Hey Angels and Alphas,
Have you ever wished that you could make dieting simple, straightforward, and sustainable?
With no obsessing over numbers, no deprivation, and no ban-list full of your favorite foods?
Can you imagine a diet that gets you the results you want, but doesn’t require any willpower to follow? As a matter of fact, it’s so easy to follow, that you can simply make a few changes in your current diet and dieting philosophy and you’ll be reaping all its benefits!
Lucky for you (and everyone else), it does exist!
Today, we’re going to be talking about the Default Diet – a concept created by fitness coach and author Eric Helms. The Default Diet is a dieting approach that he uses with himself and his trainee bodybuilders to help them not only achieve the results they’re looking for but also build a good relationship with food on a psychological level.
If you’re someone who feels overwhelmed and lacking control of their diet, this article will help you regain that control and get the structure you need at no expense to your motivation and willpower.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
What is the default diet, and how does it work?
Eric Helms calls this methodology the default diet because it’s the basic setup of how you eat. For the competitors out there, you can think of it as a low-calorie day during contest prep.
It’s basically the structural backbone of your diet, a foundation that you set and then work on top of.
This approach is profoundly effective for both fitness competitors and dieting newbies. It’s essentially tailored around creating a specific “habit” diet that you follow effortlessly. The goal is to not only get the macronutrients you need to reach your goal, but as we mentioned above, to facilitate a healthy relationship with dieting.
Once you create this foundational diet, you can easily modify the rest in other to fir a different phase or goal.
For example, if you’re in the off-season, there is a big chance you’re stacking up on food and gaining weight rather quickly. And if you’re in a phase of contest prep, you’re focused on continuously decreasing the amount of calories you intake.
This is where we make a distinction between qualitative and quantitative variables. Instead of following a quantitative approach and prioritizing numbers, you instead head on the path to creating qualitative results – establishing a habitual diet that you follow without any effort.
This means that, once you establish that default diet, your diet won’t look drastically different in two different phases like contest prep and the off-season.
For the everyday lifter, this means creating a basic habitual diet that you then *add* things on top of. As the saying goes, everyone has a diet, and whether you realize it or not, you have habits and cues controlling all your dietary decisions.
For someone, the basic structure of their diet might mean eating four times a day and having a lean protein source and a fruit/vegetable with every meal. Essentially, this means that’s the part of their diet that’s habitual – it takes no extra effort or willpower to follow.
That being said, let’s talk more about the pros of this dieting approach and how it can help you achieve the results you’re looking for.
The Default Diet is all about flexibility.
Once you create this structural backbone of a diet, you can then mix and match different approaches based on the metrics you’re looking to achieve right now.
Therefore, the heart of your diet remains the same, and you have absolute freedom to add things on top.
A big mistake people make in dieting is thinking they will get results if they just eat this one specific thing at this one specific time of day. In reality, if your diet has no flexibility, it also has no sustainability.
You need to be able to adjust your approach and make changes in what you eat while still getting the macro and micronutrients you need to gain results. This is where the strength of the default diet comes in – once you follow it as an outlined philosophy, the specific foods you eat don’t matter as much.
As long as you know you have to get (a) a lean protein source and (b) a fruit/vegetable with every meal, the particular food choices you make are irrelevant. Basically, as long as you get your basic foundation in, you have endless flexibility when it comes to the rest.
The Default Diet is sustainable!
If you’ve been trying to change your diet habits (or adopt new ones), you know it can be a difficult and challenging task to go against your nature. For that reason, the default diet takes a unique approach to your diet’s sustainability.
For example, if you’re someone who wants to lose weight, you shouldn’t be trying to abolish all your current food habits. You can’t just ditch all the food you like and become “disciplined” enough to eat whatever you have to. If someone lives a sedentary lifestyle and stares at a screen all day, you can’t just tell them to start training.
But what you *can* do is guide them toward the right path through a mindset of abundance.
Instead of leaving foods behind, you might want to make it a habit to learn about new foods. You might want to make it a habit to eat a fruit/vegetable every time you sit down for a meal because fruits and veggies keep us satiated and have a low energy density. Ironically, studies show us that adding new foods to your diet is more beneficial than removing foods when it comes to losing weight.
When you approach dieting from this frame of abundance, creating habits becomes easier, eating healthy becomes effortless, and following a diet becomes something you don’t have to think about.
Something as small as switching chips with popcorn will have an incredible effect on the amount of calories you consume, even though it’s still considered “junk food.” That’s because popcorn takes a while to eat and generally has a lower calorie density than chips. (This means satiety signals come more quickly and you end up eating way less.)
This brings us to our final point…
The Default Diet is great for anyone!
Some of the hardest phases of competitive bodybuilding are the transition periods between the contest prep and the off season. Bodybuilders know that, if their habits are drastically different in these two periods of time, this results in poor performance at the show followed by overindulging and a bad relationship with food after the show.