The Path to Sustained Weight Loss
The M.E.D. Diet, its Many Advantages, and its One “Drawback”
Many people have tried the standard approach to dieting to lose weight.
They select some preformatted diet and attempt to implement it into their lives.
On paper, the approach is technically sound and should produce weight loss.
In reality, the dramatic change and restrictions are too disruptive to maintain.
Life gets in the way.
Soon, the well-intentioned dieter must confront the frustration and disappointment of another failed attempt at weight loss.
And what’s more, when they come to you as their fitness professional, they’re expecting you to provide the same thing – a preformatted diet plan – and they’re hoping that with your help they’ll be able to stick to it this time.
But the same context exists, their life.
Fortunately, there is a better approach (drum roll), introducing the M.E.D. diet.
M.E.D. stands for minimal effective dose and it’s a recurrent principle here at the Healthy Behavior Institute.
The idea behind it is to change the minimal amount necessary to produce the desired results. So instead of a client adopting a completely new diet, what if you could instead guide them to change just a few things and still produce weight loss?
This article will walk through the M.E.D. diet through its comparison to the Standard Dietary approach.
Maximal Tolerable Restriction
Minimal Effective Dose
As we mentioned above, the standard dietary approach turns to predetermined, massive, sweeping changes in an effort to produce dramatic results.
And although it may be technically sound, the vast majority of people can’t sustain massive sweeping changes long enough to see the promise of dramatic results.
What if instead of trying to change everything you can identify as unhealthy in a client’s nutrition, you just addressed one or two opportunities?
These changes, stacked on top of each other, will produce results.
It’s a paradigm shift for some people. They’ve been conditioned by the media and fitness industry to think that results require radical changes, but the truth is that finding a smart path to a sustainable caloric deficit is all that’s needed for weight loss.
And with the M.E.D. approach, you’ll be able to guide them on a customized path to their goals without having to turn their lives upside down or completely give up their favorite treats.
And since the minimal effective dose is unique to each person, the customization of the M.E.D. approach is a huge departure from the standard dietary approach with its predetermined framework. Yes, it requires more initial exploration to tailor the M.E.D. approach for each client, but setting your clients up for success by providing that level of customization and care will only retain and attract more clients. That’s a win for everyone.
All In or All Out vs. Consistency Over Intensity
The Standard Diet Approach usually involved adopting some particular preformatted diet with its set of rules and restrictions. The well-intentioned dieter is either successful in following them or not.
It ends up being a very binary framework that requires 100% adherence to feel successful.
100% is tough.
So, most people aren’t successful by those standards.
And if you’ve been in this field for any length of time, you know what happens.
A client who has been doing well for the better part of a week has a small falter on a Friday evening, consequently thinks of themselves as a failure, and torpedoes the entire weekend.
It’s frustrating for you and your client.
The Standard approach to dieting is all in or all out.
Being “all in” is really hard work, so most people default to the “all out” side.
That’s in stark contrast to the M.E.D. approach.
Now admittedly, even when you guide a client to change just one or two habits at a time, they’ll still stumble on their fitness journey.
For example, let’s say the strategy you were guiding your client to was to take their dog for an evening walk to replace their two nightly drinks.
When you check in with that client, you may find that they were able to do that four out of the last seven nights.
In the standard approach, that would be a failure because it’s all in or all out.
With the M.E.D. approach, those four dog walks are a thing to celebrate because it’s still progress toward their goal.
We don’t necessarily need a moratorium on all drinking (or any particular habit/behavior), we just want progress toward the healthier end of the continuum.
We’re looking for consistency over intensity. And over time, consistently moving toward the healthier end of the continuum will produce the results we’re looking for.
Inflexible vs. Inclusive
As we’ve repeatedly stated, one of our aims is to help our clients move toward the healthier end of the continuum - not by leaps and bounds, but by incremental, sustainable progress.
The Standard Dietary approach, on the other hand, is often about prohibition and deprivation. This usually requires a massive shift in a person’s habits to implement, jumping from one end of the continuum to the other. This is disruptive and often difficult to sustain.
This is often accomplished in the Standard Dietary Approach through a series of hard rules.
Each preformatted system has their own set and they’re usually rules on what not to eat.
Ice cream is bad.
Give up beer.
Stop eating processed carbohydrates.
Nachos are a definite “no-no.”
And so forth.
Those rules are inflexible.
With the M.E.D. approach, however, you can guide clients to still include the foods they enjoy.
A client could have ice cream and still see weight loss.
A client could have beer and still see weight loss.
Yes, even nachos and scones.
The knee-jerk response of most standard approaches is to completely eliminate a particular food.
Any coach who has done this knows that prohibiting a particular food or imposing dramatic restrictions leads immediately to the question:
"When can I have a cheat meal?"
With the M.E.D. approach, there is no prohibition. Any particular food can be integrated into a client’s weight loss journey. Cheat meals become obsolete since a client can include their favorites in their plan.
Finite vs. Sustainable
That leads us to the final contrast for this article.
Since the Standard Dietary approach is based on prohibition and deprivation, people are often asking how long do they need to eat like this? or “when can I go back to eating like before?”
Even at the onset of a standard dietary approach, the individual only sees it as a temporary implementation that they’ll just have to power their way through.
Of course, this leads to yo-yo dieting, that is, losing and gaining the same 5-10 lbs over and over again.
Since the M.E.D. approach minimizes restrictions, still includes favorite foods, and operates on a continuum of incremental progress, it is immeasurably easier to maintain.
And since clients will find it easier and more enjoyable to implement and sustain in their lifestyle, they’ll see the results that come with that consistency.
This was mentioned earlier, but it deserves a direct address.
The drawback of the M.E.D. approach is that it requires individualization.
It requires more than just a quick internet search.
It most often needs a skilled coach like yourself to guide a client toward their unique minimal effective dose to achieve their goals.
And that requires an understanding of nutrition and the science of behavior change.
But that little bit of up-front work from a dedicated coach like you will produce life-changing results for your clients. It’s well worth the effort.
To sum it up…The Summary:
- The Standard approach to dieting is often restrictive, intense, inflexible, and unsustainable.
- Embracing a minimal effective dose approach makes the fitness journey easier and more enjoyable.
- It takes a skilled coach to identify and implement the appropriate minimal effective dose strategies for different individuals.
One sentence takeaway:
Creating a customized, minimal effective dose approach to nutrition for each client will provide them with an effective and sustainable path to leaner, healthier, and happier.