As a certified fitness trainer and nutrition specialist, clients often can’t wait to fill me in on the latest and greatest diet trends that they’re dipping their toes into. The conversation typically begins by me asking my client to run me through an average day of eating, then slowly turns in to them telling me about how Suzanne down the road — whose health and fitness education amounts to a couple Google searches — shared how the ketogenic diet has helped her lose 30 pounds. So naturally, my client gets all revved up to try keto because that’s obviously what gets the job done, right? Not necessarily.
Now that I have all the hardcore keto advocates’ attention, let me explain: This column is not about how much I disagree with different dieting techniques, keto notwithstanding. In fact, I believe when keto is done right — meaning worked in with other nutritional programming — it can 100 percent work for people looking to lose weight and trim down body fat.
Whether you want to eat a high-fat, low-carb or a high-carb, low-fat diet, the biggest factor for healthy individuals with no special diet recommendations from a doctor will always come down to energy expenditure versus energy intake. To simplify, in order to actually lose the weight, you have to be in something us nutrition gurus like to call a “caloric deficit.”
It doesn’t take much for most of us to spend at a financial deficit, but a caloric deficit is harder to accomplish. So how do you know that you’re eating the right amount for what you do on a daily basis? A simple basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculation by a trained professional can help you figure that out. Sure, you could look these calculators up on Google and do it yourself if you need to, just remember that your initial calculations will only lead to a starting point. You will need someone who knows what they are doing to guide you the rest of the way.
There have been countless studies that prove why there’s not one single diet that works more than any other for losing the weight you desire. Eating for ketosis (hats off to you folks for leaving those beloved carbs), choosing to save the animals and go vegan or taking an all-natural caveman approach like the paleo diet are all completely up to you and your needs. Again, when it comes to cleaning up your nutrition and shaving off that extra fluff, I can’t knock any of these approaches.
Regardless of your personal approach, you must choose something sustainable for the long-term. If cutting all of the carbs from your diet without wanting to straight binge on bread, cookies and fruit after only a month is something that won’t be an issue for you, then go for it. The key is to be realistic with yourself before you put all your faith into a fad that you expect to do the work for you.
It’s a little-known fact that the majority of people who start a diet actually lose the weight they want to. As a matter of fact, Dr. Layne Norton states in his book Fat Loss Forever that six out of seven people who are overweight will lose a significant amount of weight in their lifetime. The problem comes with the follow-through.
There’s a not-so-surprising catch to the above-mentioned stats: 80 percent of those successful dieters will have returned to their pre-diet weight within just one year. That percentage increases to 95 in three years. Norton states that only 5 percent of people successfully diet and sustain it. He goes further to say that about one- to two-thirds of these people who relapse will have gained even more weight back than their previous weight.
This is a continuous cycle for the majority of the population; we call it yo-yo dieting. It can be completely detrimental to your body in the long run, and it’s the reason why sustainability, seeking a trained professional for guidance and not following the crowd is so important. Being able to bring yourself out of an extreme caloric deficit correctly, using any approach, is very important.
So the next time Suzanne asks why you haven’t started keto, ask her how long she thinks she will sustain it. She might be one of the very few people who are able to (You go, Suzanne!), but you do you and whatever you think will work best for you mentally.
Brittney Pereda is the founder and owner of eXtreme Body Benefits, a fitness and nutrition company based in south Charlotte.