The Internet is filled with information on all the new lifestyle crazes, from vegan to flexible dieting to paleo, confidently claiming that they will each help to improve your fitness and health journey. Although very welcome, this information overload can make it hard to pinpoint what lifestyle is truly best for your personality, ambitions, and beliefs, in addition to your nutritional requirements.
To help you out, I’ve put together a cheat sheet on the unspoken requirements for some of the most popular fitness lifestyles. Or you can take our quiz to see what diet might be best for you!
A vegan doesn’t eat or wear anything that comes from a living creature, such as fish, milk (cheese), honey, eggs, leather, and fur.
What about protein? The truth is, you can just as easily get protein from non-animal sources as you can from animal products. Eating plant-based protein is actually even better for your health, since you’re eating complete proteins and cutting out all the extra fat that is often found in animal protein. There are more carbohydrates in plant-based protein, yes, but there is also more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which helps promote an overall healthier body. Carbohydrates also help replenish your glycogen levels pre and post workout, which allows your muscles to grow by optimizing protein and energy distribution in your body.
Having a strong character is also something you need, since many people will come to you with arguments on how being vegan isn’t healthy for humans. Some people will also shove meat in your face, pushing you to smell or eat it, and you will need to have a strong stand for your choices. You don’t need to yell at anybody, you just need to be firm. A good way to do that is by answering their questions with scientific facts on the benefits of being vegan, which often helps quiet down the noise.
Similar Diets: Vegetarian (eats animal byproducts such as eggs, dairy, and honey), Pescatarians (a vegetarian diet, plus fish), Macrobiotic (similar to pescatarian but avoids dairy and promotes whole, unprocessed foods).
Good Reads : The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
Flexible dieting is also known under the name “If it fits your macros” or “iifym” for short. This lifestyle promotes weight loss by following macronutrients. Macronutrients are the three main sources of calorie energy that your body needs in order to function properly: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The science of flexible dieting is simple: Eat less than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), by counting your macronutrients diligently. Your macronutrients can be calculated, based on your current TDEE and training level, online or through a personal trainer.
Not all calories are created equal, remember, but it’s a flexible lifestyle nonetheless, which means that you will need to find a balance in your nutrition.
Requirements for a Successful Flexible Diet:
You will need to be very strict with yourself, especially at the beginning, in regards to your macronutrient count. Being comfortable calculating and weighing your food before you eat will make the difference between successfully following a flexible diet or simply making excuses to add some refined foods into your diet. Bonus points if your food intake is organized, or prepped, in advance as well, especially if you’re working.
Good Reads : A Guide to Flexible Dieting by Lyle McDonald
Similar Diets: Calorie Counting
Although not an official lifestyle, following a BroScience approach can still be considered a way of life. BroScience stands for believing every bodybuilding myth found on the Internet rather than believing in the science behind it. Most people who follow a BroScience approach tend to eat only healthy foods, such as the famous chicken and broccoli dinner, do minimal to no cardio, and eat every three to four hours, six times a day.
This lifestyle is best for people looking to shift their lifestyle from unhealthy to healthy without too much of a headache. Under the BroScience lifestyle, you don’t need to count calories, weigh your food, or spend hours on the treadmill. This approach makes it simpler for people looking to lose some water weight or change their eating habits. If you’re a natural snacker, this approach might also be good for you, as it allows you to eat every few hours; you eat small meals, yes, but they can help you if you’re currently used to always having a bag of food in your hands. This is also a great lifestyle for people who have the tendency to binge eat, especially if they even so much as smell junk food; BroScience gives you a break from unhealthy foods and keeps your hunger at bay with regular meals.
Good Reads: None, as this isn’t an official diet (If you find one let us know!)
Similar Diets: Paleo
Meal plans are usually issued by professional nutritionist of fitness trainers. Prior to receiving the meal plan, your fitness professional will need some information about your current lifestyle, body fat percentage and goals.
If you’re someone who likes to eat the same food every day, this lifestyle is perfect for you. Usually, the food in meal plans is similar from day to day, with a few changes every few weeks, which makes it easy to meal prep in advance. If you have a very busy life, following a meal plan is also beneficial, since you will be able to reach your fitness and health goals without adding more responsibilities on your mind. Keep in mind that you will need to be very organized when following a meal plan, which means that some restaurant dates will need to be rescheduled until you’re allowed a cheat meal. If you’re one to go out often, either with clients or loved ones, think carefully before adding a meal plan to your lifestyle, as it can create a bit of a hassle in your routine.
If you’re looking to get shredded in a few weeks, to compete in a bodybuilding or bikini competition, or you’re looking to run a marathon in a few weeks and need a specific diet, than meal plans are most definitely for you.
Good Reads : Weekly Meal Planner by Kahootie & Co.
Similar Diets : There are hundreds of variations on meal planning, we encourage you to explore and find out what works best for you.
Regardless of where you are in your fitness and health journey, knowing yourself is key to reaching your goals. There are many approaches you can take to get fit, lose weight or build muscle, but if you’re looking for a lifestyle rather than a quick fix, knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help. Before you embark on a lifestyle, write down what your fitness and nutrition habits are, and how they are created, then investigate to find the best diet for you!
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