Nutrition: are we as compliant as we think we are?
With formal diets fading out and the idea of implementing sustainable lifestyle changes on the rise, the phrase “it’s all about balance” has been thrown around quite a bit. As someone heavily involved in the health/fitness industry, but also someone who enjoys high calorie beer as much as the next person, I couldn’t agree with this more.
The question is: are we truly being honest with ourselves about how balanced we actually are? Or are we justifying our daily lunch dessert with this very phrase? Ask yourself: how often am I using this as an excuse to have something I should probably stay away from?
According to fitness guru and expert blogger Tony Gentilcore, we should be at about 90% compliance with our nutrition in order to elicit steady, positive changes over time. That means if you're a ‘weekend warrior’ who eats clean during the week and then says screw it on the weekends, you may want to reassess your approach; five out of seven days will only give you about 70% compliance. Plus, it is more likely than not that we are shy of 100% during the week anyways. This approach can also backfire in terms of how much we are letting ourselves go on these ‘free’ weekend days. If your ‘cheat meals’ on Saturdays and Sundays are 2,500 calories apiece, you may actually cut into all the progress you have made throughout the week.
A better approach may be to give yourself the 10% daily - whatever that may be. But the key is, it should actually only be 10%. If you are grabbing something from the forbidden snack table at work 6 times a day muttering to yourself “it’s all about balance” each time, that is more than 10%.
If you are a quantitative person, it may be helpful to actually map out what this 10% will look like. Say your daily expenditure is 2,500 calories and you aim to consume 2,000 or less daily in hopes of losing one pound or so per week. That means about 200 of these calories can come from your indulgence of choice - a beer, cookie, latte, etc. If you are looking at it calorically, you can choose one day of the week where you go over your target intake; however, don’t let yourself go above 2,500 calories. Note: this is not to say that you must count calories to make this work. If that is not your thing, there are other ways!
All in all, the fundamental idea here is to simply be honest with yourself. If you are serious about changing your diet, make sure you are as ‘balanced’ as you say you are.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS