In the latest edition of our Aesthetically Pleasing Series, we discuss the other fundamental component of reaching the road to aesthetics. That component is diet, which unfortunately for many, is often ignored. Many people think they can hit the gym, workout hard, and as long as they rush home to chug their beloved protein shake the rest of the chips will fall into play. How wrong they are! As you all know by now, there’s a difference between a goal of looking fit, and the goal of reaching aesthetics. The latter requires extra dedication, extra intensity, extra grind, and quite a bit of extra extras all around. This point could not be more true when it comes to diet, as what and how much you eat plays the most important role in how you look.
Reaching aesthetics requires extreme diet make overs, as an aesthetically pleasing body is not created by playing around and not keeping serious about what you eat. The good news is that you certainly don’t need to be eating every 3 hours, the tougher news is that you will have to be counting calories, and well. What’s vital is figuring out your maintenance, and tailoring your calories per day to within proper limits. As someone working their way down by cutting to eliminate fat loss, it’s imperative that your calories are within around 500 calories under your maintenance to make sure muscle loss is kept to an absolute minimum. If you are an ectomorph attempting to put on size without adding too much extra fat, the same rules apply with regards to eating over maintenance. The calorie counts, however, are simple math. What many people forget is that as you drop weight, or gain it, you have to constantly be adjusting those numbers. Many make the mistake of working hard to find out their calorie counts, only to stick with that number as they make changes. You’ll quickly stagnate this way and realize your errors, but that’s a few weeks wasted. With the grind that’s necessary to become aesthetically pleasing, there can be no wasted weeks.
Although dedicated individuals will be able to stick to their numbers, a major obstacle often faced by people is the motivation to eat the same or similar foods constantly. Yes, it’s possible to go ahead and indulge in some fast food as long as you hit your calorie and macro-nutrient goals for the day, but you have to remember what you’re aiming to accomplish. If you want to be aesthetically pleasing, you have to adapt a boot camp mentality. See the goal in front of you any time you crave something unnecessary, and bring yourself back to the task. Although IIFYM is great, the warning with it is that it often makes people lax and prone to cheat on their calories more often. There’s a greater willingness to go over your limit based on the food choices you make, and when you tell yourself you’ll eat less later to make up the difference, it often doesn’t happen. Not only, but eating simple carbohydrates (found in many of our favorite fast food places and the like) makes you hungrier faster (partly explains the notion that you’re more prone to fail to eat less later). Now, we can never speak in absolutes. If you can pull off IIFYM without any of these psychological limitations that come with it, more power to you. Just be aware that they exist.
Often times, what people do instead is allow themselves one cheat meal a week to satisfy their cravings, this works well. The limitation here is that when people refer to a “cheat meal” what they really mean is a binge-session. If you’re truly serious, a happy medium is to incorporate an IIFYM-esque method on a particular day of the week (or however often you feel you’ll need to satisfy your cravings). You’re not having a binge session, but enjoying the food you like while still attempting to meet some form of your daily macro ratios and overall calorie intake. It’s worth it, remember that.
Although this should be common knowledge, basic foods you should be focused on include: eggs, chicken, red meat, fish, brown rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes. Plenty of variety can be found in our Healthy Foods to Eat to Lose Weight article. There’s also a diet tips and tweaks for aesthetics version by the name of Lose Body Fat: Tips for Aesthetics. A great way to mix things up is also to switch up how you tackle the different macro-nutrients. The fad lately is to go low-carb, but that’s only one way of doing things. You could also carb-cycle (eat carbs only on days you workout, for example) or go on a high carb/low fat split (as long as you understand the importance of good fats and still get an appropriate amount in per day).
What’s most important for developing an aesthetically pleasing physique, of course, is that you actually apply these principles and apply them well. Good physiques and aesthetically pleasing physiques are not one in the same, so how hard you grind will determine how great your physique becomes. Diet is key, and if you don’t know, it makes up about 70-80% of your results. The gym is the stimulant, but your body is made in the kitchen. What’s all that muscle going to do from those great gym sessions if it’s covered by a layer of fat? Always stay motivated, always play around with your eating options to keep from going crazy, but know that at the end of the day, the upper echelon of aesthetically pleasing physiques belongs only to the few. The question is, are you one of them? Good luck.