Cookie cutter diets and generic meal plans that can be found on the internet have forever fooled the hopeful dieter that they’ve found the golden ticket for results. Many fitness internet sensations and influencers are pocketing off these diets resulting in many unhappy, unsuccessful dieters with broken relationships with food. These diets are uncustomised to both the individuals intake needs and their food preferences making them doomed to fail from the get go.
How to tell a cookie cutter diet from a science based customised meal plan?
Our Equalution client, down 8kgs and 42cm in body measurements.
This was achieved through a flexible diet approach allowing her to enjoy her favourite foods such as nutella, icecream and chips, among lean meats and vegetables.
1. You’re not asked specific contextual questions - things like age, weight, height, activity level, dieting history, medical conditions etc.
These questions are important to determine your metabolic capacity and therefore intake needs in terms of protein, fats and carbs. Any meal plan that is not formulated on the basis of your individual intake needs is going to be hit and miss regardless of the food quality.
2. You’re told when to eat.
Meal timing has has long been preached in the health and fitness industry as the golden key for optimum results hailing smaller meals in higher frequency maximised thermogenic effect of food (how much you burn digesting what you eat) which people equate to ‘keeping their metabolism fired up’. Anecdotal scientific studies in recent years have concluded that the relationship between meal frequency and timing is irrelevant in achieving fat loss. You should not be stopping your life every 2.5 hours to eat at a specific hour - bro trap!
3. You’re told what not to eat.
If a meal plan is telling you specific foods are good and bad for you disregarding their caloric and macronutrient value than this should raise alarm bells as to the level of education of the prescriber as well as the effectiveness on the plan. The immediate concern is that this is not how your body recognises food - it’s instead utilised as protein fats and carbs and whether you lose weight or gain weight is dependent on whether you’re burning more or less than consumption. The long term concern of categorising food as good or bad as these plans often do is the resulting detriment to your relationship with food. You then start to look at food as good or bad, restrict yourself and prohibit food groups in turn causing yo-to dieting and binge eating.
4. You’re given a guide, choice and no numeric boundaries.
If a meal plan is giving you some mix and match choices that are as different as say 1 large banana or 50g of almonds then this places concerns around the varying intake you’ll have on a day to day basis. Some days you may be in a deficit, some days maintaining, other days in a surplus which will not be ideal for optimum results.
5. The meal plan doesn’t change.
If your progress isn’t at all factored into the modification of your plan or you’re expected to stick to one plan with minimal food choices indefinitely this is a classic case of an online ‘coach’ trying to pump out as many generic diets with a focus on quantity over quality. Not only are you just a number but there’s a high chance that even with movements on the scale, measurements, changes in your body they’d likely not be competent enough to strategise using that information anyhow.
6. You’re on every supplement under the sun.
There is very little room for supplementation in a balanced, and nutritious diet. Some supplements like protein powders, and bars and mass gainers for weight gain focused clients are a convenient and easy way to hit macro targets. However if you’re getting a stack of pre workouts, fat burners and popping vitamins for days this is a bro science trap that will be an expensive and ineffective one to get lured into.
7. There’s no willingness to object.
If your coach is responding to your dictations without sharing an educated opinion in conjunction with their experience then this is an example of a quick fix saving the company time and keeping you tight lipped regardless of whether or not it’s in the best interest of your health. People often get impatient on fat loss journeys and request quick calorie drops (or in the case of generic meal plans less food), cutting gluten, cutting dairy etc and truth be told this is not their area of expertise and a reminder as to the pros and cons is always welcomed and necessary. Sound harsh? This all comes down to not what is said but how it’s said in order to maintain a good relationship between yourself and your coach.
In an industry that is flooded with every fitness model trying to make a quick buck on generic diets and meal plans be wary in the selection of your coach keeping alert for red flags. Just because a fitness model looks the part doesn’t mean within 4 weeks your body will replicate theirs. Needless to say their transformation photos and how the client got there need to be recognised in light of a restrictive process and a numeric basis that was a ‘lucky calorie deficit’ and likely to be unsustainable. It’s like those that cut carbs, go paleo, don’t eat after 5pm and do fasted cardio every day, there’s a reason why 80% of people say “I’ve tried everything and I can’t lose weight” and it’s a simple case of lack of customisation.
When searching for your coach look for some basic ticks:
✅ Their results:
The proof will always be in the pudding in their clients transformations though no transformation is worth suffering and crash dieting so be sure to continue your research.
✅ Their package inclusions:
Are you buying into a tailored experience or are you left to fend for yourself for months with one plan?
✅ Their prescribed meals:
Have a look on their social media or chat to others that are on the plan. If you’re seeing oats, egg whites, nuts, greens with little balance and variety this should raise a red flag.
✅ Their online presence:
A lot of big influencer names use their platforms to promote large corporations and brands for fees and salaries failing to touch on educating their clients. A company or individual’s online presence in conjunction with their service will speak volumes on their prerogative and intentions when it comes to marketing and servicing nutrition. You will shortly see whether you’re part of a monetising empire or are truly part of a company’s burning passion.
✅ Their support:
It’s important that you’re dealing with a consistent team in being supported throughout your journey. Don’t underestimate the value of support whether it’s keeping on top of your diet, aiding in binge eating issues or motivation support from your coach could be your vehicle to the finish line. If you’re dealing with a new name behind a computer or on a hotline every time you have a question than this can impact the effectiveness of the support you’re getting and ultimately your trust in your coach.
All in all the health and fitness industry is a highly unethical one. Both males and females are being drawn into the abs and sculpted butts of fitness models who are in turn capitalising on the sale of generic meal plans to these individuals that are desperate to lose weight. Do your research and be aware of the science of nutrition, you’re not a bodybuilder and an old school body builder diet is highly likely to not be your answer.
Feel lost on finding a coach or getting your nutrition in order? Contact us today for customised nutrition dodging the bullets of bro science made for you and to your preferences - we’re leading the industry in results and changing the way the world views nutrition!
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team