It’s a mine field out there! Many diets offering many promises, so how do you tell which ones’ work and which ones don’t? Here’s my checklist that should help you sort the good ones from the bad!
1. Promises of quick gains
Firstly, the old saying ‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is’ might be very apt here! Typically, this looks like a diet offering you a large weight loss within a short timescale. But when relating this in a sport specific context you might be wary of anyone offering unrealistic performance gains, power to weight, speed, power, etc. In fact, it is very difficult to relate definitive performance gains to a nutritional programme alone, for example if you stop training but focus on diet alone will you become a better cyclist? Not likely.
Nutritionally Fit has been designed to work with endurance athletes to help them make changes to their diets that will help improve factors like recovery, energy and general health. These are not quick fixes, although depending on your current diet you might see quick responses, but when you give them time you might see performance boosts too!
2. Typically, they focus on weight loss (with no mention of fat being the specific goal)
Weight specific here but if a plan always talks about weight loss you could be in for a shock. Not because you won’t lose weight, because you might do that, because it might be muscle. It’s very easy to design a plan to lose body weight, including muscle, but then you’re just losing performance gains at the same time. Relate this to power to weight and you’d get no change with weight and power both dropping, what you might also get is sick…
3. Expensive, some with large upfront fees
When you’re asked for a lot of money upfront with no refund be very cautious. Do a lot of research and satisfy all these criteria before parting with your money. I think this is common sense really, if a qualified Harley Street Nutritionist asks for your money you might part with it, if someone with no medical background nor provable results asks for all your money, you might not.
4. No mention of lifestyle or mentality
Weight loss and performance nutrition might be more about mentality and lifestyle than the diet itself. Are you supported mentally, do you get help with integrating this into your lifestyle, or does this diet focus solely on food alone?
A food alone diet might get you to your goals but won’t educate you on why you need to eat a certain way, after you finish the diet or programme you might slip back into bad habits.
5. It might make you skip meals or cut out specific macros; fat or carbs
Many, many diets promise big gains from cutting meals or dramatically reducing or eliminating either carbs or fats from your diets. I’m not a fan of these at all and even less so when it comes to athletes.
Fats, healthy types and eaten in moderation, are crucial to your body’s running. Carbs provide its fuel. Cut either of these out completely or fail to provide enough and you will negatively affect performance.
6. It might focus on one area of food group, or eliminate another altogether
Nutritional diets focus holistically and teach you to eat variety, given that your body needs that. If you are told to eliminate a food group or focus on one over another alarm bells should be ringing. Take a look at what your body needs to run, beyond just macros and into micros. If you eliminate certain food groups you might struggle to provide essential minerals to your body.
7. No exercise is mentioned or recommended
This is specific to people focusing on weight loss, if you’re training it might not apply, maybe if you’re taking an end of season break. Moving your body is crucial to healthy living, sure you could lose weight focusing diet alone but this might not be healthy.
My mantra, ‘don’t lose weight to be healthy, be healthy to lose weight’ applies here.
8. Either no or little scientific evidence
Now this is tricky because it can be hard to attain scientific evidence of a programme. But said plan should at least have results posted with testimonials. You should be able to speak to others who are having great results and the information about the diet should be freely available.
Any resistance to be able to speak to others who are seeing great gains is a warning sign of a fake or untested programme.
9. A one size fits all plan
It’s just not applicable! Everyone is different, some people respond better to certain food groups, some people are training at different intensities and therefore their body will utilise certain macros better than others.
Nutritionally Fit aims to educate you, so you can understand how and what works in your body, so you never need to spend big on professional help again.
10. The plan is temporary!!!
This is the biggest one for me! If the diet is designed to be temporary and not address long term or lifestyle issues, then it’s results will be temporary too. There’s no quick fix, or short term goals. It isn’t impossible and you don’t have to address every factor all at once. Just small steps towards your bigger goal. You’ll soon slip into this being your life and you’ll never have to worry about your diet again.