If you’re like a full 67% of the 2000 respondents to a recent survey we put out, you struggle with diet consistency.
And this is a problem because diet consistency really is key to success with any nutrition program.
The Human Body Adapts
There is a reason we see seemingly opposite diets working for people- from keto to carbitarian at the extremes. And it’s because the human body is incredibly resilient. Our body can adapt to use a wide variety of fuels and foods.
But there are a few principles that underlie success with any diet.
For fat loss, the basics are a calorie deficit that’s not too extreme while eating enough protein to maintain muscle mass.
For performance, it’s eating enough total energy to fuel exercise and recover. Plus ideally eating enough carbs to match your training intensity and volume.
For muscle gain, it’s eating a calorie surplus with adequate protein and carbohydrate while doing hypertrophy focused exercise.
Any training and nutrition programs that achieve those simple underlying principles will work.
For Consistency, Choose A Diet That Fits Your Lifestyle
The main problem is that people tend to try diets that don’t fit their tastes and lifestyle, or diets that restrict their favorite foods. This leads to diet inconsistency, and therefore, inconsistent results.
I’ve actually coined a name for the worst case of inconsistency, and that’s what I call the Consistency Crisis. It’s the most common manifestation of being inconsistent with diet and exercise.
And, it goes something like this:
You are good all week. You meal prep, go to the gym, get to sleep on time.
But then the weekends challenge you. You reward yourself with “cheat meals”, get pressured into overeating in social situations, eat most of your meals at restaurants or skip meals.
All of your habits from the week go out the window.
Unfortunately, if you’re an all or nothing kind of person, at the first sign that today is going to be a cheat day- you write the day off and go off the rails. Cheat day turns into a cheat-kend. Now, all that effort you put in over the week is undone over the weekend.
Worst Kind of Diet Inconsistency
This is the worst form of inconsistency because it’s not like you aren’t trying. You’re doing everything right during the week. However, the weekend, travel, and social situations undo all of your focus.
You put the work in, but a few bad habits are making it so that your results are nowhere to be found!
It’s such a mental drain if you have a fat loss goal, you prep all your meals for the week and have things dialed in for 5 days. You see the scale go down, and then just loosen the reigns a little bit over the weekend only to see your weight shoot back up when you step on the scale Monday morning.
Inconsistency itself ruins motivation which creates a negative feedback loop leading to even more of the willpower trap “screwititis”. Why keep trying if “you already screwed up”?
Your Body Isn’t As Linear As You Think
The problem comes down to this. Your body doesn’t see your week in a binary “you hit your macros” 5 days “you didn’t hit your macros” 2 days. If you hit your macros 5 days and blow them out two, that doesn’t mean you’ll get 3 days worth of progress. Blowing out on the weekend can undo all 5 days of being on point.
Days Vs. Nights
This version of the Consistency Crisis also shows up with nighttime binges instead of just weekend undoings.
A common one I hear, from females in particular, is:
“I do so well hitting my macros all day, and then at night I end up losing self control and binge-ing.”
Again, this version of the consistency crisis is frustrating because it’s not like you aren’t putting in the work to change your body. You’re prepping your meals, making the right choices all day, and then it feels like someone else takes the wheel at night and pulls you way off course.
Long Term Diet Consistency
The third way I learned inconsistency shows up is the root cause of yo-yo dieting. It’s the fight, flight, and freeze response all wrapped up into one.
You find a plan and commit for a month to 12-weeks.
You FIGHT to stay on the plan. (Even though it’s a full 180 degree shift from what’s normal).
After a month of feeling restricted or overwhelmed you take FLIGHT as far from that way of eating as possible.
And, then you FREEZE back in your comfortable and unproductive old habits. (While being paralyzed by the seemingly million different miracle diets and pyramid scheme tea and shake gimmicks people are talking about on social media).
This is another unfortunate situation because usually people who fall into this diet consistency crisis have made a desirable change to their bodies. You might have lost a decent amount of weight. But, you never learned how to maintain it– and, like a boomerang, end up right back where you came from.
Now, not only did you restrict yourself for weeks only to end up back where you were at, or worse… it’s actually harder to lose weight after you’ve lost it and put it back on. The ideal path if your goal is weight-loss is to lose fat, keep it off, and put on more lean mass.
Luckily when it comes to muscle gain, it’s a little easier to maintain your progress. And, progress towards performance goals is dictated more by your consistency with training than eating.
You’re The Macro Master!
One last situation where I see diet consistency derailing people is if you have been counting macros or following a nutrition plan. …for a while now- like a year or more. What used to be a new exciting way to change your body and improve your performance is starting to feel like a real pain in the ass.
You’ve been living and dying by the numbers, but haven’t taken the time to create a solid foundation. New habits and reprograming your brain to sustain your transformation long term is needed.
You’ve created a reliance on MyFitnessPal, a meal plan, or maybe even your coach.
And, because I KNOW that these are problems our clients at Beyond Macros face, we know it’s important to have an approach that helps our clients avoid each of these situations.
Depending on which version of the consistency crisis you’ve experienced in the past, there are a few different areas where you can focus to overcome it strategically.
Reprogramming Your Self Image
But none of these strategies will work unless you properly reprogram your self image.
If you have a story that you’ve failed a diet in the past, that you can’t control your cravings, that the weekends are for fun and you’re not willing to make sacrifices- then your self image is working against your goals.
I highly doubt that your ideal self image involves being flaky, inconsistent, and living life without intention or purpose.
So what do you hold as your ideal self image?
Who DO you want to be? How DO you want to act in the face of challenge?
You need to change your story. You need to upgrade your self image.
This might sound woo-woo, but it works if you commit to the practice.
The first step is to create an ideal vision of yourself. Do this today. You will write this in the present and affirmative.
For example, “I know what foods I can eat at restaurants that will support my goals, and satisfy my taste buds”.
It helps to identify any of the negative self stories you hold before this process, and then translate them.
Another example would be, “I always hit my macros all day, and then I binge and blow things out of the water at night”
The inaccuracy in this statement is that you do not hit your macros if you blow things out at night. That’d be like saying “I’ve been hitting my macros for years, and I keep gaining weight. Maybe it’s because I keep eating after I hit my macros…”
So we need to remove this self image of someone who lacks the ability to control their own impulses.
We need a new story that “I stick to eating foods that are satisfying, and I don’t restrict my food choices. When I’ve eaten the right amount for my goals, I stop eating, or eat unpalatable foods like salad with grilled chicken breast and lemon juice.”
You need to write down this new self image and read it every morning.
One of my personal practices to reprogram my stories and self images is to record myself saying the new phrase and listen to it every morning when I’m in a relaxed state before the day gets moving.
And this is something we’ve started guiding our clients through. It’s honestly one of the most effective practices we’ve found to creating a sustainable transformation with clients.
I had one legend of a client who has maintained her transformation for years. I honestly think one of the most potent practices she implemented once we wrapped up working together is she decided to start the year of Allie.
Here’s a quote from one of her Instagram posts that is telling of the power in this process:
I used to hate looking at photos of myself, but I’m done with being self-conscious because it’s the #yearofallie and I’ve decided to start embracing myself instead of tearing myself down.
Because redefining your self image is the most important part of the process to achieving consistent results, and strategies to manage the weekends, travel, and nighttime binges can usually be cured just by taking this first step I’m giving you homework to change your story.
The other strategies are best applied on a case-by-case basis, with a coach if you’re still struggling. Interested in working with a coach? Schedule a free call to see how one of our coaches can help you.
At Beyond Macros we are THE sustainable transformation nutrition coaches. If you are interested in learning exactly how to get leaner, stronger, and perform your best Click Here to learn more about what you get with a Beyond Macros coach, or schedule an initial meeting with us HERE