To hell with diet sustainability

To those who know me, they know that I’ve spent the bulk of 2012 working on dropping weight while trying to get stronger. Along the way, I’ve tried a number of different approaches, and done considerable research. It’s become a little bit of an obsession and I’ve tried various things from calorie restriction to ketogenic to intermittent fasting to some combination of all 3. 

I’ve received two primary types of feedback as I’ve pursued various diets:

  1. "Wow, have you lost weight?!" (I like this one)
  2. "Is that type of eating really sustainable?" (Ugh)

My response to the latter question is typically “I don’t know.” More specifically, I don’t care. I’m not interested in sustaining it forever. I’m going to do it until I meet my goal, or whatever it is I’m doing stops working.

I was reading an article in Shape (shut-up, don’t judge, I have a voracious appetite for fitness/nutrition information lately) where their resident dietitian discussed promising studies about Intermittent Fasting, but did her best to dissuade people from trying it:

So if you’re contemplating intermittent fasting, a liquid diet, both, or any drastic change in your diet or lifestyle, ask yourself if you think you’ll still be doing it six months or six years from now.

Really?! Six months or six years!! How can you advocate that approach without knowing someone’s goals?

The fact of the matter is, for the bulk of the population* the only truly sustainable diet is one that is going to have you cycling onto other diets along the way. If a simple approach of “healthy eating and moderation” were successful, simple, or sustainable, there wouldn’t be an obesity epidemic. There wouldn’t be a surge in gym attendance from January to mid-February. There wouldn’t be the diet industry that exists.

People pursue things like carb backloading or intermittent fasting or Weight Watchers because they have specific goals and time frames in mind. It would be great if they underwent a lifestyle change (and their body and metabolism didn’t adjust to the new caloric state) and they were happy and lean and doing the exact same thing for six years. But it ain’t gonna happen.

The question shouldn’t be whether or not a diet is sustainable. It should be whether the diet will help you meet your goals.

As for me…I’ve done okay this year. I’m in a good place but still working hard. I might cover that in another post.

*There are ectomorphs who have a really hard time gaining weight no matter what they do. For those ectomorphs trying to add bulk/muscle they have their own struggles. For those people who are just effortlessly skinny and don’t care about bulking, um don’t take it personal if the rest of the world hates you.