What exactly does a diet mean to you?
Is it a punishment for wrong eating practices? Is it a battle you fight till you reach your goal and then go back to enjoying life? Or is it a drudgery you have to succumb to till the end of your days?
Could following a diet be fun and enjoyable?
Now before we go any further, let us take a look at some of the reasons why you might need to go on a diet.
- Fat loss
- Muscle gain
- To enhance athletic performance
- To maintain health and agility in general
Factors to be considered while designing a Diet
Once you have identified your goals, you need to now design your diet accordingly. There are many types of diets out there; what’s best suited to you is for you to decide. Some examples of popularly followed diets are the Low carb diet, the Ketogenic diet, the Paleo diet, and the Zone diet. It is always important to remember that no two people are the same. The ‘one size fits all’ concept for a diet preparation does not hold ground.
Here are 10 important steps that would help you design a comprehensive diet plan:
- Know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): This is the primary and most important factor. It forms the basis of any structured diet program. The BMR can be derived through use of simple skin calipers and calculations, or by the use of sophisticated equipment. The most commonly accessible equipment is the Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). It is available at most gyms and healthcare centers. Once your BMR is known, your TDEE can be calculated based on how active you are. You could also use the tool available for free on the SQUATS website (https://www.squats.in/tools).
- Define your goal and accordingly calculate your calorie intake: Now that you know your BMR and TDEE, you need to properly define your goal. If your goal is to gain lean muscle mass, than your diet plan needs to include more calories than your daily expenditure. If your goal is fat loss, than you need to consume less calories as compared to your daily expenditure.
- Make a diet chart including all the required macro and micronutrients: It is very important that the body gets the right proportions of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to support basic metabolic processes and to direct you to your goals. Research shows that you need to have a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kg of lean body mass (fat free mass) in your daily diet. This demand goes up if you are an athlete, or are unwell, pregnant, or are an elderly individual. If you are an endurance athlete or take active part in sports, your carbohydrate intake needs to be higher than if you are more of a resistance training athlete. Fats are an important constituent of our hormones as well as they are needed to transport fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K) to the cells. Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are also important for daily functioning of the body and should be included accordingly. Fiber is another important part of our diet and promotes gut health.
- Get the nutrient timing right: The right timing of nutrient intake is of great importance in optimizing nutrient potential. For example, taking carbs around a workout session is beneficial in providing energy for the workout session. A low carb breakfast can have positive effects on maintaining our blood sugar levels during the day.
- Stay Hydrated: Our body weight is defined greatly by water. It ranges from 75% in infants to 55% in the elderly. A daily intake of 5-6 liters of water is recommended.
- Enjoy your diet: A new diet should not be an ordeal; it should in fact be a lifestyle change that you enjoy. Food should be prepared in the tastiest and most palatable way possible. Include healthy foods that you would prefer to consume. High fiber diets (greens and beans) are very helpful when you are cutting fat, as they have a greater satiety quotient. If you are gaining and are on a high surplus, you may find it hard to complete your daily dietary requirements. In this case, low satiety foods may be preferred (Rice, nuts, and even protein powders).
All in all, the happier you are with what you eat, the more likely are you to not digress from your diet!
- Do not be scared of supplementing: Foods these days lack in vitamins and minerals. Those who follow vegetarian and vegan diets also tend to fall short in meeting their daily nutrient requirements. In such cases, supplementation can be helpful. Supplements however shouldn’t be preferred over intake from dietary sources.
- Preparation and execution: You may now have the best diet program, but if you do not plan its execution and prepare accordingly, it is likely to fail. Check on what is locally and easily available. Plan and budget your diet program. See how much time you can set aside to execute the diet program. It is helpful to allocate your daily portions over weekends, so you don’t spend much time on working days.
- Accommodation for occasions: India being a culturally vibrant nation, more times than less we come across festive seasons. During this time, it is difficult to follow our diet and to not be a social snob at the same time. Planning for these occasions is helpful. You need to set aside an accommodation factor in your diet, at the same time making sure to not go overboard. For example, if you are having a Biryani outside for dinner, take into account the amount of rice you think you would be eating, add that to your diet chart and add a 200 calorie surplus or accommodation factor. These 200 calories could be adjusted by reducing 200 calories in your breakfast or lunch, thus keeping your daily calorie intake close to the planned value.
- Planning for travel: If your job requires for you to travel frequently or if you are travelling for pleasure, it helps to plan in advance. This can be done by looking up the menu of the place you are staying of places in the vicinity and making a plan accordingly. It’s also helpful if you package your meal for the journey so as to not upset your goals.
In the end, following a diet is the same as following a path to a better you. Always remember that the key to a successful diet strategy is its sustainability. With a little bit of thought, you can make your diet more sustainable than it might seem. That is, you can choose to walk on thistles or to turn the thistles into a path of roses.
“Eat what is right, enjoy what you eat, you will reach your goal and never know defeat.”
Article Credits – Ezra Sahu