A lot of times people who workout complain that they aren't getting the results they want to be getting. The #1 cause of not being able to get your body to do what you want it to do is usually NOT your workout. Most, if not all of the time, it is due to your diet. So, sit back and get comfortable. There is a lot of information in this (free) 2 part article, but it will contain EVERY SINGLE THING you need to know about diets and nutrition so that an improper diet plan DOESN'T stop you from getting the results you want to get.
Before we can start talking about diets and diet plans, you must first understand what a diet REALLY is and what it REALLY means. See, people tend to use the phrase "I'm on a diet" when they want to tell people that they are trying to lose weight. People who do this are... well... stupid. A diet IS NOT weight loss. Diets are just simply what you eat on a regular basis. You could eat McDonald's cheeseburgers covered in ice cream 4 times a day, and you'd still be "on a diet." While eating like this would certainly be the worst of all diet plans, you get my point.
If someone said, "that monkey's diet consists of bananas," would that mean the monkey has a weight problem? No, it would just mean that the monkey eats bananas on a regular basis. Saying you're on a diet really just means you eat food. That's why I think it's funny when people state that they're "on a diet" and expect it to mean something it doesn't. "You're on a diet? Wow... congratulations... so is EVERY OTHER LIVING THING ON THE PLANET!!" These people should be saying that out of the many different diets and plans that exist, they're "on a weight loss diet." Hopefully these people are reading this right now, and hopefully they have learned their lesson. It's ok, we forgive you.
Diet Plans For Different Goals
Now, chances are you ended up here for one of the following reasons:
Which ever it is makes little difference at this point, because it all starts with your diet. You see, with the exception of a few small details, all diet plans are exactly the same. They all break down the same way. All diets consist of the same things. It's how you adjust those things that makes the difference between A, B and C. So, let's find out what exactly these "things" are.
Calories And Maintenance Levels
Now that you fully understand what diets are, let's break down what all diet plans consist of. Above all things, there are calories. All diets are made up of calories.
Everything you eat and drink (besides obvious calorie-free things like water and celery, etc.) has calories in it.
It's how many calories and exactly where those calories are coming from that effect your body and your weight.
The way the human body works is pretty simple. There is a certain number of calories that your body requires every day in order for it to maintain its current weight. I like to call this your "Maintenance Level" because, well, that's what it's actually called. If your diet plan is made up of less calories than this maintenance level, you will lose weight. If it's made up of more calories, you will gain weight. It's all really simple, actually.
If you just read that last paragraph you should feel good about yourself. Why? Because right now you already know more about diets and nutrition than at least 80% of the population. No, you're no genius yet. It's just that most people are clueless about the subject of "diet plans" and how to actually control their body and weight.
So now that you know that diets are made up of calories, you should be wondering what exactly calories are made up of. Basically, calories are made up of 3 things. Protein, carbs, and fat. Yeah yeah, I know. High protein diet!! Low carb diet!! Low fat diet!! Healthy fat!! Fat free!! Good carbs!! Bad carbs!! Those are probably the assortment of confusing things that enter your mind as soon as you hear the words protein, carbs and fat. It's ok though, relax. In a few minutes none of it will be confusing ever again. Let's take them one at a time.
Protein is an extremely important part of all diet plans. That's why you have most likely never heard of any low protein diets, and also why you probably HAVE heard of protein supplements. That's because your body needs protein, and lots of it. It is the building block of muscle. Protein is measured by the gram. 1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories. So, if you are eating something that has 20 grams of protein in it, that means that whatever you are eating is at least 80 calories. In case you failed 2nd grade math, that was 20 grams of protein multiplied by 4 calories per gram... 20 x 4 = 80
Carbs (or "carbohydrates" for the people who don't mind typing 8 extra letters) is another of the three main elements that make up calories. I have a feeling that of the three, carbs are the most confusing for people creating diet plans. I think the reason for that is because everything you enjoy eating has carbs in it. Hell, everything you don't enjoy eating has carbs in it. Carbs are in almost everything and therefore seem to be the hardest for people to manipulate within a diet plan. Just like protein, 1 gram of carbs is equal to 4 calories. So, if you were eating something that had 20 grams of protein and 10 grams of carbs, you just ate at least 120 calories (20x4=80, 10x4=40, 80+40=120calories).
Unlike protein and carbs which are both 4 calories per gram, 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. So if you eat something that has 10 grams of fat in it, you just ate at least 90 calories. This explains why high protein foods are usually low in calories, while foods high in fat are high in calories. This is also probably the reason why there are so many fat free foods and why people on diets think fat makes them fat. Guess what... it doesn't. That is a myth.
Fat does not make you fat. Eating too many calories makes you fat. It just so happens that a gram of fat has more calories in it than a gram of protein or carbs. However, the only thing that makes a person gain fat is when that person is eating more calories than their maintenance level, and then not burning them off through working out. Whether these excess calories in your diet plan are coming from protein, carbs or fat makes little difference.
Sometimes people on specific weight loss diet plans just try to eat less fat (or even fat free) and think that alone will work. What they don't realize is that they are probably replacing those fat calories with calories from protein or carbs. Yes their fat intake has become lower, but their calorie intake evens back out to what it was, if not more. And, since you now know that it is too much calories, NOT fat, that causes fat gain, the person's weight usually won't decrease.
Different Diets And Plans
So now that you know diets consist of calories, and calories consist of protein, carbs and fat, you should have just one final 4-part question. Exactly how much protein, how much fat, how many carbs and how many calories should you be eating each day in your own diet plan? It's hard to answer this because there are 100's of different diets out there whose "gimmicks" revolve around the answers to those questions.
Especially when it comes to weight loss fad diets. There's the low carb diet, the low fat diet, the high protein diet, the atkins diet, the south beach diet, the zone diet, weight watchers and too many others to even remember. While those diets have their place and some people like all of the gimmicky aspects of them, honestly... none are truly needed. If one seems ideal for you, then by all means, use it.