All Diets Fit Into Two Categories

I had an epiphany when I was thinking about the best way to improve nutrition.  I realized there are really only two strategies.  Nutrition is so tough for all of us because it is the intersection of a few different disciplines: chemistry, biology, agriculture, evolution, psychology, family dynamics, and good old fashioned daily logistics.  It is also one of those subjects that is rife with conflicting information.  We constantly see click bait articles claiming that coffee, egg yolks, or peanut butter with save us or kill us.

Between the confusion, the normalizing of overeating, the lack of regular activity, and how our food is made and marketed to us it is no wonder most of us struggle with nutrition.  Is it hopeless?  Far from it!  All you need is some knowledge, a simplified approach, and a willingness to think and act differently.

All ways of improving your nutrition fall into two categories I will call SIMPLER or SMARTER.  Before I go into the details of each, I want to lay out a couple overarching principles:

1. If you want to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit.  You have to burn more calories than you are taking in.  There are different strategies to get you in a calorie deficit.  (more details on that HERE)
2. Eating whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever quantity we want is NORMAL so if we are to be successful we need to be willing to think and act differently.
3. No meal plan will ever relieve anyone of the responsibility to learn how to eat well and think consciously about their decisions.

Now let’s get into the weeds on SIMPLER and SMARTER nutrition.

SIMPLER nutrition is all about reducing complexity so that it is easier for you to take action.  They are usually eat this, not that type diets.  Think of diets like low carb, low fat, keto, paleo, and even many of the super short term cleanses like that wacky cayenne pepper thing.  With that simplicity often comes a lack of nuance.  Certain foods are deemed “good” or “bad”.  This doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad in a moral sense.  Obviously this SIMPLER category covers a broad swath of different schemes, some I think are fine and some I think could be harmful.  Ideally what a simpler approach does is get you in a calorie deficit without having to count calories.  When done well it encourages you to eat foods that are hard to overeat and nutritious while discouraging you from eating foods that are easy to overeat.

Advantages of SIMPLER nutrition: It requires a lot less thinking.  It is a great answer to “I just want you to tell me what to eat!”  If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, it’s a great way to move the ball forward.  You typically don’t need to count calories, macros, or use a food scale.  You simply need to eat what you are supposed to and pass on everything else.

Disadvantages of SIMPLER nutrition: It lacks moderation.  Not allowing yourself to have certain treats short term is fine.  Long term, that can become disordered eating.  Its best used as short term solution with a plan to transition to something that works more long term.

We will be rolling out our brand new SIMPLER Meal Plan as part of our New Year Program.  (Book your No-Sweat Strategy Session to find out more about this program HERE).  I will be doing this program and eating this way along with you!  We will have 3 lists: eat, measure, don’t eat.  I think you can figure out what the eat and don’t eat lists are.  The measure list will be things like peanut butter and salad dressing.  We can eat those things but we aren’t allowed to eat them without measuring out the proper serving size.   This will last for 4 weeks.  By the end of the 4 weeks we can transition to SMARTER nutrition.

SMARTER nutrition is all about giving you the tools to hit your goals in a flexible way.  Our “Choose Your Own Adventure” meal plan does exactly that.  We calculate your daily targets for calories and protein.  You have the flexibility to hit those targets however you want.  Can you have candy?  Yeah you can have whatever you want, just hit your targets.  Obviously if you somehow manage to stay under your calories while eating lots of candy you won’t feel as good as if you had whole foods, but you are in the drivers seat.

Advantages of SMARTER nutrition: Because you have options for how you get the job done, it is a lot easier to not let obstacles derail you.  Think about how much easier it is to manage a holiday party, going out to eat with friends, or other social setting where the choices might be less than ideal.  When you have some flexibility, you can do those things while staying on track.  This is why smarter nutrition is so much more sustainable.

Disadvantages of SMARTER nutrition: It adds more decision points that can get fatiguing.  As discipline wanes, all of the nuance can turn into easy rationalizations for eating in a way thats going to get you off track.  You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever said “everything in moderation” right before eating a completely immoderate amount of junk food.  Been there!  The other disadvantage is that it requires a pretty good knowledge of serving sizes, macros, and/or an ability to count calories.  That can be overwhelming and impractical without practice and some momentum on your side.

WHY NOT BOTH?  I think it’s great to transition from one method to the other depending on what you need.  Go SIMPLER when you need to get some momentum, re-establish discipline, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  Transition to SMARTER after a few weeks on the SIMPLER plan.  If you do the SIMPLER thing a couple times a year and stay in SMARTER mode the rest of the time, you’ll have a great year!


Related Posts

Scroll to Top

Fill out our form and one of our coaches will be in touch about membership options.