In this article I share with you the basics on how to learn to manage your diet in the most effective way and what is more important for maintaining a good long term diet: having the correct knowledge or working with limited knowledge but developing your skills through daily practice.
From my experience it comes down to a combination of both but the skill out-weights knowledge very soon in the learning curve. Where most people go wrong is believing that after attaining enough knowledge it will all become very easy. Plus all the marketing wants you to believe that there’s some kind of hidden secret to getting good at managing your diet, some tip that makes it all easy and fast which is simply not true.
I also made a video on this topic which you can check out at.
With all the knowledge in the world you’ll still take time to get good at counting calories, planning your meals and making the right choices. Good knowledge will speed this up but some stuff just takes time. We’re human, we can’t be programmed to always make the right choice. Every day we’re faced with different logical and emotional challenges which influence our decisions.
You can know everything there is in the world but if you don’t have the daily habit build up and the right skills you can’t possibly make the right decision that will bring you closer to your diet goal when you’re faced with a real life problem. Some thing you can learn in books but many things you can’t, you just have to experience it for yourself to learn how to deal with it.
Diet Management – How Much Do You Really Need To Know?
Simply put, after a certain amount of knowledge (almost basic) most of the results come from developing the skill-set of managing your calories and food sources on a day to day basis. This is why I think knowledge itself isn’t as important as the daily application. I know a lot of people who get stuck into always searching for the best diet or the latest study that has some secret fat burning tip or even a brand new supplement that is supposed to shed fat off effortlessly. This kind of thinking rarely leads to any good results.
Individuals who got really good at manipulating their body body composition are those who stuck with it despite the lack of solid information, they don’t wait until they know everything they start implementing the basics immediately. So what are the basics, what is the 20% that gives 80% results when it comes to dieting?
Basics of Nutrition: What does matter?
I would say it comes down to a single thing. Thermodynamics – Energy in, energy out. On a daily basis your body needs a certain amount of energy (calories), if you spend more energy than you intake you’ll be burning fat to compensate for the lack of energy. As simple as that.
Your body needs protein, carbohydrates (you could survive without them but for athletes they are needed for good performance), fat and fiber. Knowing this your daily food intake has to contain a balanced ratio of each macro-nutrient (protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber) depending on your goal. I’m assuming that most of you reading this are into training and fitness so for individuals like that you wanna keep a high intake of carbohydrates and a slightly higher intake of protein since the goal is to build muscle or at least maintain it while dieting. For less active people you can go with a bit higher fat and less carbohydrates.
Keep track of where your calories are coming from and make sure they fit the macro-nutrient ratio. All you need to do is START! Start counting calories, start tracking your food and become aware what you’re putting in your body.
No amount of books you read or videos you watch will make you an expert, you have to practice this on a daily basis. It has to be your focus for a few months until you get the basic skill-set down and then once you have the tools manipulating your body weight becomes effortless.
Critical Skills – Tracking Your Daily Food Intake
If you’re not tracking your food the chances of having a successful diet are minimal. Having a food log is one of the fundamental skills that you need to build in order to have this area of life handled… And it’s not as nearly as hard you think.
It is a pain in the ass to do but there’s no way around it so better implement this now, there’s no way you’ll get around it. Any diet that claims to have you losing weight without tracking calories is a SCAM or it most likely has a long list of banned foods which are calorie dense so you’re more likely to intake less calories on a daily basis.
Beware of these scams, anyone telling you that you don’t need to track your calorie intake is trying to trick you. It’s a marketing trick aiming to activate the part of our lizard brain that wants Instant gratification, instant results. Don’t fall for it!
Take Advantage of Mobile Apps and Nutrition Websites
There’s tons of apps and websites that make tracking calories very easy. In the app or website you can just put in what you ate today and get all the data you need to calibrate your intake.
I suggest using apps like MyFitnessPal (http://www.myfitnesspal.com) because they have great support for mobile devices and you can track your food intake anywhere assuming you have an internet connection.
There’s also a few alternative websites you can check out like:
I recommend these to all my clients instead of the old fashion notebook style tracking which I’ve done. Those who got the best results are the ones who bought a weight scale and took this seriously. They started measuring the food intake and after a few week of logging everything we could easily identify what had to be changed to get the results.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article! If you have any questions leave them in the comments below and if you liked the article share it with your friends.
Stay awesome! – Mario Tomic
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