The 4 Ps of the Perfect Diet

For some reason, dieting is seen as this super complicated thing.

It’s probably because every new diet book or program has a hook around a ‘secret’ to sell you.

But all diets at their core boil down to this one thing…

Calorie balance.

You need to eat less than you need to maintain your weight, or you won’t lose weight.

That’s the simplest definition.

Of course, activity levels, muscle composition, genes and about 400 other factors can play into it, but don’t even sweat that stuff to start.

Simply determine how many calories you need to maintain your weight and eat less than that.

Want fairly aggressive fat loss? (2 lbs/week) calculate your calories like so: Bodyweight x 10

But there’s more to the story. When you focus just on calories, you may drop weight, but you won’t always love how you look in the mirror.

Where most go wrong is on the macros side of things…

Macros are short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Together, these three things make up every single thing that you eat, from meat to veggies to dairy. (Alcohol is on its own as the fourth macro)

A diet low in protein is going to lead to as much muscle lost for energy as fat. It doesn’t tend to throw out just fat and keep muscle… unless you eat lots of protein and weight train.

So, this boils down to something I call the 4Ps of the Perfect Diet

1. Portions are everything.

You can eat anything you want, but not as MUCH as you’ll want (in the moment).

I like calorie tracking for this purpose, but many just don’t want to make this commitment. It can be a bit complicated at first. That’s where portioning by hand size comes in.

A palm or two of lean protein at every meal, a cupped hand or two of carbs, a fist or two of veggies, and a thumb of fats (unless your protein source is high in fat already).

2. Protein

The evidence is strong – Protein reduces your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

It also has a high TEF – or Thermic Effect of Food. Meaning that as much as 20-30% of the calories from protein are “burned off” just to digest the protein, compared to carbs (5-10%) and fat (0-3%).

Plus, it helps you maintain lean body mass as you diet down.

That’s why scale weight is not the only measurement of success.

A high protein intake may help prevent muscle loss when daily calories are reduced for weight loss.

3. Produce

Short and sweet here. You know greens are good for you. But I throw them in wherever I can on a diet for satiety reasons. They fill you up so you’re less likely to over-eat the high calorie stuff.

4. Pump

Cardio is not the best way to lose fat. Let me say that again. Cardio is not the best way to lose fat.

Instead, chase the pump in the gym. Your body soaks up carbs like a sponge when you train this way.

When you are overweight, your insulin levels are sky high, your body is truly hormonally conditioned to store fat.

Resistance training alters your body comp – I can technically eat more than my former obese self because resistance training and the muscle it develops alters your physiology to more efficiently use the food you ingest.

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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.