Ketogenic diets, Paleo diets, Vegan diets...
It seems like every other month a new diet is "in" and people are all trying it out, hoping the new diet is the Holy Grail they have been searching for.
That magic diet which allows them to lose their fat and eat their cake too. Or at least a low-carb, gluten-free cake if you're following one of the popular fad diets...
The reality is that fat loss is not due to any magic foods, and fat gain is not caused by any specific evil foods.
To prove this point, nutrition professor Mark Haub lost 27 pounds eating twinkies, as discussed in the video above.
In fact, whether your diet is low-carb or low-fat is largely irrelevant, as long as you are consuming less calories than your body is burning. That's the recipe for fat loss, and it's the premise behind Flexible Dieting.
Flexible Dieting, or the form of dieting that acknowledges calories are the #1 factor in fat loss, has been shown to be equally effective as other named diets when it comes to fat loss. Considering that Flexible Diet approaches are generally more enjoyable and more sustainable since they do not carry as many rigid rules or restrictions, it's safe to say that Flexible Dieting is probably the best diet for almost everyone.
At least if the goal is long-term results.
Flexible Dieting still focuses on consuming 80-90% of the diet from whole, nutritious foods, but allows 10-20% of the remaining food intake to come from "less-healthy" foods, so long as overall calorie intake is keept low.
What this might look like is having 1 small cookie on some days of the week, or a slice of pizza at your kid's birthday party. With other diets, such affronts to the Fat Loss Gods would merit punishment and shame, leading most dieters to binge and go off the bandwagon as soon as they eat anything not prescribed by their cookie-cutter diet.
Some diets attempt to get around this by including "cheat meals" but cheating implies that you're doing something wrong, which leads to shame. That internal shame people feel when they "cheat" on their diet often turns cheat meals into cheat days, or cheat days into cheat weekends.
The end result isn't pretty.
Flexible Dieting eliminates this major obstacle that every dieter WILL run into by allowing the freedom to eat like a responsible adult who can enjoy a small snack periodically. The idea is that it's better to have a 200 calorie cookie if you're really craving it than to eat 2000 calories of junk food because you feel deprived of your favorite foods and then start to binge.
By allowing that 10-20% wiggle room we avoid the cheat meals, cheat days, and lack of results that plague so many dieters. Flexible Dieting eliminates cheating and implements sanity.
There isn't much of one. The only real catch with Flexible Dieting is that it does require maturity and the ability to take responsibility.
Once you realize that fat loss and fat gain are almost entirely determined by calorie intake, it means that you have to be responsible for how much food you're eating, and what foods you're focusing on.
That aspect isn't different from any of the fad diets you could be doing instead, but for fad dieters, failure is usually blamed on "having a sweet tooth" or the fact that you can't give up gluten even though gluten is the source of all evil.
With flexible dieting, if you're not seeing results, it's because you're not implementing smart strategies to reduce your calorie intake. Basically, you can't blame anything or anyone but yourself for your calorie intake.
And that scares some people. It's a lot more appealing to blame our metabolism, our spouse for bringing bad foods in the house, or the fact that sugar is the source of all fat and yet all foods seem to have sugar.
There's good news though.
If you're willing to take responsibility for your calorie intake, Flexible Dieting is by far the sanest approach and the most successful when it comes to long-term fat loss.
You don't have to ban any foods for life. You don't have to spend hours upon hours on a treadmill. All you have to do is reduce your calorie intake to a lower amount than the amount of calories you burn in a day, and fat loss WILL occur.
Sometimes it can take a while, but by taking a Flexible Dieting approach, you won't have to feel deprived or feel like every second of dieting is a living hell. Because that 10-20% allowance for "junk food" can make all the difference between success and failure with long-term fat loss.
Extreme approaches and fad diets have obvious drawbacks in that they aren't really sustainable because they're just too restrictive. Flexible Dieting doesn't have that issue.
With that said, it does take a lot of practice and patience. Like any other diet, you will still slip up. The difference now is that your flexible approach allows for that, and so you can simply make your next meal healthier in order to get back on track.
After all, you're only ever one bite away from being back on track.
If you're interested in Flexible Dieting, feel free to shoot me a message OR you can get started on your own by tracking your calories.
Perhaps the 2 easiest apps for this are MyFitnessPal and FitGenie (a new favorite of mine).
Combined with the right habits, Flexible Dieting is easily the best path to success in losing weight AND keeping it off.