TYR Tactical

Corps Strength – The Diet Merry Go Round

The little video I included with this article is to illustrate a very simple point. That being that the never ending stream of “new, great, ground breaking and fantastic eating plans” are just like a merry-go-round and like the big guys in the video, no matter how many times they go around, they’re still as overweight as ever. As a fitness trainer and author I’ve been saying this for many years, as it’s always been true and it probably still will be for as far as the eye can see. The recent popularity of “Intermittent Fasting” is just the latest in this trend. It’s all the rage now in the diet/fitness world, on the internet and I personally know several people who are on it. I’ve been asked many times, or should I more accurately say that I’ve been “briefed” about this new eating plan. I say “briefed”, as what really happens with these new things is people who know me, know that I’m into fitness, working out, etc. and when they want to relate to me their newest eating, or workout plan (the latest of many), they often go through a sales pitch of sorts. Telling me about the studies, the celebrity and pro athlete testimonials, internet articles, etc, etc. I always feel that they’re looking for some validation or encouragement. Of which I always give the latter and almost never the former. In any case, I wish them the best of luck, which I sincerely mean. However, long experience tells me that after some initial good (often very good) progress, their long term results will be minimal, actually probably non-existent as they will most likely gain back all the weight they lost and like being on a merry go round they will end up right back where they started; Looking for the next “new, great, ground breaking and fantastic eating plan”. Which have no doubt, is right around the corner.

My wife gets on me sometimes about being negative about new stuff. The fact is I’m really not a negative person about new things, I never have been one of of those people who wish they were back in the “good old days”. However, neither am I someone who is easily buffaloed by slick marketing. That comes from a long career as a Marine and especially as a non-commissioned officer you become naturally skeptical of initial appearances. Probably as we’ve heard every bullshit story, excuse and false promise made by professional bullshit artists for years and tend to rely more on hard earned experience and our own eyes and ears than anything else. It’s actually an astonishing thing that the fitness and diet industry can go from promoting one extreme to the other without so much as a shutter step, and even more astounding is that people will buy into this stuff without any hesitation. Do I need to remind people that just a few years ago the absolute gospel on eating properly was “grazing”. That you had tp eat every few hours to keep your metabolism up? People had all these little meals set up so they could eat constantly. Now the almost complete opposite is the new truth, that you should only eat between certain hours and not at all otherwise. If those aren’t complete 180 out thinking, I don’t know what is? It’s the same thing with the way things have bounced around the Zone, Paleo, high carb, low fat, high protein, Atkins, The Med, Weight Watchers, Keto, Vegan, Flextarian, DASH, etc, etc, etc. There are many more, too many to list.

Though all these plans are different (some very different) in some ways, both big and small they do all have three main things in common.

1. If followed closely they will help people lose weight.
2. They are about impossible to follow long term and will be eventually dropped by 99% of the people who try them.
3. Their main purpose is to sell products: food, supplements, charts, apps, etc.

Over the years I have watched people try all of of these plans, I even tried a few myself and like I said they all can provide good results, if and that’s a big IF you can stick to it. The cold hard fact of it is that very few and I mean VERY few people can stick to these programs long term. What do I mean by long term? Well, for life is what I mean, as I have zero interest in (like I have said many times) short term (30, 60, 90 day) fixes. I’m into long term results meaning everyday, every way fitness and of which maintaining the optimum bodyweight is a crucial part of this. They don’t stick to them because they don’t work, most do work. They work because, in the end they simply reduce calories, though they just do it in different ways. They don’t work long term as they are either too complicated, too expensive, too boring or the most likely, just an overall pain in the ass. Too hard to fit into a busy life. We all have better things to do than figure out our protein, carb and fat ratio for each meal, or spend our Sunday’s doing meal prep for the week. No thanks, eating (and PT), is support for my life, not my life. That baseline thinking is a big reason why my program has worked great for me (and those who try it) for decades, not just for a few months. The real solution to getting off the diet merry go round is to first understand that this is the last thing the diet and fitness industry want you to do. There is no money coming in from people that maintain a healthy body weight. Those people have figured it out and have no need or a new plan, supplement, app, foods, etc. No money in that. So stop relying on the latest “break through” it’s mostly just a sales pitch. Next, we need to understand that the human body has not changed that much in many 1000’s of years. What has changed is our habits, namely our food and lifestyle. This a very long subject, much too long to cover here, one I’ve spent many years studying and observing. However, just on this latest subject of Intermittent fasting I have some thoughts.

I have always felt and advised people that not eating (at least not much) between meals was a good thing. I have always thought that you need to give your body a rest between meals. Unless you’re doing some extreme training, or other high output activity like mountain climbing, backpacking, military ops, adventure racing, etc, you’re not a baby and don’t need to eat every few hours like one. Additionally, eating, processing and digesting food takes energy. It’s why you get tired after a big heavy meal. That energy could be better spent elsewhere. There is a balance between eating the right foods, in the right amounts and at the right times to give you maximum strength, health and energy and eating too little or (more likely), too much that doesn’t provide energy, it drains you. There is also an important cultural aspect to eating. Having traveled widely, I see the differences in how different cultures eat and its a big part of the social fabric in their country. The United States in no different as such this shouldn’t be disregarded. I heard a friend the other day talking about how he was trying to get his mother to alter her Thanksgiving meal time, to accommodate his intermittent fasting schedule? Come on man. I guarantee that if your eating plan is that extreme, it is on it’s way to the island of misfit diets.

The solution to all this isn’t that complicated, but it does take some personal understanding, some discipline and patience. I have worked with some very healthy and tough military people from all over the world and in many cases their diets vary widely. Yet they all are able to preform at very high levels. You see the same wide variety in how military people and athletes eat here in the U.S. I have known some seriously fit and tough people that eat like shit snd their bodies just turn most of it into fuel. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve been blessed with some of that myself). On the other end I know people who have been obsessing over their diet for years and never seem to get a handle on it. In any case, this all simply tells you that the absolute perfect performance eating plan for everyone doesn’t exist, as there is a wide variance of what will work. There has also been a lot of studies done lately about “genetic eating” and that people’s DNA may result them in getting better results from different diets. It makes sense, just as some people (like myself) are lactose intolerant, which is a DNA thing. But, we don’t have to be scientists to figure out what works for each of us. I know pretty quick after drinking a glass of milk that it’s not going to work for me.

The best place to start on figuring this out is to start with the basics and adjust as your lifestyle, goals and personal tolerances require. Eat simple, natural foods that are close to their natural state. Limit highly processed food, I.E. foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (fast food). Start with three balanced meals a day, limit in-between snacks. Don’t eat late at night and have a light lunch. When I say light, a good rule of thumb is too aim for a meal that is approx. 1/2 the size and calories of what you would consider a full meal. On days that you are going to share a big meal with friends and family, (like on the holidays), eat very lightly before and after. BTW, I hope this goes without saying that a balanced and consistent PT program is an important part of all this. In my book Corps Strength I go into more detail on how to do it, but it’s not rocket science by any means. Nor will you need a new plan in a few months because it has worked, still works and always will work. On the other hand it’s certainly not rocket science to constantly ride the diet merry go round thinking that if you just ride long enough, eventually you’ll grab the brass ring. That’s the diet industry’s fantasy to keep you riding, not reality for success. Try getting off and find the right path that takes you to long term success in keeping healthy, in good shape with your weight under control. As a hint, that path is probably a lot simpler (not always easy), than you think, as like most roads to success for everything are; Simple, but not easy.

I hope ever one is having a good start to their holiday season. Enjoy your friends, family and the time off from work. However, please remember our troops serving far away from home in dangerous places so we can enjoy this time (and all times) in peace.

God bless them, you and yours.

Till next month: “Be safe always, be good when you can”.

Semper Fi



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