The Stages Of Dieting – How To Lose Weight & Keep Getting Healthier

Dieting is a dirty word.

It evokes thoughts of starvation, denial of certain foods and often ends when someone can’t keep it up any more.



I have tried many different diets in my life. Maybe you have too. But is there a diet you have sustained long term? Is there something you can stick to permanently or is it a constantly evolving process?

Today I’m going to address the stages of Dieting. It’s not going to be in the form of try a diet, lose weight, go back to your old ways, gain back weight. It’s gonna be how to progress through the stages long term for lasting weight loss and improved health.

It was pointed out to me recently that I am so far into this process I often forget the early stages and skip straight to the advanced levels of eating. And it got me thinking, how does someone start this process to make some changes to their body composition without getting overwhelmed?

So let’s start at the very beginning.

Step 1 – Eating Poorly

The-Stages-Of-Dieting-How-To-Lose-Weight-&-Keep-Getting-Healthier-Hot-DogThis is the point where you haven’t put much or any thought into what you are eating. You’re just living life and getting on with things.

Maybe you are at a stable weight.
Maybe you’re gaining weight slowly and accepting it as normal.
Maybe you feel healthy or haven’t noticed a few symptoms creeping up on you yet.
Maybe you’re just too busy to do something about it.

If so, that’s where you are and that’s ok…for now.

Step 2 – Making Healthier Choices

One day you decide ‘I should lose some weight’ or ‘I should do something about my health’. Or maybe you don’t decide and are told by the doctor that you need to do something about it.

You decide to make healthier choices with your food.

–          You eat less fast food or choose healthier takeout choices like sushi, noodles with vegetables and chicken salad wraps instead of fried chicken, a couple of pies, a few burgers and fries, etc

–          You start choosing lean meats or cutting the fat off instead of fatty meats.

The-Stages-Of-Dieting-How-To-Lose-Weight-&-Keep-Getting-Healthier-losing-weight–          You replace white bread and pasta with whole grain varieties, white rice with brown rice and limit your visits to the bakery for tasty treats

–          You choose the low fat options when you shop

–          You choose diet drinks and low carb beer

You stick with this for a while and you may lose a few kilos or even a lot. Maybe you’re happy at this point and everything is working fine. In which case this may be where you stay long term.

But maybe you hit a sticking point. For some reason, the weight isn’t shifting anymore and you can’t figure out why. You train harder and more and still nothing is happening. Or what was working in the past is now not working and you may be going backwards. What’s going on?

It’s time to step things up again.

Step 3 – Fine Tuning

This is the stage where you need to look at things a little more closely. It gets tricky here and often this is the part where it can get really hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the details and how much you have to change, but the key is to change only a little bit at a time and keep changing things on a regular basis.

The big thing with this stage is changing nutrient ratios and eliminating certain foods.

Changing Nutrient Ratios

Now we generally get people to increase how much protein and fat they are eating. More than likely, people at the previous stage are not eating enough protein to maintain or build muscle, enough fat for energy and brain and joint function and instead eat too many carbohydrates.

This is a recipe for fat gain and can lead to insulin sensitivity and sugar addiction.

The-Stages-Of-Dieting-How-To-Lose-Weight-&-Keep-Getting-Healthier-EggsTo get a general idea of where to start you could do as follows:
50% carbohydrates
50% protein and fat

This is just your starting point and you will have to see how your body responds to these changes.

Some people will need a little more carbs and a little less fat.
Some people will need less carbs and more protein.

You will notice that protein and fat are combined in the starting point. Some people will be better at about 30% protein and 20% fat, others 35% & 15%.

It will be based on how your body responds and you may need to do some experimenting during this stage.

When reducing your carbohydrate intake it is normal to have withdrawal symptoms including headaches, mood swings and lethargy. These symptoms can hang around for up to 2 weeks, but eventually your body will adapt to the increased protein and decreased carbohydrates

Eliminating Certain Foods

No one likes this bit.

Being told you are not allowed to eat something makes you want it even more. But often it is the best thing you can do.

Often the first thing people are told to cut out is carbs. This scares the hell out of a lot of people.

But you don’t have to cut out all carbs. There are carbs in fruit and vegetables as well as starches like bread, rice, pasta, etc.

You should limit your starch consumption most of the time and just eat them after intense exercise. This only needs to be 3-4 times per week after a Bootcamp or intense strength training session.

Preferably your starch should come from potato varieties or rice, rather than wheat products such as bread or pasta as they contain gluten and can cause inflammatory effects on the body. For ‘how much of what to eat’ you should check out the ‘plates’ article from a few weeks back.

If weight loss is your goal then limiting fruit consumption to no more than 2 pieces per day is a major change too. I hated this one as I was eating 5 or 6 serves of fruit a day. But fruit is sugar and it’s easy to eat too much of it.

The-Stages-Of-Dieting-How-To-Lose-Weight-&-Keep-Getting-Healthier-broccoliYou can eat as much green vegetables as you like each meal. It’s also good to put colour on your plate including squash, capsicum, chilli, and red onion. Not too much pumpkin or other root vegetables though, but you don’t have to cut them out completely.

Fibre based veggies like broccoli and cauliflower will fill you up and spinach should be a staple for every salad. Try some different stuff cos you never know what you will find and like!

Eliminating junk food altogether is impossible. Our brains are hard wired to eating junk food cos it makes us feel good. But you should aim to limit junk food to 10% of the time.

You can do this by eating a few cheat meals each week spread throughout the week or just pick one day on the weekend.

Step 4 – Embracing a Lifestyle of Healthy Eating

For many people, Step 3 is as far as they will ever go. And this is perfectly fine too if you can maintain a healthy body weight, stay away from the doctor as much as possible and generally keep fit and healthy.

But sometimes even the previous step isn’t enough to return the body to a healthy state and reach the desired physical transformation. It occasionally needs to go a step further.

This can include experimenting with the optimal diet for you such as Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Metabolic Typing, Paleo Diet and Intermittent Fasting to name a few. The aim here is to find something that you can stick to long-term. It may include years of tweaking and testing to find what is best for you, but it’s worth the effort if you have the motivation to do so.

The-Stages-Of-Dieting-How-To-Lose-Weight-&-Keep-Getting-Healthier-Grilled-FishThis point may be where you discover some foods that don’t agree with you or that you are allergic to and you decide to actually stop eating them permanently. You find an alternative that agrees with you or you just cut it out. Whatever the case may be you are constantly looking for clues to what is causing your excessive gas, bloating, insomnia, joint or muscle pain, mood swings, lethargy etc.

Or if you are one of the fortunate ones, this is the point where everything just starts working perfectly and your health is the best it’s ever been. You rarely if ever need to visit the doctor and you are fitter and stronger than ever, have endless energy and are feeling great.

In this case you have found the fountain of youth.

One thing you may notice is that a weight loss DIET doesn’t even get a mention in this process, and neither should it.

A weight loss diet is focused on only one thing: You losing weight as fast as possible, often at the expense of the pursuit of optimum health.

A Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) like the shake programs that are around, is not getting you healthier. Sure it may work in the short term to help you lose some weight, but what about when you return to eating NORMAL food? Often the weight goes straight back on.

Same as diets that ask you to count calories. A calorie is not always equal to a calorie.

There are good calories and bad calories. On the website you can play around with this.

A regular scoop of ice cream (100ml) is 98 calories and a medium banana is 99 calories.

It’s obvious which one is better for you and which one will get you healthier and which will be detrimental to your health.

The goals of every diet or nutrition program should be:

  1. To Improve Body Composition (Make You Look Better).
  2. To Improve Your Health (Make You Feel Better).
  3. To Improve Your Performance (Make You Move Better).

If your diet doesn’t meet these criteria, chances are that it’s off the mark.

So I encourage you to find where you are at now and strive to get to the next step and keep improving your diet until you find what works best for you.

You only get one body so use it as best you can and get the most out of it. It will sometimes be a fight with your mind, but you can control it. You just have to decide and keep getting better!

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