Healthy Eating vs. Dieting: Which Should You Choose?

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Protein, carbs, fat, fruits, veggies… all are staples in healthy eating, but not in every diet.

What? How? Why?Every month, it seems someone comes up with a crazy new diet fad… or paints a picture of how ___ is good and ___ is bad. Unfortunately, nutrition is not (nor will ever be) that black or white.

We get it. Nutrition can feel overwhelming as questions keep piling up. And, unfortunately, we see many misconceptions or absurd fads/detoxes. Keto… fasting… macros… weight watchers…  our news feeds are stuffed to the brim with ways to stay slim. We can’t help but ask ourselves which is best for us…

Simply put, all diets work!

But, the one that works for us is the one we can stick to consistently.

  • KETO: puts us in a caloric deficit & removes a lot of hyper-palatable, delicious foods.
  • INTERMITTENT FASTING: shortens our eating window & makes it easier to be in a caloric deficit.
  • LOW-FAT DIETS: removes (mostly) the super calorically-dense fat, easily putting us in a caloric deficit.

If you don’t yet see the pattern, re-read those bullets. All diets put us in caloric deficit — i.e. we consume fewer calories than we expend by living. However, these diets aren’t meant to be long-term solutions. No matter how much we have to lose, our bodies aren’t meant to be dieting beyond 12-16 weeks at a time. This is typically when we see our progress fail.

Which is where healthy eating comes into play.

Our bodies need to feel safe before we can cut calories and begin losing weight. Why? Basic survival — our bodies do what’s necessary to make it another day on this earth. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between when calories are low because we’re chasing better aesthetics or if we are not being fed due to famine and lack of resources.

So when we cut calories for too long, our bodies begin to believe something is wrong with our food supply, reserving everything it can to maintain proper functioning. But, if we bump our calories back up — with nutrient-dense foods — our bodies can function better and feel safe again! And, if necessary, we can shed a few extra pounds along the way.

It’s Time to Check-In

Even if you’re not interested in weighing, measuring, and tracking your food long-term… it’s crucial to occasionally check-in and see what we’re working with. Simply put: it’s hard to make the right changes if we don’t know the data.

By checking-in, we can discover the food that’s making us feel yucky, bloating, tired, overweight, etc… As well, we can begin to create the maintenance calories we need on a daily basis. These are the calories we need to keep our body weight, with no changes to muscle or fat tissue. When we discover our maintenance calories, and our bodies feel safe consuming those calories, we can begin to cut calories (for roughly 4-12 weeks).

Now that we are cutting, it’s time to focus on nutrient quality. Protein helps us build muscle, carry good body composition, and keep us satiated. We should aim for around our body weight/ideal body weight in grams.

Next up, carbs. Carbohydrates are delicious, help fuel our workouts, support recovery, and assist in digestion (via fiber). The key with carbohydrates is to make the majority of vegetables and fruits (500-600g/100-300g respectively). Finally, healthy fats are crucial for hormone function, vitamin absorption, and making food tasty!

Don’t know how much (or what) to eat?

Three potential outcomes arrive from manipulating our calories (and our food choices): losing weight, maintaining weight, and gaining weight.  For this reason, it might be super helpful to work with an experienced coach. Our professional team of dieticians and nutritionists provides a great resource to start.