Year after year, you decide you want to lose weight and get serious about clean eating. Your kitchen gets a makeover and you ditch every morsel of food that is “bad” for you or will “make you fat.”
Then, finally, you reach the magic number on the scale, flash your brand-new abs for a few weeks and let your guard down to relax a bit — hey, you deserve it, right? Before you know it, you’ve gained it all back and then some. You’ve done it again — you’ve fallen victim to diet cycling.
Instead of reaching for the latest contest-prep meal plan or trendy quick x, consider turning your back on yo-yo dieting for good. Didn’t think that’s what you were doing because you’re following a competition diet, not a fad diet? Think again. Yo-yo dieting is the cyclical loss and gain of weight, regardless of the diet source. And guess what? It’s pretty hard on your heart and body. According to a recent report from the American Heart Association, weight cycling may put you at a greater risk of heart disease or dying from a heart attack.
If that’s not enough to deter you, researchers from the U.K. determined that repeated dieting may lead to weight gain because your brain interprets the diets as short stints of famine, resulting in your body storing fat in preparation for a future “famine.” This compensatory mechanism may explain why you end up over- eating after coming off a low-calorie diet. While this is only a small factor contributing to weight gain post-diet, it’s something to consider.
Your best bet for weight loss is to keep your diet consistent year-round. Taking in only a few hundred calories less than your body needs and exercising regularly is a much better way to lose and maintain your weight than by going on and off low-calorie, restriction-type diets.
Finding a sustainable diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs without leaving you feeling bored and deprived will help you be successful on your fitness journey for the long term. Start with this seven-day meal plan that’s based on a balance of macronutrients and designed to jump-start your metabolism to burn fat and provide energy for tough workouts and long days. If you feel it’s lacking calories for your body type, simply increase the calories of each macronutrient (protein, carbs and healthy fats) at one or a few of the meals and snacks. On the flip side, if this is too much food for you (remember, fit girls need more calories than our couch-potato friends!), go ahead and eliminate the carbs from one of your meals every day.
Diet fact: A study published in the November 2016 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that low-carb and high-carb/ low-fat diets resulted in similar weight loss; that’s why we went with a balance of macronutrients. That means we get to eat our carbs and lose weight, too!
Remember to allow yourself one to two treat meals per week.
Click here to download your perfect 7-day meal plan.