Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Calories. Macros. Ratios. This is how we tend to think and talk about food and nutrients. It's a message that's firmly ingrained in today's health industry - from the mass media we read, to the apps we use, to the claims on the packaging of the foods we eat.
The emphasis on calories and macros leads many people to demand concrete numbers to steer their dietary choices. We want clear parameters on what's in and what's out. This is a symptom of our information age. But for all the focus on ratios and formulas, the irony is that in reality there is no magic number of protein, carbs or fats that you should eat to lose body fat or build muscle mass. The perfect macro ratio does not exist.
Each person is too unique to be neatly assigned to a generic diet or set macros. You may be tempted to try the latest diet because it promises to deliver incredible fat loss results, or follow a strict dietary protocol because it did wonders for your friend. But just because it sounds fantastic on paper or your friend raves about it, that doesn't necessarily mean it's optimal for you.
Would you rather push your body to its mental and physical limits for quick but fleeting results, or prioritise small, smart adjustments to accomplish lasting results that complement your preferences and lifestyle?
Think about it. You have a unique mind and body, comprised of all the things that make you, you - your personality, your preferences, your schedule, your food intolerances, your microbiome, your hormones, your genes. Add to this your goals and your circumstances. If you consider all of the relevant variables together (and it's all relevant), it's pretty unlikely that there's another person quite like you. So why would you want to take a cookie cutter approach to your dietary choices? Is it really a smart idea to make your body and lifestyle fit the mould of a popular diet in the media spotlight?
Not only is each person different from one another, the same person constantly changes and adjusts too. You will adapt to any diet. No matter how successful it is initially, your results will slow. This is natural - our bodies are programmed to adapt to a change in stimuli. If your priority is body recomposition, you need to keep your body guessing. Your diet should adjust as you do. A one off diet that doesn't change at all is destined to fail.
It's not a race to the finish line. Your health should lead the way, not follow.
It's not fair to food (or to you) to only think of it in terms of numbers. Sure, it helps to have a system to quantify and track things. But the most important thing is to listen to and eat for your body, based on your goals. This means that you need to ask questions, try things, monitor the outcome and make adjustments.
Body recomposition is a process that takes time. You might see results immediately - a decrease in weight, a leaner shape, looser clothes, or a noticeable change in body fat distribution. You might not. The thing is, it doesn't matter. The health and fitness industry has become obsessed with time-based results and arbitrary deadlines. It is rife with 6 week challenges and 12 week transformations. This fixation on time is misplaced. Do you really need to sculpt your dream body in a matter of weeks? If faced with the choice, would you rather push your body to its mental and physical limits for quick but fleeting results, or prioritise small, smart adjustments to accomplish lasting results that complement your preferences and lifestyle?
Just because it sounds fantastic on paper or your friend raves about it, that doesn't necessarily mean it's optimal for you.
It's not an 'either, or' scenario - you don't need to sacrifice short term results for a genuine transformation. It's likely that you can accomplish the best of both. But the point is that it's not a race to the finish line. Your health should lead the way, not follow. If you listen to your body as your guide and keep things simple, this will set you up for incredible results that you can sustain for years to come.