The word diet can go DIE. I hate the term diet because the fitness world has developed a hybrid term that encompasses both weight loss and nutrition. Weight loss and nutrition are two separate goals that should NEVER be confused. Weight loss is the desire to decrease body mass in the form of body fat (no body desires to lose muscle or bone mass). Nutrition on the other hand, is defined as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for HEALTH and GROWTH.
Weight loss is a simple goal. If you seek to lose weight, eat less. Weight loss is 100% based on energy intake vs. energy expenditure. If you eat more than you use, you will gain weight. If you eat less than you use, you will lose weight. Don’t believe me, keep reading. Mark Haub, a professor in human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate a diet consisting totally of Oreos, Doritos, Twinkies, and Soda for 10 weeks and ended up losing 27 pounds. What was the only variable in this experiment? Intake. He decreased his intake to 1,800 calories while maintaining an energy expenditure of 2,600 calories per day. Not only did he lose weight but he actually became healthier by improving his cholesterol levels (Nordqvist, 2010). The only limiting factor in this program was the lack of vitamins and minerals in these food sources.
Nutrition on the other hand is a very complex goal. Almost every athlete will plateau, more often than not, because of his or her food intake rather than his or her training methods. The body will only grow with sufficient resources. Therefore, any strength athlete will eat a gram of protein per pound of goal body weight. A 250-pound man will eat 270 grams of protein to continue growth. For those of you who do not know, 270 grams of protein is an immense amount and incredibly difficult to attain (that’s rougly 45 large eggs in a day). With this intake goal also comes monitoring your other macronutrients as to not create an unhealthy balance. Eating 45 eggs will give you the protein you need while exponentially also increasing your cholesterol and fat. Nutrition is not simple and requires a metric ton of discipline and calculation to get it down.
People always ask me how I eat to maintain the performance level I do. More often than not I eat relatively well. At the same point in time, my cheat days would probably make you sick. In one cheat day I will eat an entire pizza, a quart of ice cream, a bag of cookies, and on certain days Krispy Kreme bacon sandwiches (1. Make bacon 2. Cut original glazed Krispy Kreme Donut in half 3. Place two pieces of bacon in the middle 4. Sandwich the halves 5. Eat and repeat until you run out of bacon or Krispy Kreme’s, which ever happens first). Again, I do not do this daily, nor do I advise this as a successful nutritional plan. However, I am trying to articulate that I have used these above principles to outsmart my body with intermittent fasting. After eating like this, I will not eat for 16 hours. Then after fasting for two-thirds of a day, I put myself through a workout from hell including 500 pound deadlifts on a completely empty stomach. This will cause my body to consume the fat stores I have just created while simultaneously flooding my body with muscle building hormones.
In summation, please stop paying for these bull$#!+ diet plans that break the bank, make you incredibly uncomfortable, and ultimately don’t work. Know the difference between diet and nutrition and use those principles to outsmart your own physiology. Listen to your body but make conscious decisions with an understanding of how your biology works. Once you get your nutritional and training principles in line, you will reach your highest performance potential.