Monday, October 11, 2010

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Halloween is just around the corner, and as I'm looking at Halloween costumes, I've been noticing a disturbing trend. No, it's not the plethora of outfits that being with the word "sexy" (although that's a huge trend too); it's the sizing of the costumes. I see a lot of "One Size Fits All." For reals?

How can one size fit everyone, when we're all different shapes and heights? It seems like it's the easy way out for costume manufacturers. Just like it's the easy way out for many trainers.

Yep, I said it. There's a trend of trainers using a "One Size Fits All" approach to dieting. What I mean by this is that many trainers have a "formula" that they follow for most of their clients. Some clients respond very well to the standardized approach, while others make little to no progress.

What does a One Size Fits All approach look like?

It takes many forms. It could be a percentage breakdown of macro nutrients, such as X% protein, Y% carbs, and Z% fat. While it may look like a very scientific approach, not every body responds to the same percentages of macros. Some people respond very well to carbs, while others (like me!) retain water and look all puffy from carbs. Some people need a lot of protein, while others don't require as much. Using a standardized macro percentage approach neglects individual body responses and reactions.

Another standardized approach is using a specific diet technique, such as carb cycling or the keto diet (zero carb). The theory behind carb cycling is that by rotating high, medium, and low carb days, you keep your metabolism from slowing down, as its prone to do while following a calorie deficit diet. The keto diet removes all carbs from the diet, and uses higher amounts of proteins and fats to stimulate fat loss.

Both of these diets can be effective for different people. The issue is that some trainers and coaches only use one of these approaches and are close-minded to any other approach. I know of several trainers who never put their clients on keto diets because they believe carbs are absolutely necessary, while other trainers only use keto diets for their clients.

Are all clients successful in reaching their goals? Nope. And it's not for lack of effort on their part. Quite often, it's simply a matter of the diet they followed.

Some trainers suggest only certain foods for their clients, without realizing that some foods may cause bloating or stomach irritation for some people. A good example of this is oatmeal. It's one of the most common diet foods, and many trainers include it in their clients' diets; however, many people are either gluten intolerant, or get bloated from oatmeal.

Bro Science

Not only are many diets standardized approaches, but last minute pre-contest "tricks" also fall into this category. The term "bro science" has been coined to describe techniques that competitors do the week of the show in order to improve by 1%.

These tricks include sodium loading/depleting, "carbing up," water loading/depleting, and use of diuretics.

When asked, I bet some trainers couldn't even explain WHY they have their clients do these things. Or if they can explain it, they give a textbook explanation about how the body is "supposed" to respond. But bodies don't always respond the way textbooks say they're "supposed" to.

If a competitor still needs to drop some fat and water the week of the show, none of these last minute "tricks" are going to help; in fact, they may actually make the competitor look worse than the week before! But since that's "the way it's always been done," trainers have their clients load up on sodium and water, and then deplete the week of the show.

Does this work? You tell me - how many times have you heard a competitor (or yourself!) say, "I looked better the week before or the day after the show." Why is that? More often than not, it's because one or more of their last minute tricks backfired, and they missed their peak. How's that 1% improvement feeling now? It's not ... cuz it never happened.


The key to succeeding in this sport is to follow a diet and training program that's customized to YOU. Follow these two points to determine if your diet is right for YOU.
  • Ask your trainer about WHY they're suggesting certain foods or a diet approach.
  • Be honest with yourself. How do you feel when you eat the foods on your diet? Do you feel good? Do you feel bloated? Are you eating them just because you like them, even though they upset your tummy? (oatmeal example)
Just like my Halloween costume, one size does NOT fit everyone. We're all different, we all respond differently, and as such, we should follow diets that work best for ourselves. When you find the diet or foods that work best for you, remember that there's no reason to change it, regardless of what people tell you that you "should" do. The only thing you "should" do is what's best for YOU.


  1. LOVE this post and the truth of it!!!!!

  2. YES! You have to figure out your body and how it responds to food, exercise, rest, and everything in between. There is no ridiculous, last minute tricks happening at my house, just a steady run to the finish.
    Great post!

  3. I know I agree with this "one size does not fit all!" Excellent post Kari :)

  4. Where did you study nutrition and contest prep/sports diets? I want to learn more!!! :) Great post. Please let me know: