How Strict Should Your Diet Be?

Did you know that depriving yourself of foods you enjoy could actually be destroying your fat loss efforts in the long run? If you want to lose fat permanently and healthily without going cravings, binges or other diet nightmares, then here”s what you must do instead…

Find a sensible way to work all your favorite foods into your diet, but do it in an amount and frequency that doesn”t sabotage your progress.

This can be done in two ways.

1. The most common method is to have a regular “free meal” (a.k.a. “cheat meal). Within reason, you can eat whatever you like for this one meal.

2. Another method, which I actually prefer, is to work these “treat foods” into your daily calorie allowance, but still ensure that you still get enough protein and healthy fats via your other meals.

It”s important to find a balance.

Too many meals or days off the program and your results are compromised. Too many days in a row eating nothing but “diet food” and you go insane with cravings.

How strict you need to be with your diet program varies from person to person. It depends a lot on how ambitious your goals are and on how responsive your body is to nutrition and exercise.

When making your decision, keep in mind we all have different genetics and body  types, which is something I discuss in great detail in my book, The Flat Abs Formula.

For example, are you a carb-tolerant mesomorph who gains muscle easily and loses fat easily or are you a carb-sensitive endomorph who gains fat easily? Depending on the answer, your diet program may need to be more or less strict than others.

I suggest eating “on-plan” 90% of the time, and enjoying “off-plan” foods 10% of the time.

Whether you adjust your level of compliance above 90% (get more strict) or below 90% (get more lenient), depends how far away or close you are from achieving your goals, and most importantly, on what kind of results you”re getting each week.

If you”re complying 90% of the time, and you”re getting great results, then you don”t have to change a thing, and you may even be able to loosen up your diet a little.

90% compliance means you are following healthy nutritious, fat-burning eating guidelines 9 meals out of 10, or for the majority of your calories each day.

Even for those fitness models and bodybuilders preparing for competitions, 100% compliance is unrealistic and unnecessary. In this situation however, option 2 of working favourite foods into calorie and macronutrient constraints would be the way to go. I use this method myself (rather than the more common “free meal” approach) and I actually include chocolate and other “treat foods” in my diet on a DAILY basis.

As long as I meet my minimum protein and healthy fat requirements, and stay within my calorie allowance, I can do this with absolutely NO set-back to my physique goals! You can learn how to calculate your own minimum requirements and daily calorie allowance in The Flat Abs Formula eBook or if you hate calorie counting, I can do it all for you with a Bespoke Nutrition Plan.

I prefer this approach over the “free meal” approach, because I have seen people use the term “free meal” pretty loosely (basically turning it into a binge), and they can do a lot of damage to their progress if this happens on a regular basis.

Moderation and balance is key. Allow yourself some leeway. Enjoy food. Enjoy life. Have your ice cream, or pizza or whatever makes your stomach happy. It will help, not hurt in the long run. Just be sure to be mindful of your calorie limits, and when you say you are going to comply 90% of the time, then keep your promise to yourself and comply!

Remember: Total deprivation of pleasure foods is a bad idea, because you always tend to crave what you cannot have. That”s a binge waiting to happen. Discover your “healthy balance” and create a diet that”s both sustainable, and suitable for your personal body type.

    What do you find the hardest thing about sticking to a diet?
    Do you use one of these “treat” strategies already?
    I”d love to hear your answers in the comments section below!

One reply on “How Strict Should Your Diet Be?

  • Ellie

    For it means giving up pizza chocolate ice cream, bread pasta and rice 90% of year (treat enjoyment foods aka junk and just at Xmas birthday / parents birthday family get together: I have gone eight weeks so far and my craving for these foods have vanished. I have tonne more energy as I’m cycling/walking regular. I want to stick to this plan for rest of my life, the same with rigid routines for enjoyment activities, seeing a mate occasionally and never turning up to social group , mh cafe in my life. I learned that mistake for far too long went to the most boring social group where no one barely spoke or just about daily weather and meaningless topics and went insanely crazy at my friends house with a load of binge foods on regular basis and then went into the lockdown whilst as
    I couldn’t go to university to be with friends I binged a lot more on daily basis and didn’t move off the sofa because of zoom lectures were 9-5m with 30 minute tea break and at the time I hated going out anyway it was dark till but also loved the freedom of productivity and overworking but I got sick ended up in hospital twice and now I’m concerned it’s all gonna happen again if my placement stops in two weeks due to issues with my health at the moment and I either have to repeat the year again if they decided it’s no point in me returning and it’s yet another waste of time, energy and commitment and proving to my parents, everyone else that I am useless as fuck and this time shit will hit the fan.
    Then I’m gonna take a very long vacation from the daily world apart from meeting it once to go for my mandatory exercise 2 hours plus exercising everyday. The only thing I feel I have control over. So the next week’s I am gonna see how I can improve the situation, take nootropics sleep a lot better and more self care. So what if I have to give up caffeine, drink herbal tea and drink a tonne of hot milk and get used to rather relaxing but boring music. Then exercise and get ready to go to bed.
    If I can fit in one hour a day of my favourite show I can watch it a little bit more at weekends depending on if I have got my stuff to do. I have already thought through how I’m gonna meet my outcomes this week once i pass all 5 in two weeks. I don’t know if they want me to do all 5 every day I need to know the specifics details and hopefully they figure out what wrong, why am I feeling and reacting and hopefully ease me with more support, mentor and software

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