Nutrition seems to be one of the most debated topics in the fitness industry. I’ve had numerous discussions or debates with other trainers about the value of tracking your food intake using some form of journal or nutrition diary. I argue in favor of using a journal or a free app like My Fitness Pal to track your calories and macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs), or to at least have some awareness of portions and approximate macro intake. Those who oppose tracking often recommend just “listening to your body” to determine how much to eat.
One of the things I’ve frequently noticed in interviewing new clients, speaking to other trainers, and communicating with other fitness freaks online, is how many different opinions there are and how much confusion there is related to fat loss nutrition. Some people are just completely clueless, while others are so devoted to a particular way of eating that their diet becomes like their religion!
People have some pretty strange ideas about their diet.
With so many different fad diets and nutrition protocols out there, it’s no wonder people get confused. For example, you’ve probably heard about: Paleo, Keto, Atkins, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low Fat, South Beach, The Zone Diet, Volumetrics, Raw Food Diet, Dr. Bernstein, No Carbs After 6:17PM, etc. That’s not even getting into tracking systems (calorie / portion control plans) like Weight Watchers or Nutri-System.
Now, I’m not saying that all (or any) of the above nutritional strategies are necessarily bad… there are probably positive aspects to most of them. But how do you know which ones are right for you, or which ones work best? And if it works, why? Part of the problem is that people don’t understand the basics of nutrition for fat loss and they start desperately grasping for a trendy quick fix plan to get results. Another issue is that many of those “diets” can not be sustained over the long term.
A friend and colleague of mine, Kane Sumabat, is one of the most fit, muscular, lean and aesthetic guys I know, and yet poptarts, pizza, hamburgers, and bacon are staples of his diet. How can he stay in such great shape while consuming all of that so-called “junk food”?
Keep in mind, those aren’t his cheat meals… they are just some of his food choices that fit into his carefully planned nutrition program. Once he described his nutritional philosophy to me I was interested to learn more about it, so I began to do some research. I’d like to share some of what I discovered in this article.
When it comes to losing body fat, gaining weight, and transforming your physique overall, the primary factor to consider is nutrition. Obviously an intelligent approach to training is necessary, but for most people if the diet isn’t on point the results will be disappointing.
With this knowledge in mind, what is the ideal approach to a solid nutrition plan? There are so many different “diets” available to us, how do we know what to choose? For example:
- There’s the popular low carb / no carb diets like Atkins or Cyclic Ketosis (which may work, but are unreasonable to maintain long term);
- Low-fat diets (which are ridiculous and unhealthy!);
- Paleo “Caveman” diet (which I actually like, but still feel it is lacking in some respects, such as tracking your nutrient intake);
- South Beach diet (may have health benefits, but is not comprehensive);
- Intermittent Fasting (this is more of an “eating schedule” than it is a “diet”. Learn more on my I.F. blog post HERE)
- Vegetarian and Vegan diets (again, despite some benefits tends to be very restrictive and difficult to achieve balanced nutrient intake)
And the list goes on and on. In this article I want to discuss two very popular nutritional approaches and compare the pros and cons of each. These two nutrition “plans” are called IIFYM and “Clean Eating.”