Dieting. It's a dreaded and feared subject. We know of die-hard dieters, yo-yo dieters, and everything in between. And for every type of diet out there-Atkins, Vegan, Dukan, Paleo and more-there seem to be more rules than there are dieters.
The sheer volume of diet Dos and Don'ts could fill a national library. But, what many people don't realize is that by playing by the rules, they may be sacrificing results.
It's time to break the taboo about dieting. You can break well-established rules and still see results. And breaking one or more of the following 5 diet rules could actually help you see better results!
Not everybody needs to break all 5 diet rules listed here. In fact, there are specific reasons for breaking each one. If you don't need to break the rules, and you're seeing great results as is ... well, then why are you reading this article?
It's because you want to feel like a rebel, don't you? So do I. So does everybody. Everybody wants to be a maverick, a rule-breaker. And you can do this with your diet, if you do it right. So I'm going to show you how.
Rule #1: Extreme Dieting For "Fast" Fat-Loss Results
What's the reasoning? If you dial in your diet like a pro and cut calories heavily, you'll likely lose fat pretty fast. The thinking is that anyone who wants to see extreme results has to be an extreme dieter. This is the "I eat plain chicken breast and broccoli 6 times a day" dieter. Yes, you'll see results. That's if you know you can tolerate the hunger, food cravings, fatigue, increased irritability, and feeling of being restricted.
You should break this rule if ... you regularly fall off the diet wagon. When restriction overwhelms you, leading to a day or week of binge eating and intense guilt, you might not be cut out for extreme dieting.
Strict dieting isn't for everyone. If you have an emotional connection to food then it might prove impossible for you to stick to an extreme diet. Often times you'll yo-yo between almost thin and overweight. At this point, breaking this rule is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Recognize that food is a weakness, but that sticking with healthier food choices is the No. 1 factor in your success. Take small steps to clean up your diet and think about eating as a lifestyle, not a 5-week crash test where you end up as the dummy.
It's imperative that you match your diet to what you can psychologically handle. While you may want to get the fat off as fast as possible, for you, the slow and steady approach may actually be the most efficient.
Rule #2: Same Foods, Different Day
What's the reasoning? Convenience and easy preparation. The easier you make your diet, the easier it is to stick with it. When you know that preparing meals for the week only involves cooking enough chicken, broccoli, and brown rice to feed an army of dwarves heading off on an adventure to fight a treasure-hoarding dragon...well, you get the point. It's a simple solution to a diet problem that easily overwhelms. Stick to the basics, and you'll see results.
You should break this rule if ... you get bored and want to get various vitamins, minerals, and a wide array of nutrients from your food.
You don't have to subscribe to one diet menu to see results. If you grow bored easily and start thinking about eating out and breaking your diet, then you probably just need more variety. Broccoli is not the only vegetable on the planet, and chicken is not the only protein source. I'm sure you know this, but you just need a supportive nudge in the direction of a varied diet.
Of course, it's important to have a plan. But your plan can be based off of a spectrum of vegetables, complex carbs, and protein sources that can be mixed and matched for any given meal. Your body will thank you for the wide variety of natural nutrients you get when you eat a wide variety of foods. You might even see better results because you are giving your body more quality nutrients.
When you know all of the various foods you CAN eat on a diet, it makes dealing with diet obstacles a bit easier. Flexibility is key for dealing with travel, schedule interruptions, or a night out on the town with loved ones.
Rule #3: Zero Cheat Meals And Nixing All Your Favorite Foods
What's the reasoning? Diet is 80% of your physique results. The thinking goes that even one cheat meal or one meal with your favorite food could ruin your chances of reaching your fat-loss goal. So don't plan for cheat meals and forget about your favorite foods if you want your diet to work for you.
You should break this rule if ... you love food. If you don't love food, then you probably don't have to worry about it. You'll never even think about a cheat meal. However, for the rest of us, existing in a state of deprivation for weeks on end is not a sustainable situation.
I definitely advocate the "cleaning up your diet" cupboard sweep. Get rid of the Cheez-its, Nestle chocolate milk powder, brownies-in-a-box, ranch dressing, Mac-N-Cheese, and ... did I miss anything? Oh yeah, the Ho Hos and Oatmeal Pies have got to go too.
But just because you don't store these foods at your home doesn't mean you can't eat one of them once in a while. When you've been eating clean for an entire week one Oatmeal Pie isn't going to nullify your entire diet. Any food can be part of a healthy fat-loss diet if you practice portion control and work the particular cheat meal or cheat food into your total daily/weekly calorie and macronutrient totals.
It's the 90/10% rule at work. If you eat right 90% of the time, you can save 10% of your diet for the foods you love. This works out especially nicely as a reward system. If you don't skip a cardio or lifting session for 10 days, you can reward yourself with a treat. You just might notice your motivation skyrocketing.
Rule #4: Eating 5-to-8 Meals A Day To Boost Metabolism
What's the reasoning? Portion control during a calorie restricted diet, normal blood sugar levels, and maintaining a good metabolic burn. All in all, these are good arguments for sticking to the 5, 6, or 7 meals per day recommended by many in the fitness world.
You should break this rule if ... you just aren't hungry in time for your next meal. Or also if you are going a little bit coo-coo for CoCo Puffs trying to cram in too many meals in one day.
Meal scheduling is not nearly as important for success as making sure you meet your total macronutrient and calorie needs, so prioritize the big picture to see better overall results. If that means you eat four meals a day versus six then that's okay. Again, dietary adherence trumps the details.
Rule# 5: Carve Your Own Nutrition Path Through The Fat Loss Jungle
Okay so this is one rule I do want you to follow. You should figure out what works best for you when you decide to change your diet. Ideally you want to sustain healthy nutrition for your whole life. And if that's going to happen, you'll have to be flexible sometimes and very focused other times.
Nutrition is a science, but you also have to match your nutrition needs to your fitness goals. If you want to lose fat and reveal a toned and strong physique you'll have to incorporate a higher amount of clean protein sources in a calorie-reduced diet. But there's much more room to play with your diet than you think.
Your diet really does need to match your personality in order for you to succeed. So go ahead and be a rebel ... I dare you.