When I’m working with endurance athlete clients, I don’t expect them to eat perfectly 100% of the time. This is unrealistic.
Fad diets often set very high expectations, are strict and prohibitive, often expecting the individual to completely change what they are eating as well as introducing the latest weird and wonderful, often expensive ingredients.
I think that there are a number of potential problems with this approach
· Firstly it can intimidate people & scare them off even getting started
· It can cause an unhealthy relationship with food to develop where the individual can feel guilty if they eat the wrong thing
· It can promote bingeing which sadly results in yo-yo dieting
· Social occasions can be stressful if the ‘right’ food options aren’t available.
For all these reasons, I prefer to take the approach that no food is off limits when I put together a nutrition plan. Some of my clients like to stick to their nutrition plan from Sunday to Friday and the eat whatever they feel like on a Saturday, this is what I call a planned cheat day. Psychologically this can be motivational but is it beneficial? The good news is that it appears that there might be some metabolic benefits to doing this too.
When restricting calories, Leptin, our hormone which helps with energy balance and weight loss may decrease. Overeating can increase leptin production again, which in turn boosts metabolism. Leptin also contributes to motivation, libido and dopamine production. This means that after a ‘cheat’ day you might be happier and more motivated.
To increase leptin production without completely putting back on all the weight you lost in the previous 6 days, eating a high-protein, high-carb, low-fat, on your cheat day may be key.
Rather than ‘diet’ my approach would always be to make changes to what people eat gradually so that over time, by making small changes they will eventually crowd out the bad stuff. This gradual approach promotes sustainability since it’s more manageable, meaning there’s less of a chance you’ll give up and more likely to optimise your body composition so you can get the training and race day results you deserve.
If you want help with dropping body fat in a way that’s sustainable then you’ll want to know that I have just launched my online workbook Leaner, Lighter and Faster a step by step guide to optimise your body composition and reach your ideal racing weight. In it I take you through the process I use with my clients to help them lose weight for race season. To find out more click here.