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Sustainability of Flexible Dieting VS Meal Plans | Nutrition

Coach Jason supporting a client with his nutrition

— Jason Stoupas

Let’s start by saying that no matter what diet you choose to use; Keto, Caveman, Vegan, Vegetarian - weight loss/gain is governed by the principle of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics governs energy balance. Energy balance is the balance between everything we consume vs everything we expend. 

  • When your energy intake is equal to your energy expenditure you will maintain your bodyweight. (Imagine using 10L of fuel daily to drive to and from work and filling up 10L daily, you will never overfill your car and you will never run out of fuel either)

As seen in the image below; energy in is macronutrient consumption (the food that you eat) and energy out is overall energy usage which is our Total Daily Energy Expenditure(TDEE).

I will break down TDEE in my next blog :)

Your output is dictated by your input as well as many other factors. We use calories to measure our intake. A calorie is defined as: “the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.” Calories provide our bodies energy in the form of heat. Our bodies store and burn calories for fuel. 


The 3 Macronutrients 

  • 1 g Protein = 4 calories 

  • 1 g Carbohydrate = 4 calories 

  • 1 g Fat = 9 calories 

1 Non-Essential Macronutrient

  • 1 g Alcohol = 7 calories 

Alcohol is not considered one of the macronutrients. A macronutrient is a nutrient that you need in large amounts, and of course, alcohol is not essential; for most ;). Alcohol is the 4th non-essential macronutrient that most forget about. As with all of the other macronutrients, it provides energy to the body and can easily turn a deficit into a surplus. 

It is important to choose a method that is sustainable for long periods of time. Although calorie balance is the governing principle, ADHERENCE is the most important factor when choosing a diet strategy that will work. If you do not adhere to the plan, you will not reap the rewards. 

This is why everyone should do something that they can sustain for years, long enough to learn more about the foods which you are consuming. Along the way the chosen method should also educate you on nutrient vs calorie-dense foods, portion sizes and servings, fibre intake etc. 

Decreasing body fat should not be a common occurrence. Get away from yo-yo dieting. Extreme diets that cut out whole macronutrients or extreme amounts of food are extremely unrealistic and hard to maintain. If you think you can diet like that for long periods of time, well, go for it. Coming from someone who has done plenty of keto cutting phases. I can tell you for sure that I have made more progress and learnt far more in the recent years where I have been consistently tracking my food and eating a balanced diet. 

Here at HUSLA we believe in Flexible Dieting. Eating this way does NOT require you to cut out specific foods or macronutrient groups. You may eat whatever you like, in moderation. When you eat something ‘naughty’ it comes with a price, calories. Think of it like this. If you buy something expensive that’s out of your budget, then you have no option but to spend less the following days in order to stay out of debt. We know that if we don't cut out foods that we like and allow ourselves to eat them in moderation, dieting becomes a more sustainable and realistic process. Restriction on quantity is smart. Restriction on food selection, not so much. The devil is ALWAYS in the dose. 

At HUSLA, the methods we use to achieve results via nutrition is easy because our priority is client education. We believe that teaching you how to count your macros and meeting your intake goals over the span of a week, and not daily, will help create autonomy by teaching you to overcome hurdles along the way with flexibility. 

But what about meal plans? A meal plan reinforces the belief in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. For example; If you don't want to eat rice and you eat bread instead, which hasn’t been included in your diet plan, you may associate it as “bad”. This can then cause negative feelings such as guilt or shame due to your deviation from the plan. The reality is, meal plans don't actually educate you. There are a small minority of people that can actually adhere to the rigidity of a daily meal plan. The same foods, day in and day out is just not sustainable for the majority of people.

You might last on your meal plan for the duration of a 6-week challenge, but many of the meal plans that these kinds of challenges push are generally far too restrictive. They drive weight loss far too quickly. Generally, we aim for 1-3% of body weight loss per month. But remember, weight loss and fat loss are two different things, that’s a topic for another day. 

Adhering to these meal plans that create an aggressive deficit promotes under eating. Driving a big deficit for an extended period of time may allow you to drop a few kilo’s and feel accomplished for a little while.

But then what? You return back to your normal eating, “reward” yourself with “bad” foods and regain the weight you lost. Then your first instinct is to return to the shitty meal plan or do the 6-week challenge again, as yes, it worked for you once, so why wouldn't it work again? It’s likely that it will, but you will forever be stuck in the cycle of chasing your own tail by way of yo-yo dieting, with no education or development of autonomy in the process. 

To conclude, my advice is to just do something sustainable and do it slowly.

Thanks for reading guys, if this helped or you have any questions please reach out, I would love to hear from you :)

If you are looking to add any supplementation to your diet to help to meet protein requirements I recommend Bulk nutrients as they are an affordable Australian brand you can get a discount if you use the code: HUSLA

We also have a discount code on HUSLA T-Shirts. Code: 10OFF

— Jason Stoupas