Addressing the word “diet” is crucial. Many individuals hear this word and automatically associate it with “weight loss”. This is not always what we are referring to when we use this word. Having a specific diet can be targeted to gaining weight, as well as slimming down. Heck, you could be on a diet to maintain weight, but boost definition while losing fat! Whatever the case may be, there are at least ten common issues I see people faced with when it comes to maintaining a diet.
- Educate Yourself – When establishing your goal, you need to be aware of how many calories you are eating. All too often, I see people trying to bulk up and put on mass. They get their supplements, start hitting the gym, but do not see any drastic results. How could this be? Well, they forgot to increase their calorie intake. The formula is simple: X – Y = Z, Calories Consumed being “X”, Calories Burnt being “Y”, and “Z” is what you are left with at the end of the day. So, if you eat 2000 calories but burn 2200 between the gym and throughout the day, you would be at -200 calories for that day. This only leaves one choice for your body: to use stored calories as fuel. We store calories via fat or muscle, and unfortunately, our body prefers to eat away at muscle stores for fuel. So, if you are trying to lose weight, it is important to prepare yourself and use an amino acid product like Redcon1’s Breach to help you stay “anabolic”, or in a “muscle building state”. This will help you maintain muscle mass during your diet. Back to bulking, it is vital to consume more calories than you are burning. Now, maybe your goal is not weight related whatsoever, and is more about overall appearance. That leads me to my next point.
- Do Not Trust The Scale – There seems to be an issue with people constantly hitting the gym, eating right, and not noticing a big difference when they step on the scale. If you are simply trying to boost muscle definition and lose fat, there is no need to worry if you see the scale go up! If I were to hold a pound of fat, and a pound of muscle, the sample size of muscle would look quite a bit smaller than the fat portion. The reason being, when talking about volume, muscle weighs more than fat! This is why, in this situation, you should put your trust in the mirror. If you feel better, and look better, the scale can display whatever the hell it wants. I have seen many people, men and women, who have added ten plus pounds and look extraordinarily healthier than they did prior to training. This is a result of clean eating and consistent training. Muscle is in, fat is out!
- Cravings – Ah yes, the dreaded cravings. These are especially dangerous for competitors, as every macro nutrient seems to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. We have so many advertisements thrown in our faces when it comes to fast/unhealthy food. You must ignore temptation! I understand; we want our sweets. Luckily, the fitness industry is loaded with healthy alternatives to help ease our woes. There are many delicious forms of protein bars that can satisfy even the most vicious of cravings. Shakes can be a great treat too! Check out any of Redcon1’s protein powders such as Isotope or MRE. These delicious proteins can be mixed with other ingredients like peanut butter, almond butter, yogurt, honey, and many more! Blend it all up, and you have a fantastic, healthy alternative to junk food! You may be wondering about a cheat day, or a cheat meal. Yes, it is ok to spoil yourself every once in awhile! I would definitely limit it to once a week so you do not go backwards with your diet. Maintain focus! Staying on the right path can be difficult, especially if you do not have the right people in your corner.
- Negative Influences – Unless you are trying/have tried to lead a healthier lifestyle, it can be hard to understand why we, the people in the fitness world, can be so stingy when it comes to our diets. Because it can be hard to understand, some people may try to tell you to “lighten up” or coax you into eating somewhere/something that you are not comfortable with. It is TOTALLY ok to put your foot down and explain to them what your goals are and how you need to stay disciplined. They may or may not understand, and that is ok, they do not need to. It is your body and your choice! So the next time the husband, wife, or friend encourages a trip to the closest fast food joint, that is when it would be a good time to suggest making a trip to the grocery store and having a healthy, home cooked meal! It could potentially be more expensive, but there is a way around this.
- The Cost Of Healthy Food – We live in a world today where you can buy ten cheeseburgers from a fast food place for the same price it would be to purchase a nice, lean steak. It is downright sad! Financially, more people would find it smarter to opt for the cheaper route. Unfortunately, the cheaper way is usually detrimental to your health! Put an end to this line of thinking, because we do have a cost effective way to eat healthy: Buy in bulk! Luckily, we have many locations that offer large quantities of nutritious food at a discounted price. Instead of buying the two-pack of chicken breasts, or a single small bag of broccoli, buy a dozen chicken breasts and a heaping bag of broccoli! This will also help when it comes to meal prepping, which is also essential to a good diet.
- Meal Prepping – Eating healthy meals multiple times a day can be difficult. Today, we are all about convenience, and I highly doubt any of us have time to cook a full meal more than twice a day. The solution: get it all done at once! That is right, take time, whether it is in the morning or evening, to prepare your meals for the day. Cook everything up at once and use Tupperware containers to store your meals. I will give you an example. When I leave the house, I will have two meals consisting of chicken, broccoli, and brown rice, all cooked and ready for consumption! This way, when it comes time for lunch and an afternoon meal, I can quickly heat up my food and have it ready to go. That is another factor you will want to be mindful of; making sure you give yourself time to eat.
- Maintaining A Schedule – Our days can be hectic, and I cringe when I hear people say “I didn’t have time to eat”. You must allocate time for yourself to eat. If you have to wake earlier to eat breakfast, so be it, you will just have to go to bed a bit earlier. Do not use your lunch break at work to goof off or take a nap. Use that time to enjoy the meal you prepped earlier! And finally, you arrive home after a long day at work, the gym, whatever it may be. Do you go to bed and wait until the morning to eat? Of course not! Having a meal before we go to bed is crucial, as we do most of our recovering while we sleep! It is necessary to provide ourselves with nutrients before we sleep to ensure maximum recovery. I like to keep a jug of Redcon1’s MRE with me at all times, just in case! Not only do I use it post workout, but also if I get in a pinch and do not have food readily available. MRE is a great product, as it covers all of your macros from real whole food sources!
- Not Training – Sure, you will benefit from a healthy diet with or without training. This being said, there is only so much a proper diet will do for you. If you want better, faster results, I highly recommend going to the gym, especially if you are trying to build muscle and/or muscle definition! If your diet is structured around losing fat, cardio, such as running or biking would be a phenomenal add-on to your routine! Training will help speed up results, but do not try to speed up results with unhealthy eating.
- Do Not Rush Your Diet – Yes, we want fast results, but eating way more than you should to bulk, or eating much less than you should in order to lose weight can be costly, and unhealthy. If you have a body weight you want to work up to, calculate how many calories a day you need to get to that weight, and gradually work towards that goal. Slowly add in extra calories day by day until you have reached you target. If your goal is 4000 calories a day and you are currently at 2000, try adding 100-200 per day. The same principle applies to lowering calories. If you present your body with a drastic change in caloric intake, you may notice yourself being tired, cranky, and just plain and simple, in a bad mood. Rushing your diet may also throw your metabolism out of whack, which could lead to unwanted weight gain. Slow and steady wins the race!
- Be Patient – This may sound similar to point #9, but this is in regards to your overall results. Once you start a diet, give it time before you start judging its effectiveness. Committing to a healthier lifestyle does not a mean you will see a change overnight. Give yourself a few weeks before you step on the scale, or look in the mirror to closely analyze your progress. Stay consistent, and I promise, you will see your hard work pay off.
Bulking, cutting, or just being becoming a healthier version of you is not magic, it is literally science! These steps are simple to follow and understand. It may seem like a lot, but so did addition when we were in kindergarten. After repetition and commitment, it became a breeze! So with this. Follow these tips, and you will be on the right track to achieving your goals. Lift on my friends!
By Garrett Skurnit