THANKS to its colloquial meaning and people’s almost-compulsive need to be exceptional, average has become quite the dirty word
No-one will thank you for describing them as average. Yet when it comes to weight and fat-loss 'average' can be the difference between success and failure.
In dietary terms your 'average' is what you've done at the end of the week when you take into account the good, bad and average.
Average is what is left after the blow-outs, the binges and the purges.
Say you're trying to lose weight and have a daily deficit target of 500kcal/day. Monday to Friday you eat well but over the weekend thanks to an active social life you consume 1500kcal/day more than you planned,
Although you ate well for five days you two days you've completely nullified the sacrifices you made from Monday to Friday.
In fact across the whole week you now have an average daily intake surplus of 80kcal. Congratulation you're slowly putting on weight.
All successful diet work when your body isn't getting enough calories from food consumption and is forced to used existing stored fat for energy.
Therefore to lose weight we have to either restrict the amount of food or the type of food that we want to eat or both.
How much we cut out. what we cut out and how long we cut things out for is what takes up so much shelf-space in bookstores.
One thing you cannot do - regardless of what anyone might claim - is 'eat as much of the foods you want'
Eating as much of the food you want is what made you out of shape in the first place.
You can eat 'as much as you want' of certain foods but it is highly unlikely that these foods will be the things you want to eat.
Equally so you can continue to eat the foods that you love. But the portions you will now be allowed to eat will be much smaller.
So what's the solution? Are all diets doomed to fail?
Certainly not, the secret is to look at your 'average' intake - who'd have thought average would be the key?
As long as your average is where it needs to be for weight loss then you'll be fine. Which means you can have periods of relaxation and periods of strictness.
And this is where the personalisation of a nutrition plan is important. It might be that you have an iron will and can go 28-days without flinching. Then you need a week to relax before getting back to business.
It might be that you need frequent comfort breaks in which case you might benefit from a small number of 'pleasure meals' throughout the week.
Or it might be that you exist somewhere in between the two and find you can hold off the forces of temptation for around four or five days before needing a day to relax.
In each case the size and frequency of this 'dietary relaxation' is entirely dependent on how this will affect your daily or weekly average.
Obviously people who only need a small deviation from their good behaviour - adding chips to a steak and vegetable meal - can take more pauses from their 'good' while those need a larger deviation - ditching the salmon and brocolli and feasting on a Chinese takeaway Set meal for 2 - must pause less frequently.
But in all cases the diet will only work if you can keep yourself in a calorific deficit and this will only happen when you ensure your 'average' stays under your calorific target.