Most people associate the word “dieting” with “suffering”. The two words are just inextricably linked. I’d go as far as to say that most people can’t even conceive of a diet that does not make you abjectly miserable.
But that’s not because diets – or losing weight more generally – is inherently depressing.
It’s because they’re doing it wrong.
The vast majority of people make dieting far harder than it really needs to be.
Yes all diets require sacrifice.
Obviously they all require discipline.
But there are things you can do to make your dieting efforts significantly more successful. You can make it easier for you in terms of willpower and enjoyment, and you can make it more successful in terms of the amount of fat lost.
I’ll now go through some of the best tactics to employ during your diet to make the process both more enjoyable and ultimately more rewarding.
Choose A Sensible Caloric Deficit
According to the Editor of LIVE Magazine, this is where the vast majority of people fail their diets; right at the first hurdle! He said: “It’s amazing that for all the effort people put into executing heir diet, they don’t put anywhere near as much effort into the planning stage, but that’s really where diets succeed and fail. If people make poor decisions at the start of a diet, they’re never going to finish it. The man who chooses a 250 calorie deficit is always going to find the diet more sustainable than the man pushing for 500.”
The LIVE Magazine editor said that in his own experience as an athletics trainer and personal bodybuilding coach, the more realistic, long-term focused diets yield better results than the more extreme diets. He told me: “I’ve seen people radically underestimate how many calories they need to still function as an athlete while dieting. They just pull a number out of the air and find that it just doesn’t work at all. I’ve also seen people think that they can make up for a poor diet with a ludicrous 3 week super-cut in the run-up to show. Neither approach works.”
Instead of just eye-balling a number for your deficit, it’s vital that you make the effort to actually work out your baseline metabolic rate and detract a number that allows you to still function as an athlete while losing weight.
It’s also important that you don’t try to just do the same diet as somebody else because they have a similar body type” to you. Even if someone looks like you, there’s no way to tell if the same diet will work for both of you. You need to try some different things and see what works for you.
As a general rule, nobody should be shooting for more than a 300 calorie deficit per day. Doing so will leave you feeling weak; your training will suffer, as will your physique. If you run it for long enough, your health will suffer; your testosterone levels will drop off and you’ll start accumulating fat.
Start with a 100 calorie deficit and increase it steadily over time.
Increase Cardio Instead Of Dropping Food
When talking about caloric deficits, everybody thinks that you need to drop food.
But a caloric deficit is just a relative term – it means you are eating fewer calories than you’re burning.
So eating less food is just one way to enter a caloric deficit. The other is to do more exercise.
You don’t need to be running marathons to increase your caloric deficit; any increased activity which expends extra calories will do. So that includes walking, jogging, calisthenics, higher volume weight work in the gym,, swimming – ANYTHING!
This technique is perfect for bodybuilders who do not want to jeopardize their muscle growth by cutting too many calories. Instead of ditching precious protein or complex carbs – which their muscles need to repair and grow – they will just up the cardio through walking, step mills, or light jogging.
Many people find this a lot easier than dieting alone.
This method is far more conducive to developing a lean, muscular, healthy-looking physique. Your body will not be simply catabolizing tissue while you rest; it will be being forced to adapt to a higher workload overall, which means more muscle growth and faster recovery.
This last point is important. Athletes have even given the advantages of light cardio a formal name – active recovery.
The idea is that light walking after your training increases caloric expenditure while getting your muscles full of blood and working lightly. This prevents stiffness, promotes repair and nutrient delivery, and makes your diet easier!
So instead of dropping an extra 100 calories to shed extra fat, why not do an extra 3000 steps round the block after dinner? Both options put you into a deeper caloric deficit, but the extra steps will promote recovery while making you an all-round more functional, more athletic person.
Prioritize Filling Foods
When it comes to losing weight, it is pretty much 95% about calories.
If you’re eating more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight, and vice versa.
However, if we’re talking about how to make a diet easier or more successful in practice, the food that you eat becomes very important.
For most people – non-competitive bodybuilders and amateur athletes included – then the macronutrient composition of foods isn’t the main concern. So no, your priority is not protein intake.
The most important consideration is satiety, or how full a food leaves you.
Prioritizing food that keeps you full and full of energy for longer will make dieting a lot easier.
Eating foods which give you a nice, slow, sustained supply of energy will help prevent the blood sugar crashes that make donuts and soda so appealing.
Choosing foods which are extremely filling will also help you avoid over-eating or snacking.
According to LIVE Magazine, this might actually be the ‘magic bullet’ that people are always looking for when it comes to dieting: “We don’t believe that there is a quick fix for dieting, but we do believe that opting for filling, nutrient dense foods which provide a slow release of energy is always going to make dieting easier. It doesn’t matter who you are; if you’re dieting right, then you’re eventually going to be battling with food cravings! Eating ‘slow release’ foods like oatmeal, or filling foods like glucomannan noodles – these are extremely effective tactics in our experience”.