Dieting vs. lifestyle changes

When it comes to nutrition, ‘diet’ and ‘lifestyle changes’ are two completely different things. Whether you are looking to lose weight, lose fat, gain muscle or other – you may be wondering what nutritional changes you need to make. Is dieting for you or should you opt for lifestyle changes? This blog explores the differences and benefits / drawbacks of each.

What’s the difference?

There are several characteristics that set diets and lifestyle changes apart:

Diets Lifestyle changes
Temporary change in eating habits Long-term nutrition changes
Restrictive in terms of foods allowed and calory count Based on moderation, not restriction
Quick results Slower results
High yo-yoing risk Consistent results
Results based on the number on the scales Results go beyond weight

What’s the best option for me?

The best option typically depends on your goals. Diets can offer drastic results that can match short term goals. Are you looking to fit into an old dress for an event you have in 3 months’ time? Then a diet is probably what you’re looking for. However, there are several drawbacks to diets. Depriving your body of all the nutrients it needs to function properly can have negative effects on your physical and mental health. The hunger caused by calorie restriction can in fact lead to weakness, exhaustion, and stress. Additionally, there are some truly dangerous ‘fad diets’ which can have adverse effects on your body. So if you’re looking to start a diet, make sure you do so in the healthiest way possible. Do not starve yourself and ensure you listen to your body.

As opposed to diets, lifestyle changes focus on listening to your body. This includes making small, long-term changes such as making healthier food swaps, exercising 2/3 times per week, and cutting back on sugary and fatty foods. Such small changes are realistic and sustainable in the long-term as they fuel the body rather than cause a strain. This allows you to gradually lose extra weight and build a healthier body.

What lifestyle changes can I make?

Overall, losing weight should be done at a healthy pace whenever possible. Therefore, lifestyle changes constitute an excellent, healthy option to reach a healthy weight. Additionally, it will allow you to maintain your results in the long run. There are several lifestyle changes you can make to promote a healthy body and mind:

  • Reduce your alcohol consumption: alcohol is full of sugar and empty calories. Additionally, your body will be more focused on breaking down the alcohol you consume than burning fat, which can slow the weight loss process. Drinking also makes you less likely to exercise.
  • Avoid sugary drinks: sugary and fizzy drinks are also full of empty calories and can make you feel bloated.
  • Cut back on sugary and fatty foods: foods that are high in sugar and / or saturated fats should only be consumed in moderation. Make sure you read food labels and opt for the healthiest options, and maybe swap your weekly takeaway for a nice home cooked meal.
  • Have a set workout schedule: having dedicated times to exercise will increase your likelihood of sticking to your workout plan.
  • Organise your meals: have a meal plan in place every week and prep your food to avoid last minute decisions such as getting a takeaway or fatty ready meals.
  • Make healthy food swaps: make small food swaps such as opting for low-fat, low-sugar options for your favourite food items. Also make small changes such as opting for whole-wheat instead of white bread, cereal bars instead of chocolate bars, and fruit instead of sweets.
  • Serve smaller portions: avoid overindulging by putting smaller portions on your plate. Eat slowly and mindfully, and listen to your body to assess whether you have eaten enough. This will prevent you from overeating.

Where do I know where to start?

If you’re looking to make healthy lifestyle choices, why not start by finding out where you are now with a Health MOT or Nutritional Therapy Plan?