When you are setting up a diet, there are several crucial factors that you need to keep in mind like your calories, macronutrients and so forth. I talk about all of these in my other post, but in this one I want to share with you some small diet adjustments that I never really thought about until I noticed the effect they had on my physique and especially on my abs.
This seems super trivial but definitely isn’t. Obviously when you exercise your body needs more water. But there is also another reason why a high water intake is important.
As you diet, your cortisol will increase which leads to more water retention under your skin. Basically, your body holds on to all the water it can get and stores more of it than normal. This makes you look puffier and overall less ripped.
This is pretty much the worse case scenario when you are trying to get a six-pack. So to get rid of this problem you want to make sure to drink plenty of water. Your urine should always be light yellow.
If it’s dark yellow you are not drinking enough and you want to increase your water intake. A good starting point is to get around 2.7 liters (or 3/4ths of a gallon) of water for women and 3.7 liters (or a gallon) for men per day.
This should be your baseline to shoot for every day. Now, if you are like me and exercise regularly then, of course, you need to add some additional water to that baseline, simply because you sweat more than the average person. A good recommendation is to add 1 liter per hour of exercise, to make up for the additional sweating.
The right balance of sodium and potassium also plays a major role in your water retention. Sodium can be found in tables salt and potassium can be found in many vegetables and fruits like bananas. So if you feel your body retains too much water, play around a bit with these foods and see if you notice a difference.
Watch Your Essential Fatty Acids
The second diet adjustment that helped me a lot was to simply watch my essential fatty acids.
When you are following a calorie restricted diet you want to make sure to get enough essential fatty acids. Those are your omega 3s and 6s, which the body cannot make itself and needs to derive from foods. This is especially important if you follow a high-carb, low-fat diet.
Your omega 3s and 6s are vital for health and hormone production. Unforuntaley, many people get very little omega 3 through their diet. Because this can have a pretty drastic impact on your hormone levels I always try to get around 3 grams of fish oil every day.
If you are a vegan, plant-based alternatives include flaxseed oil and walnuts. Getting enough essential fatty acids will ensure a healthy hormone balance and good testosterone levels.
I really felt the difference after a few days and noticed improved energy levels, libido and just overall drive. Obviously, this helped with my workouts and also made the overall experience of dieting more pleasant.
Evaluate Your Diet On A Weekly Basis (Not Daily)
The last diet change is actually more of a mindset change than anything else. Basically what I would do before is look at my diet on a day to day basis. So I would track calories, macronutrients and food intake every day.
When I couldn’t resist the temptation of some chocolate and went over my total daily calories I would automatically get pissed or stressed out. This directly increased my cortisol levels and just made dieting so much more stressful.
It took me a while to realize that changes in body fat levels happen over time, which is also why your diet doesn’t have to be perfect every day as long as you follow it long term.
What helped me was to think of my calorie balance as a bank account. Every day that I was dieting correctly and in a calorie deficit I was paying money into my bank account. Every day that I was cheating on my diet and not in a calorie deficit I was taking money out of my bank account.
What matters at the end of the week are not the individual days but how much total money (= calories) you still have left in your account.
Nowadays I look at my diet over the course of a week and not on a day to day basis. If the total of the weekdays still adds up to a calorie deficit I don’t have anything to worry about even if there was a big cheat day in the middle.
This change in mindset helped me be a lot more relaxed about my meal plan and it also allowed me to adopt a more flexible approach to dieting in general.