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The Controlled Dieter vs The Fast Dieter, Which Way Is Best?


When it comes to nutrition, you generally find a process that works amazing for one person could potentially have a catastrophic effect on another person.

Take the ketogenic diet – a diet that cuts carbs down to a VERY LOW amount, say 30 grams or less with a high intake of fat and moderate intake of protein.

Person A who favours eating fatty foods is going to thrive on this diet. They are going to be able to eat all the foods they enjoy and stick to it because this diet works for them.

Now take Person B who likes to eat a lot of carbs, well over 300 grams a day, functions well with this level of carbs and for whatever reason is given the ketogenic diet to follow. They now to start to feel sluggish, their performance is affected because their carb intake is lower and the likelihood of this person sticking to this diet is going to be unlikely.

What we have here is a single diet protocol that has the total opposite effect for two people.

Is it better for someone to lose fat as quickly as possible or as controlled as possible?

Well it all depends on the person.

We all want to lose fat as quickly as possible because you know the beach and all that. But trying to lose fat will come with consequences.

Controlled approach

If you are someone who wants to slim down for a holiday, a wedding or drop a dress size I would say you need to go down the slow-and-steady approach. Plan ahead and allow enough time to lose body fat at a controlled pace.

Sure, everyone wants results yesterday but you need to be willing to change the habits that have led you to be in a position that you are currently in, e.g. being overweight. Changes need to be made to diet, sleep, stress levels, mindset and a whole host of areas to stop you ballooning back up.

The greater your energy deficit, the greater your energy levels will drop. This will affect mood, motivation, discipline and will-power. In short you’re more likely to stray from your diet plan and mess up.

The slower a deficit the easier it will be to maintain as calories will be higher, which gives you more energy, which means motivation to stick to the plan is going to be higher. Which means likelihood of losing fat is going to be higher. You see the pattern here.

On a diet we want to keep calories as high as possible so that we can provide enough nutrients to our body and provide enough energy, which can be difficult on low calories. By crashing calories to a low amount we affect both of these big time.

For anyone that is not super-overweight or obese, fat loss is a slow process and dieting down takes time. The usual dieting advice applies (you can check back over past posts for more advice or my social media feeds for more info).

Sure you could do something geeky like cut carbs for a quick surge of weight loss on the scales, but this will mostly come from water weight rather than body fat. Carbs are stored as glycogen in the body and each gram of glycogen holds about 1-2 grams of water. So cutting carbs really only drops water weight. Trust me I’ve done this before and I looked terrible.

When somebody screams for instant results, 12 week plans and 6 minute abs it screams to me the person is not dedicated for the long term journey. At this point I question the dedication to change.

Fast approach

If you fall in to the obese or very overweight category I would recommend kick starting a substantial calorie deficit in the first 4-6 weeks of the diet. If nutrition planning is done correctly, you’ll have a surge of weight loss in the early stages of the diet.

This is HUGELY important; especially for someone who will be able to drop a lot of weight quite comfortably at the start of a deficit. It will create substantial motivation as results are apparent from the get go.

Once this person is at a healthier weight and results start to slow dramatically, which they will, it’s at this stage that the deficit reverts to a normal and sustainable deficit. Create lifestyle changes and go from there.

What does fast dieting look like? Anything up to a 20% calorie drop after energy expenditure. So if your currently eat 2,500 calories as maintenance, you could drop down to 2,000 calories. For everyone else stick with a 5-10% deficit.

How can we reduce calories by 20% you ask? A few tips include:

  • High protein intake as protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Measure protein intake at 2 grams per kilogram of desired body weight. A 120 kg male who wants to be closer to 100 kg should set protein intake at around 200 grams.

  • Drink plenty of water and ditch any drinks that have calories! It will keep you full and hydrated and lower calorie intake.

  • Drop a lot of starchy carbs like rice and bread (I know I said that dropping carbs is not going to be the best method, but again this will create a big weight reduction in the short term. Carbs can be brought back in down the line.)

  • Fill your plate with vegetables. Lots of vegetables. This will increase fibre and therefore fullness whilst keeping calories low as veg is low in calories.

Plenty more but you get the idea.

So you see, one approach is not one size fits all and this is the difficulty with nutrition.

If you have any more questions, shoot me an email or hit me up on my socials!

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