Google “diet types” and you may easily come up with a toilet roll-long list of different diets. Scroll through a social media feed of a few fitness personalities, however, and all you see is two types of images. It is either a table full of containers with “Sunday meal prep” caption. Or it is a stack of pancakes, which you will find so appealing that you might question whether a love for carbs is a new sexual orientation.
Generally, there are three broad diet approaches that we hear about the most in fitness: the Bro Diet, the Flexible Diet, the Intuitive Eating. Rather than strictly prescribing the meals, these diets are more of eating philosophies. Adherence to either of them usually means specific lifestyle choices and life attitudes that cause serious disagreements among many respectable people in the fitness industry. What is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly about each of these three approaches? Here they are and in the simple language. You are welcome!
The Bro Diet, aka Clean Eating, is mostly used by bodybuilders on a competition prep. The essence of the Bro Diet is to “clean up your menu” by eliminating everything considered (you guessed it) not clean. Ever seen “fit body feels better than any cake tastes” image on social media? This is a clean dieting moto!
👍🏼The positives of the Bro Diet are its simplicity and the fact that you indeed put clean foods in your body.
👎🏼The negative, however, is that you are bound to carry containers of food anywhere you go. And the only person your food will smell good to is you!
More seriously, however, on the Bro Diet, you always crave for something tasty and sweet. You desire those doughnuts, pizza, milkshake, chocolate, and pancakes all at the same time. Your life literally revolves around constant restrictions to not eat tasty food and craving that tasty food. Moreover, Bro Diet can be extreme in what it treats as forbidden food. Forget about red apples or any red vegetables on the Bro Diet! 😡 No wonder a bodybuilder’s mood swings like a monkey on a vine.
Also called If It Fits Your Macros, Flexible dieting solves the problem of craving for tasty foods. You can eat whatever you wish for as long as it falls within the range of macronutrients and calories you chose for yourself. Hence, its second name If It Fits Your Macros (IFFYM). If you need to lose weight, you eat fewer calories than you need to maintain your body weight. Simple math, no tricks!
👍🏼The main positive of the Flexible Diet is that you can eat stuff you actually enjoy, which is mentally much easier than constant restrictions in the Bro Diet. And you also do not have to make your meal prep a major Sunday event.
👎🏼On the other hand, the negative of the Flexible Diet is that many people take Flexible Diet to literally. No, all the calories allowed to you in a day cannot be composed of chocolate! IFFYM simply adds a little more flexibility to your diet. So don’t be fooled by the Instagram images of the enormous stacks of godly pancakes soaked in creme. This in not all that flexible dieters eat!
Intuitive Eating focuses on your ability to listen to your body and to understand when it is actually hungry. It does not put limitations on when you eat during a day. But it does put limitations on when you stop. You stop eating when your body is full.
👍🏼The positive of Intuitive Eating is that you are at peace with the food. Instead of focusing on calories and color of your meal, you learn to pay more attention to what your body tells you.
👎🏼The negative comes straight from this relationship with your body. How the hell you actually know when you are hungry? How exactly do you understand that you are full? Since many people have trouble differentiating hunger, thirst, and boredom, it is very easy to misuse the Intuitive Eating.
Even though we all know that girl who eats whatever she wants, drinks a cocktail or two on Saturdays, and still rocks the bikini in the summer and in winter, diets are uneasy for most of us. Following diets blindly, you can end up with a six pack and a stomach full of gas; you can eat awesome foods but have trouble putting on muscles, or you can be constantly stuck with a question “Am I hungry?” instead of being productive.
Find what works best for you. Whether it is the Bro Diet, where you are restricted and disciplined, The Flexible Diet, where you allow yourself things but know how to maintain the deficit or the Intuitive Eating, where you are in tune with your body and know when to respond to its calling. Just like in life, following other people’s paths will teach you lessons but might not necessarily lead you to the same outcome. Eating can certainly take a form of an approach you prefer to stick to, but the details of it are definitely on you to figure out.