My Diet Is Better Than Yours. Or is it?

You may – like a lot of America – have been enthralled watching the stunning metamorphosis of two of the contestants on My Diet is Better Than Yours, which crowned it’s winner this week.  I didn’t watch the series because I’ve been living in a TV-free zone since I was 20-something, but I do hang out on Twitter for a few minutes each evening so it was kinda hard to miss the building excitement as the weeks of competition went by.  It’s been fascinating (to me, anyway) to watch the spin and marketing swirl around the various diets that the expert trainers brought to the show.  When the final weigh-in came and the winner was announced along with the staggering weight and fat-loss numbers it is hard for anyone who has ever tried to lose weight and failed, or those of us who have ever stalled and not been able to move the fat-loss needle again, to not run out and buy into yet another new diet plan.  Because both the Superfood Swap Diet and The Wild Diet (#1 and #2 place respectively) clearly worked well for losing weight.  Really well.

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However, before you go shell out another round of dosh on another program in the hopes that this time this is it, that this is the one,  I thought I’d toss a little perspective at you.  This is not IN ANY WAY meant to take away from the contestants incredible achievements.  The changes they wrought in their bodies is amazing.  And inspiring!  But…can the rest of us expect to see the same results in the same time-frame?  No.  Because the contestants didn’t just start a new diet and exercise plan like the rest of us do.  They had help.  Serious help.  And again, this isn’t to minimize these fine folks success in any way – it’s rather to ground your expectations if you think you would automatically have the same success.  {Spoiler alert: you almost certainly won’t}

  • All of America was watching their every mouthful and every move.  I think most people would find that kind of accountability extremely motivating.  Who wants to slack off on national TV, or ‘fail’ so publicly?
  • It was time-boxed to 14 weeks.  Having just spent the last 5 months eating only a dozen different foods, I can say with certainty that you can do pretty much anything for 14 weeks – as long as you know it’s only for 14 weeks.
  • They had 1:1 intensive coaching and enormous round-the-clock support from their expert trainers.  They were told exactly what, when, where, why, and how, and had systems set up to keep them on track.  And I suspect they had daily check-ins.  Most of us will perform better if we know we have to report progress at the end of every day.
  • There was a $50,000 prize at stake.  Most of us would pull out every last stop if we knew there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I bet most of us could stick to pretty much any regime for 14 weeks with that incentive.
  • Their diet was a HUGE departure from their previous way of eating, so we would expect a HUGE result.  Most people find that the first 3 months of a healthy diet are when they lose the most weight, and then it starts to get more difficult.
  • They were significantly overweight when they started.  Anyone with less weight and fat to lose would likely not have such dramatic results, because it gets harder to lose the closer you get to your ideal weight.
  • It wasn’t just their diet that they changed.  There were other things too – sleep, water, exercise, supplements….and all these things worked synergistically together to get their results.

Would they have had the same success in the same time frame if they had just been given the plan and left to their own devices?  {Spoiler alert: they almost certainly wouldn’t}

Other factors that will affect your results vs. the contestants.

  • Your level of health isn’t the same.
  • Your genes aren’t the same.
  • Your age isn’t the same.
  • Your history isn’t the same.
  • Your starting weight isn’t the same.
  • Your fitness level isn’t the same.
  • Your living environment isn’t the same.
  • Your stress levels aren’t the same.
  • Your underlying health conditions aren’t the same.
  • Your prescription medications aren’t the same.
  • Your hormonal balance isn’t the same.
  • ….(I think you get my point)

Another thing I thought about was whether one diet was actually any better than the other.  On the Superfood Swap Diet, Jasmin, who focused on portion control and cardio, lost 53 pounds and 13% body fat and 26% body weight.  On The Wild Diet, Kurt, used a low-carb high-fat diet along with intermittent fasting and little exercise, shedding 87 pounds and 22% body fat and 24.7% body weight.

On the face of it the Superfood Swap Diet performed better than The Wild Diet in terms of % body weight lost, but if you look more closely at the results they show that The Wild Diet selectively burned body fat while protecting lean muscle. Jasmin unfortunately lost muscle with only 13% fat loss, while Kurt burned through 22% fat…and with only half the exercise.  When you look at it that way then The Wild Diet is the clear winner, since what we want is not just weight-loss but fat-loss.  The point is, the fact that the contestant on the Superfood Swap lost the most weight doesn’t mean it was the best diet.

Is Abel James awesome?  Yes.  Is The Wild Diet awesome?  Yes.  Does it work?  Yes.  Has Abel done a HUGE service to the world in sharing his *just eat real food* strategies on national TV?  YES.  But it’s nothing new.  That is not a criticism!  It’s an observation.  When I looked at what The Wild Diet is, and discovered that it is pretty much SANE with a different name and presented in a slightly different way.  Point being – if you are following a SANE lifestyle, The Wild Diet won’t teach you anything you don’t already know, or give you anything new or different that will suddenly make you lose fat faster, or un-stall you if you’re stuck.  All of my recipes here and in my cookbooks work brilliantly with both SANE and The Wild Diet.  If you eat my food you’ll be eating SANE and WILD.  And yes, there will be a whole bunch of new recipes coming at you just as soon as I get the full range of foods back into my life.  In the meantime, don’t be distracted by ‘new’ diets.  Chances are they are just another version of what we already have packed up in a hot new wrapping.

There.  I’ve just saved us all a bunch of $$$ and time.

 

 

 

Want delicious uber-healthy recipes? Check out my Cookbooks!
  • David Williams - Yep. Jonathan actually had Abel on his podcast many moons ago and I’ve subscribed to Abel’s podcast ever since. Sane/Wild are very similar as you say.

    How about your Keto diet though – you haven’t posted anything much on that yet? I’m pretty much on a Keto diet as I find there is a little too much protein in Sane and I just stall with weight loss.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Coming soon, David! Interested in how much protein you were eating when eating out-of-the-box SANE vs. KETO. Do tell!ReplyCancel

    • Donna - Yes, more on Keto, please!ReplyCancel

  • Marcia - I’ve only watched one other reality show but I watched this one to see how Abel James (wild diet) represented himself and what was the show like. Abel is how I found SANE and the podcast. He did a set of videos with Jonathan. While there were some parts like deciding who won baised on the scale that I didn’t like, I liked the overall message and that the contestants weren’t eliminated they could follow their plan until the end. Love the message of real nutritious food is what we need getting out there.
    Can’t wait for new recipes from you.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Marcia – you are so right! The overall message is all goodness – just eat real food!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I didn’t watch the show but have read The Wild Diet. It’s very similar to other good programs that encourage people to avoid processed foods among other things.
    Appropriate food intake is so individual, as you pointed out. I’m still working on mine.
    Btw Congrats on improving your health and for sharing the information.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Susan – yes – just eat real food! I’ve learned so much in the last 8 months I can’t not share.ReplyCancel

  • Francesca - Where are you? Are you OK? you have been very quiet of late.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Francesca! You are so sweet! I am fine. Blog post coming imminently – even this weekend if the rain keeps up :-)ReplyCancel

      • Francesca - great news, happy to hear that :)ReplyCancel

  • Raina Singh - We miss you, Carrie! <3ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Raina! I have no idea what it is you miss, but it’s lovely to feel loved – thank you!ReplyCancel

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