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Can You Eat Doughnuts & Lose Weight?
‘Doughnuts’ and ‘Dieting’.
The juxtaposition of placing those two words next to one another is as strong as ‘Trump’ and ‘Clinton’. It seems almost inconceivable that one could lose weight whilst eating “junk food”, but is it possible? If it is possible then what is this wizardry?
A number of years ago I used to be under the widely-held belief that I needed to abstain from my favourite foods in order to dial in and get shredded.
I would blindly categorise foods as “clean” and “dirty” and had very little regard for the caloric or macronutrient value of the food that I was eating.
Calories didn’t matter as long as I was eating clean. Whilst I achieved some good results from eating exclusively “clean”, I was confronted with a myriad of issues that came with following a highly restrictive diet protocol. One of which was the overwhelming compulsion to binge on the foods I was craving, and restricting, when my diet became too hard to sustain.
After concentrated periods of aggressive dieting, I was left feeling burnt out, both physically and psychologically, as the demands inherent with dieting very quickly caught up with me. This culminated in being caught up within a vicious cycle; I would diet, I would binge, rebound, punish myself and then for good measure, repeat it all over again.
It was exhausting to say the least. I became preoccupied with eating specific foods and restricting myself from others based off unsubstantiated theories passed down from bigger guys in the gym. In hindsight it was evident that my “healthy” diet wasn’t necessarily creating the healthiest relationship with my food.
GETTING MY PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
It wasn’t until early 2014 that I discovered ‘Flexible Dieting’ or more commonly known as ‘IIFYM’.
I began to take a broader perspective on nutrition, learning to appreciate and prioritise key factors which would have a greater impact on my results than the micro-managed details I had become fixated on.
I must admit that I was pretty sceptical at first… the notion that I could get shredded eating whatever I wanted, provided I adhered to 3 numbers, seemed quite dubious to me. However, upon reading Eric Helms’ ‘Pyramid of Nutrition Priorities’, I began to see what was the both, the most and least important when it came to setting up my diet in line with my goals.
The pyramid ascends from the factors of most importance when manipulating your body composition at the base, right through to the factors of least importance towards the peak.
Your Energy Balance forms the foundation of your diet and is of essential importance. Calories are units of energy found in food which our body uses to fuel itself and survive.
Irrespective of your goal, whether you are trying to ‘bulk up’, ‘tone up’, ‘get lean’ or ‘get shredded’… unless you are accounting for your caloric intake, you are essentially flying blind. Fundamentally, if you want to lose weight or gain weight, it comes down to a simple concept of what is commonly referred to as: Calories in vs Calories out.
- To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you are consuming.
- To gain weight you need to ingest more calories than you are burning.
The next factor which is of utmost importance is your macronutritional breakdown. That is, the distribution of your total Calorie Intake across a specified amount of Protein, Carbs and Fats. Once you have determined your macronutritional requirements, in line with your goals, you are then able to evaluate the quality of the foods which you choose to eat.
However, unless you have initially accounted for your desired target of calories and macronutrients, you leave yourself susceptible to missing the mark.
The quality of the food you eat is an important factor to consider when structuring your diet. Your overall health and well-being should always be a critical factor to consider when selecting foods to include in your daily intake.
Accordingly, the majority of the calories you ingest each day should be derived from whole and minimally processed foods; which are rich in vitamins and minerals to account for your micronutrient requirements.
However, that is not to say that your entire diet needs to be exclusively “clean” (or alternatively, comprised solely of the aforementioned foods)! Restricting yourself from foods you enjoy for a prolonged period of time, will only set yourself up for failure when you fall off the wagon and inevitably binge!
EXERCISING FLEXIBILITY IN YOUR DIET IS THE KEY TO LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY.
THE 80/20 PRINCIPLE
Being honest, the term ‘If it fits your macros” can in itself, prove to be misleading if not confusing, in a world full of absolutes.
Those that misunderstand the concepts inherent in “IIFYM”, are notorious for assuming that the acronym is suggestive of a diet protocol where your entire daily caloric intake is made up of pop tarts and ice cream. Hence why a more appropriate term would be “Flexible Dieting”. Flexible Dieting promotes the notion of exercising FLEXIBILITY within your food choices by following an 80:20 principle.
- 80% of your calories should be derived from whole and minimally-processed, micro-nutrient dense foods such as lean meats, fresh fruit, vegetables, etc.
- The remaining 20% can then be allocated to foods which you enjoy eating, but may be classified as “processed” or stereotypically known as “junk food”.
By exercising greater flexibility in your diet and selecting foods at your discretion, based on taste and personal preference, there is a greater likelihood that you will be able to adhere to your diet in the long-run.
This 20% allocation of calories each day will not ‘break the bank’ when it comes to reaching your body composition goals; provided you are adhering to your overall macronutrient requirements for the day. In laymen’s terms – exercise appropriate portion control and make informed decisions regarding your diet based on context.
So back to the original question, “Can you eat doughnuts and lose weight?”
Well, YES. Provided you can account for your daily macronutrient and micronutrient requirements, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t enjoy your doughnuts in moderation.
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