Diet and exercise trends come and go, and with the influx of new trends promising to give you more results with less effort, deciding on a diet and exercise regiment can be a daunting task. Cassie Smith, writer/editor with Bodybuilding.com, weighs in on diet trends and seasonal workout plans, and offers up tips to achieve a fit lifestyle through a commitment to a healthy diet and exercise plan. Learn more about Cassie here.
What have you noticed about this season’s diet trends? Workout trends?
The problem with seasonal diet trends is that “diets” don’t work in the long term. If you’re starving yourself throughout spring so you can rock a bikini, your body is going to suffer. It’s not getting the nutrients it needs and you won’t be able to sustain a “crash” diet. As soon as you re-introduce normal food or go back to your regular routine, your body will just go right back to where it was before, or worse.
Yo-yoing is terrible for your body. Your hormones and metabolism get messed up and might affect you for months or years. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthy, whole food: more lean protein, more vegetables, better dietary fats, and less sugary, carb-loaded crap like donuts, Doritos, and soda. Eating well is a longer-term “diet” plan, but it actually works.
“The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthy, whole food: more lean protein, more vegetables, better dietary fats, and less sugary, carb-loaded crap like donuts, Doritos, and soda. Eating well is a longer-term “diet” plan, but it actually works.”
What do you make of the current Paleo trend?
People are really into Paleo lately. The problem I have with people who say they “eat Paleo” is that they’re probably not. The actual Paleo diet is contingent upon eating only what people in the Paleolithic era ate. Quite frankly, we don’t know exactly what they ate, how they ate it, and why. So, most people who eat a higher fat/ lower carb diet say they’re going “Paleo” when they’re really just eating healthier.
In general, a Paleo-inspired diet is a healthy way to eat: no processed garbage, no unnatural sugar, high protein, moderate fat, and lower carbs.
Abs. We all want them. What are we doing right/wrong?
Because of this dire need for a six-pack, people spend a lot of time doing crunches and other abdominal exercises. You’ll never see your abs if you’re not lean. Period.
Visible abs come from a good nutrition plan that will help you get lean. It doesn’t matter how many crunches or sit-ups you do, if you’re eating crap, your stomach won’t look any better.
“If people want to see their abs, they need to train hard enough to burn calories and eat healthy enough to get lean.”
How do diet/exercise trends tend to fluctuate with the seasons?
In the meathead world, winter is usually classified as “bulking season.” It’s when you get to utilize all of those extra calories you’d eat anyway for adding muscle. Really, you can’t put on muscle without giving your body the calories it needs to support it.
In general, I guess you could say spring and summer are for cutting and fall and winter are for bulking. The workouts don’t necessarily change, although some people will add more cardiovascular training in the summer in the hopes of burning more fat so they can see more muscle definition.
How can an individual who doesn’t regularly participate in daily exercise/dieting (or has trouble staying on a consistent schedule) begin and stay with these trends?
Workout trends are dumb. There’s no reason to follow them. The point of fitness is to get healthy. Health should be a 365-day quest, not something you try for a couple of weeks. The changes to your physique are just side effects of the more important changes that diet and exercise have on your body (lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, lower risks of pretty much every disease ever, higher brain function, better memory, denser bones, better heart function).
“Workout trends are dumb. There’s no reason to follow them. The point of fitness is to get healthy. Health should be a 365-day quest, not something you try for a couple of weeks.”
Choose a nutrition plan that you can stay with all year and an exercise regimen that you enjoy, that gets you in the gym three times per week, and that you can do consistently. That’s what brings results, not the cleanses or the Dr. Oz bullshit. If you’re totally new to the fitness realm, hire a trainer for a few sessions so he/she can show you around, teach you how to use the machines, and can help you build a program.
Do you have any recipes or exercises you find particularly helpful that others may not know about?
I’d point readers to bodybuilding.com for recipes and workouts. For nutrition: you can make healthy versions of food that you already enjoy. For example, instead of regular spaghetti noodles, buy whole-wheat noodles or use spaghetti squash. Buy pasta sauce that has less sugar, or make your own from tomato puree and spices. Don’t use so much cheese. Same thing goes with dessert. If you like to go get frozen yogurt, don’t get as much as you usually do and top it with fruit and nuts instead of candy. Nutrition really isn’t hard, it’s just making smart choices.
For workouts, I’d suggest doing something that challenges your whole body and your cardio all at once. Don’t rest too much when you’re lifting. Sixty seconds at most. Or, do circuits (doing exercises one right after the other without rest). But that’s just for people who are in the gym to lose weight. Some people want to build a lot of muscle; they’ll probably need a different lifting program.