Signs Your Diet Is Not Working for you

In our last post, we discussed how a diet compares to a lifestyle, and discovered why focusing on your lifestyle instead of a diet is the key to long term, sustainable health. For many people, they bounce from diet to diet, searching for that lifestyle which will work for them. But, how do you know when you should try something new with your diet in order to get to a lifestyle which fits what you want? In this post, we’ll talk about a sign for each of the three diets we highlighted last time as signs your diet is not working for you.

Signs Your Diet is Not Working for You

To show signs your diet is not working for you, the following three diets are highlighted:

  1. Ketogenic Diet
  2. Macro Counting
  3. Paleo Diet

The Ketogenic diet

For those who are unaware of what the keto diet is, follow this link for a full primer. However, to summarize quickly, the keto diet is an extremely low carbohydrate program which also has a fairly low amount of protein prescribed. Essentially, you eat between 70 and 90% of your daily calories from fat. Approximately 5% is from carbohydrates, and the rest can be protein.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to get your body to burn ketones for energy. Interestingly, your body actually can process ketones in a very similar manner to the way it processes glycogen. By burning ketones, you are using fat for energy. Proponents of this diet claim heightened mental awareness, body fat and weight loss, and complete loss of cravings.

This all sounds great, right? It certainly can be if you can stay in ketosis. How do you know if this is certainly NOT working for you?

The number one sign your diet isn’t working for you:

The “keto flu” is when you feel extremely lethargic, even ill, from the lack of carbohydrates in your diet and therefore glycogen in your system. You should get through this phase in no more than four weeks. If after this point you still feel absolutely terrible, this diet is not working for you. One of two things has happened. You either are not in ketosis (it is seriously challenging to do, and very difficult to maintain) or you simply are not made to follow this diet.

Macro counting

Macro counting, or “macros” is the process of weighing and measuring everything you eat. Had a splash of cream in your coffee? Needs to be measured. Chipotle bowl for lunch? Crack out the scale. You’re given a set of macronutrient numbers to hit each day of your diet, and the success of the diet rests on your ability to correctly track everything that you are eating.

People who follow this diet claim the benefits of significantly improved body composition at record times (less fat and more muscle tone, quickly), feelings of control over your body and your health, and simplicity in food choices. There are many, many examples of incredible transformation using macros on the Working Against Gravity Instagram page, and the RP Transformations Instagram page.

The number one sign your diet isn’t working for you:

If you are becoming completely obsessed with food, thinking about everything you have eaten and are going to eat that day, and stressing out every time you go to a restaurant, this diet is not working for you. The idea behind macros is actually to give you flexibility in food choices. As long as you hit those macro goals, you’re good. It is meant to destress your life, not add stress to it. If macros stresses you out, it isn’t working for you.

The paleo diet

The paleo diet is the idea that you eat the same foods our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era. This means you are not going to eat grains, legumes, or dairy. This originally became very popular in the CrossFit community, and gained fame as this fitness style exploded onto the scene.

However, it is important to understand that CrossFit’s recommendation to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no added sugar does not exclude any specific food group. Specifically for performance results, it is really important to include ample carbohydrates in your diet. The paleo diet can make this challenging, but the proponents of it claim increased energy and attention span, the ability for the food to act as a medicine for you, and improved body composition.

The number one sign your diet isn’t working for you:

The number one sign this diet is no longer working for you is twofold: you feel lethargic, and you aren’t seeing changes in your body composition. These are two of the biggest benefits of paleo, so if you aren’t seeing either, both are among signs your diet isn’t working for you.

Just because your diet isn’t working for you doesn’t mean it is a bad diet.

People often fall into the trap of believing because a diet didn’t work for them means the diet doesn’t work for anyone.

Don’t fall for this. Signs your diet isn’t working for you are present when the diet is not able to be your lifestyle. In fact, you may at some point come back to that diet and find it works great. Be aware of how individual nutrition is, and take the time to see if your diet works for you or not. Adjust as needed, and if you can’t on your own, find a coach.