Stop Trying To Hack Your Diet
First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: I hate the word hack. It’s overused, trite, and has been misconstrued into something it was never originally meant to be. Long ago a hack was someone who was fake or produced low-quality work. It was a negative connotation. Nowadays, it’s thought of as a workaround or a way to break into something complex to produce a more efficient way of doing something important—or not so important.
With the countless articles, videos and other sources of content that circulate the web the word hack is so widely used that there seems to be a cycle of redundancy. Frankly, I’m tired of it. If you’ve been roped into thinking that you can hack your diet, you’re wrong.
4 Ways Your Tactics Fail
Always on the prowl for the latest tips, tricks, and workarounds is a stalling tactic you are inadvertently using to avoid facing the reality that you have to put in the work and develop good ole-fashioned discipline, consistency and persistence.
Stop trying to cheat your way through. Stop trying to find shortcuts when you know very well what it will take to achieve your ultimate goal.
Let’s first uncover some of the more common practices of what you should stop doing and then we will list a few things you should adopt with your new hack-less mindset.
Hack Fail #1: Falling for "New and Improved"
New diets surface faster than Dwayne Johnson movies. There seems to be a “new and improved” diet marketed as the only way you should be eating every year. Fasting, caveman eating, eating anything (as long as you don’t eat too much), and other extreme plans are designed, partly, to entice new customers to buy products and/or services. The crazier it sounds, the more people will perk up and pay attention—which equals more sales.
Most plausible studies on the general population always conclude that a balanced diet full of fresh, whole foods and variety is the best plan. Think of your health in the long-term, not in short bursts of unsustainable tricks.
Hack Fail #2: Diet Hopping
On top of always thinking that there’s a better way, once you put the latest and greatest diet in motion you quickly quit and start another in short order. It’s like you find a cooler, shinier “thing” that attracts your attention and it looks too good to be true. If you’re a serial dieter look back over the past year and compare how many times you’ve started and stopped to your results.
Here’s the bottom line: choose a diet plan, any plan, and stick with it for a significant period of time—say two or three months. Consistency will pay more dividends than constantly shifting gears.
Hack Fail #3: Sacrificing Your Life
Skipping out of social events for the sake of your diet is somehow seen as a badge of honor of sorts. Saying no to every offer, refusing any and all invites, and sticking your nose in the air when others are enjoying themselves is common behavior for the “dedicated” like you. Those “regular” people can go ahead and sabotage themselves.
Stop stressing over every little detail regarding your diet: the timing, the grams of protein, or the extracurricular activities that could potentially threaten your “gym gains.” Have a plan, follow said plan, and then do your best. But don’t stop living your life for the sake of an extra ounce of muscle.
Hack Fail #4: Technology Overdependence
The world of fitness seems to be overtaken by technology. The use of apps, wearables, and a myriad of programs perceptually will make us better at “fitnessing.” We take the bait and expect to be in total control as our body fat miraculously melts away and we consistently pack on pound after pound of muscle. Ah yes, one can dream.
Counting every morsel, weighing every ounce, and keeping detailed record of every single move we make is overkill. Yes, keep track of things, but before it goes to extremes. It will eventually become a full-time job and ruin the fun of training.
5 Things You Should Do
There are a few hack-less practices that should be bedrocks for anyone on an eating plan for whatever goal. These are universal, simple, and timeless. With consistency, discipline, and persistence they will become second nature and easily added to any lifestyle situation.
- Clean up - You already know what to do when it comes to practicing healthy eating habits. Cut out the highly processed stuff, eat real, whole foods, and get a good variety form all macronutrient categories: lean proteins, complex, fibrous carbs, and healthy fats should top your grocery list. And one more note: go easy on the supplements—a little goes a long way.
- Prioritize protein - It’s a big ol' no-brainer that you need to put protein at the top of your list. This is a cold, hard fact regarding any goal you set out to achieve. Protein builds muscle, provides satiety, and keeps your metabolism churning toward the positive direction. Determine protein needs (about one gram per pound of bodyweight) and then everything else will follow.
- Carb wisely - No longer seen as the bane of a dieter’s master plan, carbs are a necessary tool for the highly trained. As your body’s preferred source of energy, you’ll need to regulate the right amounts in order to practice responsibly. As a starting point go with between one and two grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Fat Is friendly - As the proverbial cat has ran out of the bag, fat is no longer the enemy it was once perceived to be. Healthy sources such as nuts, olive oil, nut butters, and avocado can benefit any eating plan due to their power to fuel workouts, create satiety, and provide certain hormone regulation which is key to a healthy metabolism.
- Relax - Lastly, try not to sweat the small stuff. Needling too much in the weeds of your diet will only leave you frustrated, overwhelmed and fed up. Once you decide on a diet plan, stick to it for a significant length of time. Time will be your best indicator of its success or failure.
Shortcuts Don't Cut It
The problem with hacks is that the search for the latest and greatest shortcut may never end. You see, hacking into things to find the easiest processes is more of a general mindset than a limited end goal for something specific. In other words, once a hack, always a hack. Don’t be that person. Face the music and do what you need to do without the cute little tricks.
Keep perspective on your diet: