who love to share their fitness advice and knowledge!