Sorry guys and gals – I’m going to make you have to read to get the answer ūüėČ

The Beginning. 

Let’s face it. There are more diets out there than we can even count. So which one is truly the best? Most recently a group of authors and researchers (plus a little of my own research) have looked at many studies to help determine which diet is truly the most effective and best in regards to¬†weight loss.¬†

This study looked at “name brand” diet interventions (i.e. Atkins, South Beach, etc.).

The Critical Elements. 

A few key things to note from this:

  • The studies DID include exercise and behavioral interventions but not all of them. Remember this is a¬†cumulative analysis.
  • They had to have lasted 6 months, some lasted longer, and the longest lasted a ¬†year.

Diets Assessed:

  • Atkins – Low Carb
  • Biggest Loser – Moderate carb, moderate fat
  • Jenny Craig – Moderate carb, moderate fat (customized meals)
  • LEARN – low fat to moderate
  • Nutrisystem – moderate
  • Ornish ¬†– Low Fat
  • South Beach – Low Carb
  • Volumetrics – Moderate
  • Weight Watchers – Moderate
  • Zone – Low Carb (in phases)

The researchers that assessed these took into consideration all interventions, including exercise, and ranked them based on strength of the modifications done.

What did the results say???

So this doesn’t answer the original question, but here were the findings (after 1 year):

  1. Any diet > no diet (DUH!)
  2. Low Carb diets were only slightly superior to low fat diets (8.73 vs. 7.99kg lost)
  3. Low Carb and Low Fat Diets had nearly equal effects on weight loss in comparison to the moderate based diets.
  4. Of the individual diets, the Atkins and Ornish (10.1 and 9kg, respectively) were the most effective at both the 6 and 12 month markers.
  5. (This is my favorite one) – Behavioral Support resulted in greater weight loss (3.23kg more than using diets with no support) over the 12 month period.

Let me say, however, that it’s very difficult to make conclusive statements, hence the use of my lingo up there. There are way too many factors involved to definitively say and Scientifically say one works over the other.

What does all of this dribble mean????

It means just that. There is no “universally optimal” diet. That’s just life.¬†The best diet is a diet that one can adhere to.

Sorry that’s not the answer many of us are looking for, but I’m going to give some better strategies below that will help with that.

So what truly is the best diet?

The best diet is one you can adhere to. Low Carb and Low fat lead to greatest long term results, but not by much, and only with named diets in this particular research. There are many other factors that make it impossible to say one is truly the best.

So how do I follow this diet?

Simple. Create habits. Let’s use ‘Sally’ as an example below. Read this scenario.

Awesome Darin: “Sally, we are going to create a habit for you in order to fix your diet long term. The first habit is to eat one serving of colorful vegetables per day for two weeks and we will build on that. Can you do that?”

Sally: “That’s it?! That’s way too easy. I can eat 5 servings per day for two weeks, can I just do that??”

Awesome Darin: “Sure, but I only want you FOCUSING on 1 serving per day”

Here are two scenarios to ponder:

Trainer gives sally a goal of 5 servings per day, she does it for two days, then by day 5, she’s down to 1 serving per day. Sally’s progress starts high, the habit is never built, and she regresses instead of progresses.

Awesome Darin only reinforces the one serving per day, Sally complies for two weeks, and she has successfully built a habit that she can now add on to.

Which do you truly think would have the most success over a year?

So the point is this. Create simple habits. FOLLOW them. Then add new ones. Make them attainable every single day. That’s the best diet out there.¬†

-Darin Hulslander, CSCS, Precision Nutrition Level 1 (Level 2 in progress)

Source:¬†Patel, Karmal, ed. “ERD Research Digest.”¬†ERD Digest¬†1st ser. 1.2 (2014): 21-27. Web. 21 May 2015.


Why Punishments Never Work!


After some serious discussion with multiple people this week, I wanted to create a post ¬†on the whole “punishment scenario” in fitness. I saw a trainer yesterday making his client row 100m for every gram of sugar his client ate. It just didn’t make sense so I immediately gathered some reading and consulted some people and wanted to share my findings.

My goal as a trainer is to get people to their goals and to allow them to move faster, better, and as efficiently as possible versus on their own, if on their own at all.

If you remember anything from your elementary science days, it’s that we use rats, dogs, etc. both for rewards and punishments. They ‘avoid’ the punishment by doing the assigned task. Except there’s one thing wrong with that in regards to us:


What does the research say?

Research says this about rewards and punishments:

  • Only works for short periods of time
  • Is primarily effective for children and animals
  • it’s best used for basic motor skills (fall of riding a bike, get hurt)

But I’m referencing this post into more daily adult tasks, beyond exercise. Exercise and nutrition are simply my specialties.

I read a research study about a crossfit box motivating clients to eat better by punishing them with burpees for every bad calorie they ate at the end of the month. Guess what? A lot of people were doing burpees.

Let’s think about why this is?

No one cared. The end justified the means. They simply shrugged their shoulders and did some burpees at the end of the month. 

This accomplishes 3 major negative things:

  • Exercise is a form of punishment
  • You can buy your way out of a bad diet or habit
  • Eating healthy has more strict rules than 3rd grade math.

Is that what you want a client to think? NO WAY!

Here’s a fact:¬†Rewards illicit the same part of our brain as chemical drugs used for highs.¬†

Also,¬†pain avoidance activates the brain’s fear center.¬†

That’s why so often we freeze up when we are scared or frightened.

So how do we avoid this?

For one, you must build a solid relationship. I always pride on knowing my clients like my best friends. There’s no need to punish someone in that regard. They trust and depend on you, and do not want to let you down. No need for a punishment when you have this superpower of relationship control.

Recognize growth rather than reward: Celebrate a great accomplishment. This allows for reinforcement versus a reward or punishment. Clients will benefit more long term from this.

Here’s an example:

“Congrats on finishing your first 5k in under 30 minutes! I will pay your entry fee into your next 5k so we can zoom even faster into it!”

-This gets the client pumped for the next one, versus:

“if you finish this 5k in under 30 minutes, I will pay your next fee”

-This allows the client to simply say ‘meh, if I don’t, oh well’. This is¬†NOT the type of reaction we seek.

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