The DIY Diet

Fad diets and body cleanses are becoming a thing of the past. With a never-ending recession and the explosion of Pinterest, it’s no surprise the DIY-ers are taking over. So why not take the DIY route when it comes to your diet too!

The freedom that comes with the DIY diet is what makes it so sustainable. No longer will you have to follow a hard-back book or count points. DIY-ing your diet is the answer to your diet woes – all it takes is a little bit of time and effort and you’ll be on your way.

You can create a DIY diet many different ways, but what I’m providing for you here are 3 different variations that you can easily DIY based on your personal goals. Because every body is different, your diet will be different than your girlfriend’s diet even if she has the same goals. And you can take this diet to whatever level works best for you meaning that you can choose to only use the steps to success or you can take it up a notch by calculating your macro-nutrient needs and measure your foods accordingly. Either way you will have success as long as you stick with it for at least 4 weeks. FYI it takes 3-4 weeks for you to see any changes to your body, 6 weeks for your friends and family, and 2-3 months for the rest of the world. So get started!

Steps for Success:

1.    Your first assignment is to figure out how many meals you can commit to eating daily. When I say meals I’m not talking about Thanksgiving size servings. What I am saying is that snacks are considered meals too, so those count. At minimum you should have 3 meals per day. However, my suggestion is that you opt for 4-6 meals per day instead to help you avoid cravings and overeating at any one given meal. Eating more often has also been shown to boost your metabolism by keeping the furnace burning.

The easiest way to determine the amount of meals you can commit to eating per day is to think about your daily schedule. Are you an early riser and late to bed? If so, you should have more meals than someone who maybe goes to bed early every night. Can you eat at your desk at work? Etc. etc. Write down your schedule and pencil in times at which you plan to eat breakfast, lunch, snack then dinner, etc. etc.

2.    Protein is your friend – eat it at every meal! The key to a healthy diet is to incorporate lean proteins in to your day with every meal and snack. This could be as simple as making a smoothie for breakfast with Greek yogurt (your protein source), fresh berries and tossing in some crushed almonds or grilling chicken (protein) for dinner and having leftovers for lunch the next day. Keep it simple and prepare food in advance for best results.

3.    Fill up on nutrient dense foods like complex carbs, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Carbs provide energy your body needs to get through the day and an intense workout. Choose healthy ones like oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grain breads, pastas and fruits. Healthy fats keep you feeling fuller longer, promote soft skin and hair, and help boost weight loss. When it comes to healthy fats – stick with oils (olive, sunflower, coconut, etc), avocado, low fat cheeses and mixed nuts.

4.    Fruits and Veggies are free foods. If you’re feeling hungry after lunch or dinner, have an apple or an orange. It's a much better choice than seconds or dessert and you'll find yourself full and that your craving for something to eat has been satisfied. It’s amazing how hard it is to overeat fruit - it’s just not something most people can stomach.

5.    Plan for success. A great way to stay on track is to plan out what you’d like to eat for each meal every day of the week. Write it out on paper so you can see it visually, then prep as much as you can in advance and make sure you have everything on hand in the house for when you need it. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail. So write it down, shop for supplies, and prep. If you work outside of the home, prepare your lunch and snacks for the day the night before, that way you can throw it all in a lunch tote with some ice packs before heading out the door in the morning  you won’t end up picking up something expensive and unhealthy for lunch elsewhere.

Up a Notch:

For those of you who feel ease with a set diet to follow, here is your chance to calculate your own diet and DIY-it. The macro-nutrient numbers below are estimates and do account for actual food consumed. These numbers are also geared toward someone who is exercising 5-6 days per week. Choose your goal and follow the calculations below. Once you have your numbers you should then divide each by the number of meals you want to eat per day. Those numbers will then be the amount of protein, carbs and healthy fats you should be having at each meal.

1.    Weight Loss – Protein: 1.2 grams per lb. of body weight Carbs: 1g per lb. body weight Fats: divide carbs by 2

2.    Muscle Building – Protein: 1.5-2 grams per lb. of body weight Carbs: 1.2 – 1.5 grams per lb. of body weight Fats: divide carbs by 3

3.    Maintenance – Protein: 1.2 grams per lb. of body weight Carbs: 1.2 g per lb. of body weight Fats: multiply carbs by 0.6

Example using a 125lb girl who is looking to lose weight: a girl who weighs 125 lbs. should have 150 grams of protein (at 1.2g/lb. bw) per day; 125 grams of carbs and 62.5 grams of fat (round up to 63).

These are all estimates. Eating slightly over or under is perfectly acceptable and will not hurt your progress. This diet is equivalent to about 1667 calories per day.

Her diet might look as such: -    Meal #1: 40g Protein; 50g Carbs; 20g fat -    Meal #2: 35g Protein; 40g Carbs; 13 g fat -    Meal #3: 35g Protein; 30g Carbs; 10g fat -    Meal #4: 40g Protein: 30g Carbs; 20g fat

A great way to use this method without getting in to the nitty gritty is to simply use these numbers as an ideal of what you plan to eat at each meal. What I mean is that you keep this stuff in your head and when you go to serve yourself a meal you will have a roundabout portion size appropriate for your goals. Knowing that you want to have about 40g of protein for breakfast you can easily opt for 3 or 4 egg whites with a protein smoothie made with 1 scoop protein powder and fruit with a side of whole-wheat toast with natural peanut butter on top. You get the point – hopefully.

Don’t be afraid of herbs, spices and condiments. Get creative with your meals and change things up often to avoid diet boredom. The benefit of a DIY diet is that you get to choose what you want to eat and when. And if after 4 weeks you are not seeing the results you want, that means it may be time to re-evaluate and make a change. Until then, stick with the plan and have confidence - the results will follow. Good luck!