A Diet for All Seasons

You might think your heavy exercise routine is the golden ticket to the perfect beach body, but there’s more to the story.


The expat lifestyle can be boozy, sedentary, and unhealthy. Since the turn of the year, I have written a lot about fitness, looking at any number of exercise regimes from piloxing and aerial yoga, right through to CrossFit and TRX, but when it comes to fitness and health, exercise and working-out, as important as they are, are only part of the story. A healthy diet and eating right is absolutely essential, too.

Before looking at dieting, you must first identify your maintenance caloric requirements. These are the calories you need to intake every day in order to maintain your status quo. There are various websites and methods for calculating such things (try nutritiondata.self.com/tools/calories-burned, or www.active.com/fitness/calculators/calories).

The basics
Want to cut fat? Put simply, eat 500 calories less than your daily maintenance level. Make sure to continue with regular exercise to offset any muscle loss that might occur due to consuming less than the minimum maintenance (Note: if you are new to exercise, you will not be able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time).

There is a huge amount of information online about eating and foods. So, always do your research and consider consulting a doctor before embarking on any of the diets listed here. With all that being said, let’s see what’s out there!

Want to cut fat? Put simply, eat 500 calories less than your daily maintenance level. Make sure to continue with regular exercise to offset any muscle loss that might occur due to consuming less than the minimum maintenance.

The keto diet
A ketogenic diet is quite simply any form of consumption that forces the body into ketosis, whereby fats are burned instead of carbohydrates for use as energy. To achieve this, you’ll need to consume high amounts of fat, adequate protein and very little carbohydrates. By eating a low carbohydrate diet, blood sugar levels stay low and steady, and as a result, carb-induced hunger spikes are avoided.

Successful keto dieting requires a proper balancing of your macronutrient ratios. It is generally recommended that ketogenic dieters should consume about 60% of their macronutrients from fat, 35% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate intake should generally be limited to less than 50 grams per day.

Keto differs from the Atkin’s Diet in that there is a carb load day. Once a week the ratios switch around to require 60% carbs, 35% protein and 5% fats. Still, this does not give you a free license to eat anything. Stick to brown rice, oats and sweet potatoes.

IIFYM (if it fits your macros)
IIFYM eating flies in the face of conventional dieting. This basic notion that anyone who wants to get in shape must follow a stringent consumption plan, needs to eat precise times during the day, can only have certain types of food pre- and post-workout and that any deviation from this strict structure is breaking the rules of the diet, is refuted by this concept.

0616_healthThe idea of IIFYM is simple: eat whatever foods you like to fill out your daily allotment of proteins, carbs and fats.

The obvious appeal of this diet is its flexibility. You don’t need to worry about only sticking to “clean foods,” eating every two hours, or forcing egg whites and spinach down your throat just because your plan says so.

You still eat quality, wholesome and nutrient-dense foods, but you have a lot more leeway during the process.

Not interested in breakfast? Don’t worry, just hit your macros by eating bigger meals during the rest of the day. Longing for a burger? That’s fine—you’ll probably use up your whole day’s carb and fat allowance on the bun and fries, but you can compensate by relying on chicken, lean beef, protein shakes and non-starchy vegetables for the rest of the day. Hate the taste of brown rice, wholemeal bread and sweet potatoes? No problem—eat the white varieties and just add in extra vegetables, beans or a fiber supplement to make sure you’re getting in enough of the good stuff.

You might not want to do this every day of the week, but once in a while it’s no big deal.

Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and not eating. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat.

Most people already fast every day while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that period a little longer. You can easily do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 p.m. With this, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day and restricting your eating to an 8-hour window. This 16/8 method is the most popular form of intermittent fasting.

Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly simple to accomplish. In fact, many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast. Hunger is usually not too big of an issue, except at the beginning, while your body is still getting used to not eating for extended periods of time.

Though no food is allowed during the fasting period, you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.

So, there you have it—a few different types of dieting to get you started. Try one of these methods and find out what works best for you. To your health!