The early stages of any new diet can be the hardest. You’re giving your diet a complete overhaul and it can be tough. The end goal is usually the same – to transform the body. Whether you want to bulk up or shed the pounds the way you need to approach reaching the goal is the same, and the approach you need to take (and accept) is a step-by-step one rather than making one big leap.
So what does this mean? For healthy change things need to progress gradually. It might be tempting to take shortcuts to lose 8lbs in a week, but however good the results start off they can’t be sustained at that pace. Whatever diet you would need to embark on to lose that weight that quickly will not be sustainable and in the long run it can cause you to become more unhealthy. Quick fix diets are just that – they aren’t supposed to offer a long term diet plan and they will often lack in vital nutrients and vitamins and even fat that your body needs to function properly. That’s right – the body really does need fat regularly! Of course we don’t mean fat-laden junk food or snacks, we mean good fats like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s. Good fats are vital in controlling your weight, maintaining mood levels and keeping up your energy. Your body also stores some fat as protective mechanism. Work in foods like nuts, fish and oils into your diet to maintain a healthy level of good fats. This also applies to those wanting to gain weight. Opt for the foods high in good fats rather than succumbing to bad fats to increase your weight. You’ll find your physical performance is much better and you’ll be a lot healthier.
Whilst on the subject of fat, a common go-to diet change is to opt for ‘fat-free’, ‘low-fat’ and ‘sugar-free’ versions of foods. Logically this makes sense as these foods often contain less calories and they’re fat free so surely they are a good option? The reality is that they really aren’t. Some of these options remove the vital fats which your body needs to sustain itself, and in the foods where bad fats/sugars have been removed, they are often replaced with other ingredients which can end up being far more damaging than the fat/sugar that was removed – we’re talking preservatives and additives which have no place at all in a healthy diet.
When it comes to changing your weight – up or down, the healthy change should really be no more than 2lbs per week and the weight change should only be aiming to meet a healthy target. That magic number will vary depending on the individual as there are many factors that can affect it such as age, height, lifestyle and activity levels. Aiming for 2lbs a week is a realistic goal. You’ll need to cut down on what you eat but not drastically so you will still be able to get the nutrients you need to function properly – this is especially important if you’re also exercising. By changing weight steadily you’re also much more likely to keep the weight on/off.
We know that dramatic results can be extremely motivating, especially in the early stages but it won’t do you good in the long run. Stick it out and work a sustainable eating plan that will give you everything you need. It may take time but once you start noticing the results and benefits to your health you’ll be glad you took it step-by-step!