Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. While I don't agree with this 100%, I do think it's about 90% true. I have athletes come to me all the time asking why they aren't getting leaner. The most important factor to obtaining a measurable change in body composition is your diet. When I talk about diet, I am not talking about going on a fad diet like the South Beach Diet. I am using the word "diet" to describe what a human consumes on a daily basis. In our culture, we have started to associate the word "diet" with a quick fix. People tend to loose sight of the the decades they have spent making poor dietary choices which have resulted in the state they are currently in. People today want results yesterday. Unfortunately, if you want real, sustainable results, this process takes time. You can't just complete a quick "Whole 30" and expect your body to change and reverse all the damage you've done the previous 30 years of your life. A person needs to make a complete lifestyle overhaul in order to enact the change in their bodies that they desire. The key to this is finding an eating plan you can realistically stick to FOREVER. In the next 2 weeks, I will discuss a few options of diet plans that people can use as a framework in order to have success! Up first are the Paleo and Zone Diets...
I love the framework of the "Paleo" diet as it focuses on whole foods. Any "diet" that I suggest will have it's roots in eating unprocessed, real food. Think of your body like an automobile. If you are filling your gas tank with sugar, you will not get very far. Your vehicle will need check ups all the time, and you'll most likely need to replace expensive parts more often than needed. Eating a diet filled with whole food options is easier than people think. You will need to prepare, to some degree, as the success, or failure, for most people hinges on having food ready to eat. So, making a bad choice on a whim isn't an option when you have food prepared.
I am not a huge fan of the verbiage when it comes to the Paleo diet. People still tend to overeat carbohydrate on this diet. I have found that carbohydrate is the enemy of health in most cases. Most folks that are hardcore Paleo are shoveling serving after serving of fruit, sweet potatoes, or other starchy carbs into their mouths. "It's ok! It's Paleo!" You have to factor in the effect a food group has on your system when you eat it. Fruit is sugar; sweet potatoes are sugar. When you ingest sugar, bad things happen internally.
My suggestion is that if you are going to give Paleo a go, focus primarily on healthy protein and fat sources. Use carbohydrate sparingly, dependent on your activity level. Fruit should not be a staple in any of our diets.
"The Zone" is the diet CrossFit HQ recommends. I don't think it's realistic to follow this diet unless you're the type of person that enjoys organizing your sock drawer by color and function. This diet takes a high degree of preparation as you must weigh and measure each thing you put into your system. The pros, however, are that you can make changes to the diet easily since you know exactly what is going into your body. People who stick to this eating plan tend to have fantastic results initially. I just don't see this as a sustainable lifestyle for the long term. At some point, weighing and measuring your food is going to become tiresome. I also don't like the food choices you can make while on the Zone. You can eat subpar food choices as well. Each food has a number (or, block) associated with it. This Zone allows for bad choices to be made, ie: 1/4 of a doughnut is equal to 1 1/4 cups of broccoli. Anyone that knows how foods effect the body internally know that these two food options are not equal in any way. The doughnut is going to spike your insulin levels while the broccoli will not. This does not even take into account the vitamin and mineral differences between the two. While Zone does make a distinction between favorable and unfavorable food options, people can still justify making bad choices.
That's all for now! Next week, I will discuss the regimen Coach L and I use "Carb Nite" as well as it's brother "Carb Back Loading."
The descriptions above are very loose, and there are much more that goes into each diet. We will discuss each diet more in depth down the road. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.