When I’m in an airport, as I am now, I can’t help wondering about the lives of the people I briefly encounter. I ponder where they’re going, if there’s anyone waiting for them there, or missing them while they’re away. Mostly, like me, people sit quietly scrolling on their phones while they wait for their gate to pop up. However, the guy next to me, nailing a full English while necking his second pint of Stella, has a different plan. It’s 7 am, and he’s not even left yet, but the holiday restriction rebound has already hit hard.
I’ve seen it enough times to spot it. I can tell by the pasty look on their faces, and the helpless stare in their eyes. The hard, arduous diet they have endured to get beach lean is over, and before their feet have even touched the sand, they’re 4,000 calories deep in lager and second-rate airport food.
To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, but refusing to eat any carbs or overly restricting foods you love is a sure fire way to ruin your best-laid plans, or to gain all the weight you worked so hard to lose back in two blow-out weeks. No one needs to diet on a holiday, but by keeping in the foods you crave during your cut with smart planning, you have a greater chance of enjoying your time away without regretting it when you get back.
For any diet to work there needs to be some level of restraint, but how you restrain yourself is important. The difference is all about your mindset.
Give something up and it’s usually the first thing you think about. I can’t even start to imagine the number of conversations I’ve had that start with “oh my god, I can’t wait to eat carbs again”, and sometimes leaving certain foods, or even entire food groups out of your diet seems like the natural thing to do if you want to drop weight fast. However, putting limits on your food choices can actually backfire.
- In a study by Loria-Kohen et al, they took two identical diets and applied them to two groups of people.
- The only difference was that one group was not allowed to eat bread.
Not so bad you might think, except that the people on the diet who couldn’t eat bread:
- Slipped up or went off their diet more often
- Ditched the diet and dropped out of the study completely
A diet that restricts even one thing you might normally like is harder to stick to and results in falling off the wagon more than a diet that allows for whatever you want.
My clients work for demanding companies and have busy social lives. They don’t come to me so I can tell them to eat no white carbs for 12 weeks, they need me to manage their weekly Calories so they can get closer to their goal weight without giving up on the odd Nando’s.
My friend and client Bee, who recently lost 20% of her body weight while still managing to eat brownies and Chelsea buns on a weekly basis put it best:
”I knew that no diet was going to work for me if I wasn’t allowed prosecco, big brunches and the all important cheeseburger on a Saturday.”
There are several ways you can do that and still see the scales drop at the end of each week.
- By having an idea of the number of Calories you should consume to lose weight, you can set those Calories any way you like.
- Many of the people who start working with me are worried that if they go over a certain amount of cals on any given day that their diet is ruined, but it’s the average by the end of any 7 day period you should think of, not the day to day fluctuation.
- At the start of the week when you’re less likely to go out, you could have very low-Calorie days, with much higher days towards the end of the week where burgers and prosecco are more likely to happen.
Some of my clients prefer a more routine Calorie deficit across the week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be flexible with food choices.
- If you want to keep things simple and consume the same number of Calories per day, you could try allocating 20% of your intake to something you really love.
- If having 1,500 Calories per day, that would equal 300 cals on whatever you want.
- That’s a whole tub of Halo Top, a brownie, or 4 glasses of prosecco!
Keeping these foods in your diet all the way from the beginning means you’re not going to feel deprived when you reach your goal. Unlike my new friend from the airport, you’re less likely to lose your shit when you get to a cafe if you’ve managed to eat bacon sandwiches all the way through your diet.
Choosing to not eat foods you actually like on a diet is a one-way ticket to falling off the fat loss wagon or gaining all your weight back in a matter of weeks. You need to consume fewer Calories than you burn to lose fat, but if you’re smart about setting up your diet, you can do it in style.
Build a roadmap to your physique and health goals now and learn the skills to stay on the path forever: