Insanity: do the same thing over and over again. Expect a different result. Spin it round and round. Now do it one more time, please. I like it like that. This is how the fitness industry machine works. Take a concept, dumb it down, give it the fad diet treatment, and then feed it to the masses.
Quote complements of Martin Berkhan.
For me, the word "diet" in itself is horrible. It should be about a long-term sustainable change in the way you approach the whole concept of eating, not something you do for 3-5 weeks before the bikini season or before your high school reunion. Now, as most humans are different, ideally everyone should undergo a series of tests to create a stream-lined, ideal, meal plan. This is however not feasible. One, it takes too much time. Two, even if there was plenty of time available, people wouldn't do it because average Joe is a stubborn, yet well-meaning idiot who prefers "bro-science" over actual facts (yeah, I might be young, but I'm already bitter. It's only a matter of time before I'll be yelling at kids to "get off my lawn!"
However, from what I've seen, most people should be comfortable following one of the two following:
- The slow-carb diet. There's endless variations upon this theme, here's one set of rules from Tim Ferriss:
Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains. If you have to ask, don’t eat it. Instead, load up on things like beans and legumes.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you’re just picking new default meals.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night is allowed.
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. (Fructose –> glycerol phosphate –> more bodyfat, more or less.) Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.
Rule #5: Take one day off per week and go nuts. I choose and recommend Saturday.
- Intermittent fasting. There's a multitude of alternatives here as well. I subscribe to the one laid out by leangains.com.
The Leangains protocol consists of two phases; 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding. During this period, three meals are usually eaten. Depending on the day, the composition of those meals varies; on workout days, carbs are prioritized before fat, while on rest days fat intake is higher. Protein remains fairly high on all days.
- On workout days, break the fast with meat, veggies and a fruit. If you’re planning to train shortly after this meal, add a few carbs in the form of a starch source – potatoes or whole grain bread, for example. Make it a medium sized meal and don’t stuff yourself.
- On rest days, eat less calories than on workout days - do this by cutting down on carb intake, and make meat, fibrous veggies and fruit the foundation of your diet for this day. The first meal of the day should be the largest, in contrast to workout days where the post-workout meal is the largest.
- In the last meal of the day, include a slow digesting protein source; preferably egg protein, cottage cheese (or any other source of casein based protein).
- Whole and unprocessed foods should always take priority over processed or liquid foods, unless circumstance demands a compromise.
Both of these are good for me, as I don't have time to eat a gazillion tiny meals throughout the day. I don't eat much fruit anyways, and I'm fairly habitual. However, since I'm rarely hungry around breakfast (also, I have a knack for devouring large servings of double chocolate cake), I tend to drift towards intermittent fasting naturally. Working out regularly - lifting weights, as well as doing both taekwondo and judo - while on these programs are painless.