How can we expect lose weight, when our diets are often far too restrictive to even comply to?
Compliance in a nutritional setting is very important. If my clients do not adhere to their caloric goal/personal plan for nutrition, it is very difficult for them to achieve their goals and weight-loss as a result. Therefore, it is important to make sure your compliance in a given diet or routine is optimal, or at least acceptable.
This is important, especially when trying to support long term weight-loss and health management. A heavily restrictive diet will greatly reduce motivation and reward from the progress, and the negatives may very well start to outweigh the positives. The result of this can have serious consequences.
The Yo-Yo Effect
As our body cries to us for food, we become more and more desperate to treat ourselves with something indulgent. The problem with large or intense calorie restrictions is that by this point, it is often too late, and when we finally satisfy ourselves with the indulgent treat. It often does not end there. We finish the pack of chips, and go straight to the ice-cream after.
This yo-yo effect of ups and downs can lead to very negative psychological and behavioural consequences. Most commonly this takes the form of binge eating, which affects over 2.8 million people in America. Or, opposingly, almost complete absence of food all together, resulting in anorexia and other serious health concerns.
This is why nutritional planning MUST be structured in the way that suits the INDIVIDUAL best, allowing them to keep compliant, happy, satisfied, and healthy. And is another reason to be weary of cheap challenges that offer short-term results through generalized and sub-par nutrition plans.
Compliance and its effect on weekly weight-loss progress
A good weight loss plan in the short term (6-8 Weeks) should reduce the participants bodyweight by between 0.5-1% per week on average. This will achieve beneficial results for the business as well as the client. Will also avoid having to resort to many unsustainable or unhealthy methods of weight loss such as Food Type Restrictions, Carb cutting, Meal skipping or Severe Calorie Restriction.
Aiming for more than this per week will require at least a 90-100% effort of compliance to meals and calorie goals, while optimal rate of loss (0.5-1% BW/PW) requires between 60-80% compliance.
Longer term, or more sustainable goals should aim to hit a lower amount lost per week, potentially aiming for the 0.5 mark PW or lower. Compliance can vary as much as 50% from the intended meal plan/goal and still produce measurable results. This also increases longevity for these clients, allowing them to stay in a diet state for longer while being far more comfortable doing so.
Personally, I take a slow approach in my coaching methodology. I aim to see up to 0.5kg per week, but do not specifically aim for more. In fact, I will often prefer to see less than more as anything more is either a sign of unsustainability in the long-term habits being developed, or an unexpected drop in something such as water weight. My clients who take a longer and more consistent approach, lose more weight, and almost never put it back on. I have simply taught them to eat in accordance with their goals.
Why is this important?
This is very important to consider, especially when comparing with 8-Week Challenges and other short term training promotions. If one of these challenges gives you 8-Weeks of meal planning in a heavily restricting format, it is meant for purely that timeframe. Long-term usage of the same plan would result in:
- Huge amounts of weight loss (not necessarily healthy, especially long term or with a simple/generalised nutrition plan that doesn’t account for personal micronutrient levels and individual differences)
- Muscle Loss and Strength Loss
- Great bursts of hunger daily, and reduced NEAT (Non-Exercise-Activity-Thermogenesis)- which results in a lower BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and slower calorie burning
- Metabolic adaptation (Body adapts to energy intake primarily via NEAT and results in significant decreases in metabolism speed, bringing you into less of a deficit subsequently)
- Decreased energy, mood and greater risk of illness
Two of the Biggest Factors in Compliance
One of the greatest predictors of your ability to comply to a diet, is the caloric intake in relation to your TDEE. The lower your calorie intake and deficit is in comparison to your TDEE, the more difficult it will be to comply due to factors like hunger, energy deprivation and even problems with quality and quantity of sleep time.
If you are being heavily restricted from the start, and feel this right from the beginning, don’t expect the diet to last longer than 6-Weeks. Unless you have good will power and ability to resist uncomfortable situations.
Another huge factor in compliance is meal selections & restrictions. If a pasta fanatic is told to utilise a Ketogenic diet- good luck! However, if you love fat-based food (not negative at all, fats are extremely important) this may be perfect for you!
However, too many diet models focus on elimination of food groups, that are often more calorie dense (Bread, Pasta, Butter, Milk, Pizza). This helps with weight-loss as it eliminates foods which are easily accessible, cheap and very dense with energy.
But how on earth does this support choices in the long term? Are you just going to cut out pizza, pie and ice-cream for the rest of your existence?
You can, but you don’t need to. And if you are being told to, find a new trainer! My clients eat ice-cream, pizza, and whatever they desire! Of course with moderation and sensibility being key! I am able to teach them the utility behind their food intake, and they are able to manage their weight-loss with ease and be worry free because of this.
Nutrition is a complex and confusing topic. There is always more to learn, and there are so many approaches to coaching weight-loss. Ultimately for long-term goals, a slow sustained approach will raise compliance. Will also allow for more leniency in nutritional adherence, leading to habits that align closer to healthy and supportive results. Subsequently, to greater long-term weight-loss and retention.
This is as opposed to an all-or-nothing approach. That shreds weight fast but leaves you feeling lost and uninformed on how to continue results in a healthy manner. Remember, if your meal plan is aimed at a 6-10 Week timeframe or less – you will likely not stay compliant for even this time, let alone longer – it is designed to be restrictive and effective- not healthy.
A good long term weight loss strategy entails patience and slight/manageable energy restrictions. And the ability to enjoy your life and the abundance of tasty foods that come with it!