Whose Love Handles Are Those?
It happens. You see a photo of yourself that a friend posted on Facebook. Or you use one of those dressing rooms with three-way mirrors. You know, the ones that show you parts of your body you hadn't seen at quite that angle before.
And then it hits you: you've gotten a little fat. Or maybe a lot fat. You decide it's time to tighten things up and drop the fluff. So, how should you change your diet? Big decision. Choose wrong and you'll stay fluffy, or you'll re-fluff again quickly.
People respond differently to different diet approaches. Much depends on your personality: your habitual behaviors, how you think, and your emotional patterns that evolve from both biological and environmental factors. It's what makes you, well, you.
With that in mind, here are the two broad, primary types when it comes to fat loss:
The Get-It-Done (GID) Type
Once this guy or gal decides to lose some fat, they want to fix the problem fast. They don't mind the extra work, the sacrifices, or the lifestyle change. In fact, they flourish under those conditions.
The GID type would actually get discouraged by a slow and steady approach, even if that approach is effective. Lose a pound of fat per month and reach your modest goal in 10 months? Get outta here! This type needs to see fast results to stay motivated.
More importantly, they need to feel that what they're doing is effective, even if it hurts a little. And they need to feel like they're in control. They actually like to micromanage.
Most people think they're GIDs, but they aren't. Everyone wants the extra fat gone yesterday, but not many are ready to make the major changes necessary. The first bit of discomfort often causes them to quit. But real GIDs thrive on getting strict.
An Example of a GID Type
John has lost all trace of his abs and his love handles are starting to show through his T-shirt. Not good. He decides to add in three metcon workouts a week, separate from his regular workouts.
He takes a fairly low-carb approach to diet. That means he's going to change what he eats for breakfast, lunch, dinner. He'll need to prep foods on Sunday to pack to work for lunch. No more Chipotle. And since he's had success before by dropping the evening snacks, he'll adopt that approach too. No eating after 8PM.
He'll also need to go to bed earlier to fit in those extra morning cardio sessions. And since he knows he finds it hard to resist the booze when he hangs out with his friends, he's going to skip the club scene for a while.
To speed things up and help him preserve muscle, he'll add a couple of supplements to his arsenal, each taken twice per day. He'll set reminders on his phone. Think a fat burner like Hot-Rox® Extreme along with a protein pulse of Mag-10® to on cardio days to preserve muscle, and another pulse between meals to further speed fat loss and replace snacks.
Taken as a whole, this is a major lifestyle change. The foods he eats will change, what he does on weekends will change, his weekday habits will change, and even his sleep patterns will need to be altered. He's making a lot of sacrifices.
Since John is a GID type, these major changes will lead to rapid fat loss. It's a major disruption of his usual routine, but those love handles will melt quickly, and that's what he needs to see happen to stay motivated and compliant with this plan.
- Rapid results. Easy to stay motivated when changes occur quickly.
- Slightly more at risk of doing dumb shit, getting excessively strict, or even developing an eating disorder in extreme cases. In fact, a few studies have shown that those with disordered eating tendencies tend to be drawn to overly-strict nutrition plans.
- This type is also more prone to fall for silly diets that ultimately backfire. Remember, they need to suffer a little, even if it's not necessary.
- This personality type is more at risk of rebound. Since their plans are often very strict and unsustainable, they'll need to be smart about how they end their diets and avoid binge eating.
The Slow and Steady (SAS) Type
This person is the opposite of the GID, but has the same fat-loss goals. He or she knows from experience that super strict plans that require major lifestyle overhauls just don't work for them. Oh, they WORK alright, but only for a few days. Then it's rebound city.
They're not lazy, nor do they lack willpower; they're just not wired for the fast and strict approach. They'll feel overwhelmed, then quit. Too many changes stress out the SAS type. They do much better making one change at a time.
An Example of a SAS Type
David just realized that his pecs are looking more like boobs. Not the look he was going for. So he decides to make one change per week.
For example, instead of counting calories or dropping every gram of carbohydrate from his diet, he first decides to improve the quality of his food choices. The sugary breakfast cereal is out and oatmeal and protein powder are in.
That'll keep him full and prevent energy crashes and cravings. He'll do this for a week or so before he changes anything else, then he'll add another change that's helpful but doesn't require him to rearrange his life.
After a few weeks of getting used to food replacements, he decides to add 5 minutes of metcon work to the end of every workout. Next week he'll take a closer look at his macros and calorie intake and maybe drop 200 calories a day if needed. Later he'll add just one supportive supplement and a long walk after dinner each evening.
What he won't do is make all these changes at once. His fat loss will be slow and steady though.
- Very little risk of losing muscle, harming health, or rebounding. Healthy changes have time to "stick" and become long term habits.
- The SAS type will also learn exactly what works for him since he's only making one change at a time.
- Slower progress.
- Since progress is slow, it could affect motivation and compliance. If it takes weeks to see results, it's easier for some people to go back to their old ways.
- It's easier for this personality type to rationalize. Example: "Well, I'm eating a healthy breakfast now so I deserve that late-night ice cream." There's just not enough positive change to make up for the "rewards" for being slightly good.
Which Is Better?
Neither. Your diet style is closely related to your personality. You just need to honestly evaluated which type you are (or which one fits your current situation/mindset) and use that approach.
The Happy Medium Approach
The GID and SAS types could actually learn a lot from one another. The GIDs could avoid rebounds if they took things a little slower and allowed their good dietary habits to solidify. The SAS's could get faster results and stay motivated if they took a few cues from the GIDs.
But there's a third option that many find to be the best of both worlds, and it works for both personality types. Think of it as a fiery explosion followed by a slow and steady burn:
- Adopt a more radical GID approach for a set amount of time, say 1-4 weeks. You'll see results quickly, get fired up, and stay motivated.
- Then move to more of a SAS approach: keep only those changes that you can sustain. That way you'll keep going and the extra chub will keep melting off.
There are endless ways of doing this, depending on your preferences. You could drop carbs down to 50 grams per day for two weeks, then move them up to something more moderate. You could count calories and macros for a month, learn a lot from that experience, then "eyeball" things from then on.
Or you could try something like the Velocity Diet for 2-4 weeks. (Get the free Velocity Diet ebook here.)
It's strict, but think of it as a kick-start to your progress, or a quick stint in dietary rehab until you regain control and see some positive changes.
The Mindset Factor
Along with personality, your current mindset plays a role. A slow and steady type who has just gotten a divorce and is hitting the dating scene again may thrive with a get-it-done approach. He's got some fire under his butt.
Likewise, a GID who's very busy with career and family responsibilities may do better with a more relaxed SAS approach until things settle down at work or the little carpet monkey finishes potty training.
"Look within" as they say, be honest about your personality traits, evaluate your current situation and mindset, and choose wisely. And if you're a coach, evaluate your clients as best you can and hit them with the nutrition approach that most closely matches their personalities.