Diet vs Lifestyle: why you should focus on the latter

Let me ask you something:

Have you ever found yourself on a diet to lose weight?

I can’t read your thoughts here, but the answer is probably, “Yes, of course. Who hasn’t?”

The fact is, dieting is an incredibly popular (and highly controversial) topic in the world of fitness. Everywhere you look, there seems to be yet another hot diet that promises you the world. The Atkins diet used to be quite popular, then the paleo diet took its place, and now keto and carnivore are all the rage. Soon enough, another diet will rise and sweep the world of weight loss.

But, no matter what diet is currently popular and ‘the best one ever,’ each has one fatal flaw.

Dieting, By Definition, Implies Something Temporary

The biggest issue with diets is that they are temporary. Even if you don’t set out with the idea of, “All right. I’m putting myself on this diet for 90 days, and then I’m going back to my old ways.” sure enough, it always ends up that way.

But why is that?

One word: sustainability. You see, diets, in general, are not sustainable. Sure, you can get yourself motivated and push hard for a few weeks or months. But, eventually, the restrictions and cravings for your favorite foods will become too much to bear. For most folks, this leads to binge-eating and rapid regain of lost weight. So, naturally, you feel guilty for erasing your three-month progress in a couple of weeks, so you put yourself on a different diet.

“It has to work this time!”

And the cycle repeats, slowly forming into what’s famously known as yo-yo dieting – rapid gain and loss of weight that not only leaves you frustrated and disappointed but also leads to a poor relationship with food and can cause serious health issues down the line.

What You Need: Something Permanent, a Habit

You can’t expect long-term results from short-term efforts.

It simply doesn’t work that way. This is why relying on a 90-day diet (or something along those lines) to help you lose weight and keep it off is a poor choice.

What you need are lifestyle changes and better habits.

If you want sustained weight loss, don’t chase the latest diet or count calories like crazy. Start building good habits like:

  • Eating more slowly;
  • Drinking more water and less alcohol, juice, and soda;
  • Replacing highly-processed foods with whole and nutritious alternatives;
  • Exercising regularly;
  • Sleeping at least seven hours per night;
  • Learning to tell hunger from boredom

There are many other great habits, but those are a great start. Sure, this doesn’t sound as exciting as most diets do, but this is what sustainability is. You’ll achieve much better results in the long-run than if you hopped from one diet to the next.

And if you’re interested in finding a reliable personal fitness trainer in Dubai, head over to Fitlov, let’s start working toward your long-term results together.

Diets Are Often Very Restrictive

Most diets generally control every aspect of your nutrition tightly:

  • the what (your food choices)
  • the when (e.g., imposing a specific meal frequency)
  • the how much (quantity).

Significant restrictions like these might work for a while, and deliver some quick results, but that’s not something you can keep up for a long time. We’re humans, not robots. Our days don’t always go as planned, and we can’t always adhere to a given meal plan and eating frequency. Plus, there are social occasions and the like which we should be able to enjoy. Folks who go on a diet often find themselves feeling like social outcasts because having meals out is a nightmare to them. As you can imagine, this isn’t the best recipe for long-term success.

Take, for example, the ketogenic diet – after all, it’s quite popular these days. Plus, it works because it helps you control your appetite, and sticking to caloric restriction is easy. But the diet is also incredibly restrictive. You cannot eat any carbs. Realistically, how long do you think you can last on it?

And that’s not even the most extreme example of restriction. Many nutritional practices out there make the ketogenic diet feel like child’s play. For the most part, you should ask yourself, “Is this something I can do for a decade? How about for the rest of my life?”

Long-term results are deeply rooted in long-term efforts.

What You Need: Achieving Results at a Sustainable Pace

Granted, ‘sustainable pace’ certainly isn’t a buzzword. It doesn’t rally up as many people, it hardly sounds exciting, and it doesn’t sell diets.

But it’s the way to go.

You see, for you to stick with something in the long-run, it needs to feel sustainable, a part of your lifestyle. Rather than go on a diet that restricts 90 percent of your favorite foods, start with the simple habit of eating a nutritious breakfast. Sure, you won’t lose weight rapidly, but you can more easily build on that positive behavior. You can then improve your lunch and dinner. And instead of eating a Snickers bar in the afternoon, you can replace it with an apple or a banana. But you need to start slow, make gradual improvements, and build on them over time. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed, but you’ll still make some good progress while you’re at it.

Before you know it, your eating habits will have changed for the better, and you will have lost weight. You’ll feel much better about yourself; you won’t feel overly-restricted, and, more importantly, you will be able to keep up that way of living for years, even decades.

Diets Make You See Food as Black and White, Good or Bad

Have you ever come across an article with a headline like, “Avoid these five foods if you want to burn fat”?

The problem with such statements is that they enforce this ‘black and white,’ ‘good and bad’ mentality toward food. Folks who don’t know any better come to believe that, indeed, some foods are inherently good, and others are bad. The problem is, most diets restrict certain foods because they deem them bad.

This brings about guilt when you eat ‘bad’ foods and satisfaction when you eat ‘good’ foods. But the base of a healthy relationship with food is the polar opposite of this all too common black and white mentality.

What You Need: A Flexible Approach to Nutrition

Rather than looking at food as either good or bad, you should acknowledge them as more and less nutritious – this is the essence of flexibility.

You see, if you begin looking at foods as good or bad, you start placing unnecessary restrictions on your nutritional choices and unneeded guilt if you happen to eat something that’s deemed ‘unhealthy.’

Weight changes (be it gaining, losing, or maintaining) all come down to the number of calories you consume. If your goal is weight loss (as is often the case for people on a diet), you need to create a caloric deficit (i.e., eat fewer calories than you burn every day). How you achieve that matters much less than most people imagine. Your body will use the calories from a donut just as well as it will use those coming from a lean steak. But the steak will have a higher nutritional value and will benefit you more. So, does it mean that you should avoid having the occasional donut? No, it doesn’t. It merely means that the donut is less nutritious and should be enjoyed in moderation. But nothing is to say that eating donuts (and other similar foods) is automatically going to make you get fat. Moderation is key.

And this is what I want you to take away from the whole thing:

Don’t demonize foods. Don’t avoid something (especially foods you enjoy) because someone out there deems it ‘unhealthy.’ Recognize that certain foods have a higher nutritional value and should be prioritized. And those foods that aren’t as nutrient-rich should be enjoyed in moderation.

The Bottom Line on dieting

Dieting isn’t all bad because it teaches us valuable skills like eating in moderation and making a difference between hunger and boredom.

But diets carry some significant drawbacks that, in our opinion, create more problems than they solve. So, if you’re looking for long-term results and good health, ditch the mentality of dieting (the temporary fix) and instead work on establishing positive habits. And if you’re looking for a fitness professional (a personal fitness trainer or a fitness trainer in Dubai), we’ve got you covered.