Note: As with everything on Lift Bros, the following article contains my opinion only. You should form your own and make decisions accordingly.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the better part of the holiday season just utterly stuffing your fat face with all sorts of food most of the human race would consider terrible. Mmm cookies!
But what makes a diet good and what makes it bad, especially for people who even lift like us Lift Bros? Is there such a thing as the best diet? Should you be vegan, on keto, doing intermittent fasting, or going out to hunt deer with a spear to make sure the meat you’re consuming is 100% organic?
If you’ve spent any amount of time researching the topic of diets, you’ve likely encountered a nightmarish amount of misinformation and, even worse than that, information that contradicts other information you believed before.
So, who is right? I hate to break it to you, fellow lifters, but there is a lot of reason to believe that many diets are actually equally as good for you. And one of the most important things to consider with dieting are the personal preferences of the individual.
Some meathead powerlifters may say you should eat a bunch of junk food because it’s packed full of calories and Dr. Mike Israetel said calories are your #1 priority.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe you should be eating lots of garbage, if it aligns with your goals of getting massive and eating your way toward a heart attack, but probably not most people.
The take aways from most diets that people are successful with and don’t end up looking and feeling awful due to are more along these lines:
Eat whole foods as much as possible. The reason that diets where processed sugar is very limited or entirely avoided work so well, is because it goes along with avoiding foods that are heavily processed and packed full of artificial ingredients and preservatives. Maybe the sugar on its own isn’t quite as terrible as the atrocious ingredients that generally come along with that sugar.
If you have a specific weight loss or weight gain goal, it may make sense to count calories using something like MyFitnessPal. If your goal is to just lose a bit of weight or gain some, then it may be sufficient for you to exercise intuitive portion control. F.ex. if your goal is moderate weight loss, get yourself a broad overview of what you normally eat, then try to eat a bit less. Or cut out things like soft drinks, add more walking to your daily routine, etc.
Make gradual changes over time. Just like lifting, dieting is also more of a marathon and not a sprint. With lifting, you should focus on building volume and having regular progress, instead of trying to max out every session. With dieting, try the same approach and make small changes over time that will add up and have you continue making progress. Example: If I eat 4000 calories each day and don’t gain any weight, I don’t need to eat 1500 calories per day tomorrow to start losing weight at a healthy rate.
Place a large part of your focus on micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, derived primarily from the whole foods you eat. Make sure you get enough fiber in your diet and consider supplementing Vitamin D in the winter time especially, after you’ve discussed it with your doctor. When you make sure you’re getting enough micronutrients in from actual food, it will involve eating a lot of vegetables and fruits. For most people, this will lead to them feeling better.
If you even lift, then weight loss probably isn’t your number one goal, but for the average person it’s an important one. For the most part, diets for people that lift heavy and train hard multiple times per week should include a nice caloric surplus (most of the time). Be it for powerlifting, strongman, Crossfit, or whatever other craziness you can come up with in your training routine, you’ll probably need plenty of energy.
So, if you find yourself unable to consume enough food (or you just don’t want to), then supplementing your diet with some protein shakes can be a feasible idea. The important thing to remember, however, is that supplements should be used to add something to your diet. They shouldn’t be your diet. I love a nice shake of chocolate protein powder, whole milk, oats and some peanut butter. Honey roasted peanut butter… so good.
In conclusion, the diet you choose for yourself can be good regardless of what it’s called. It should follow some primary principles and you’re very likely to find success with it.