Diet Advice: What Worked for Me and Didn't
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Over the years, certain diet advice worked for me, and others didn't. Here's breakdown on the various advice, and why it did or did not work for me.
HAVE A SNACK BEFORE DINING OUT
REASON: Eating a snack before eating out somewhere helps to prevent feeling hungry, and thus overeating or making a poor dinner choice.
DID IT WORK: No. My biggest overeating issue is portion distortion. I don't have a proper "off" switch for eating. If I get a plate of food, I can eat all of it. Eating a snack before dining out actually made me overeat more, as I had a snack, plus the meal.
WHAT ACTUALLY WORKED: Cutting my meal in half before I start eating, then putting the other half into a To-Go box.
DRINK A GLASS OF WATER
REASON: Thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so when hungry, drink a glass of water first.
DID IT WORK: No. Maybe this is true for some people, but for me, thirst is thirst and hunger is hunger. Drinking a glass of water does not make me not want to eat.
WHAT ACTUALLY WORKED: If I'm hungry, I eat a healthy snack: veggies and hummus, nuts and fruit. I do not believe in fighting hunger anymore. If I'm hungry, it means I need to eat something.
EAT CARBS PRE-WORKOUT
REASON: Carbs are needed to fuel a workout
DID IT WORK: Yes, but only before a very intense, endurance workout. When I do a long mountain bike ride, I need glycogen in order to fuel the most intense hill climbs. Low carbing before an intense, long distance workout kills my performance. I've come to believe that certain foods are better depending on the exertion performed.
EAT CARBS POST-WORKOUT
REASON: More fat is burned when the body is fasted. Eating carbs post workout restores glycogen for the next session.
DID IT WORK: Yes, but only after a low or medium intensity workout. Low liver glycogen stimulates body fat burn. Eating carbs post workout restores muscle and liver glycogen. This only works when getting regular exercise that depletes and replenishes glycogen, which allows the carbs a beneficial place to go.
WEIGHT LOSS IS IN THE KITCHEN, FITNESS IS IN THE GYM
REASON: You can't out exercise a bad diet.
DID IT WORK: Absolutely. A bad diet causes obesity and disease, and good food is the cure. Exercise makes your heart and lungs healthy, but food is the fuel. No matter how good the engineering, a race car can't perform on low octane fuel.
REASON: Intermittent fasting helps rebalance hormones for better weight loss and management.
DID IT WORK: Unknown. I don't follow a regimented intermittent fasting schedule. Sometimes I miss breakfast due to sleeping in too late, which makes me fast for 18 hours before lunch. I do not seem to have any harmful effects. I have not tried any extensive self-experimentation to see if intermittent fasting has any positive or negative effects for me.
REASON: Calories in minus calories out.
DID IT WORK: No. I have tracked my calorie intake versus expenditure through numerous methods, and I've never found a meaningful pattern. Body metabolism is too complex to distill it down at this level. Body metabolism can burn more or less depending on temperature, food eaten or not eaten, exercise levels, etc.
WHAT ACTUALLY WORKED: Food and exercise tracking is valuable as a logbook for accountability. However, I no longer track calories. I keep an eye on my macros to some degree, but it's more useful for me to track what I eat without being a calorie accountant.
LOW-CARB FOR WEIGHT LOSS
REASON: Low-carb diets can help with weight loss in people with insulin resistance.
DID IT WORK: Yes. Even though I do not have the clinical definition of insulin resistance or pre-diabetes, I have a clear disposition towards it. I cannot tolerate a very high carb diet as it leads to weight gain and high blood pressure. Since adopting a low-carb diet, I have noticeable weight loss and lower blood pressure. I know people who eat oatmeal for breakfast and stay trim, but I cannot.
BOTTOM LINE: There is no one size fits all diet. These things did or did not work for me, but that doesn't necessarily mean that is true for the next person.