Lasting Losses: The Body for Life Diet

Dr. Christopher McGowan
March 29, 2022

There has been an explosion of new diet plans being publicized in recent years, but weight loss is nothing new. Even if you are new to the world of losing weight, some of the more effective and popular advice might have been around for decades. 

Is Body for Life Still Around?

The short answer is, “Yes!” Though fad diets come and go, the principles underlying the Body for Life diet (BFL) have kept it on the table as a viable dietary option. Many other diets and meal plans follow the basic premise of lean proteins and healthy carbs paired with increasing your levels of physical exercise. 

There are plenty of diets out there that might not keep your dietitian happy, but the Body for Life book is generally founded on good nutrition and exercise science. This adherence to simple principles and easy-to-follow directions has allowed the BFL program to work for a huge number of people regardless of particular dietary or lifestyle restrictions. 

What do You Eat on Body for Life?

What you will eat on the Body for Life program is important, but how often you eat is of equal concern. One of the crucial components of the plan is eating several small meals a day. 

Some diet plans require you to count every calorie and plan very carefully to prevent accidentally eating the wrong food or putting down too many calories. BFL, on the other hand, aims more for portion size and a few other general guidelines to give you as much leeway as possible in planning your low-calorie servings while still allowing your body to enter a caloric deficit for fat loss. 

While you can eat nearly anything on the BFL diet, it is still in your best interest to choose snacks and meals that feature healthy alternatives to many staple dishes in the American diet. Some of the changes on a diet like this are subtle. Exchanging a traditional baked potato for  sweet potatoes can provide your body with more complex carbs that can help manage energy levels over longer aerobic workouts, as well as help to keep your blood sugar in check.

The recommended food list for Body for Life is loose, but it contains some of the standards you would expect to see in any diet advocating for increased exercise and healthier foods on your plate. A few of the mainstays of this diet include:

  • cottage cheese
  • egg whites
  • tuna
  • berries and yogurt
  • lean meats
  • chicken breasts
  • high protein nutrition bars
  • salads
  • whole grains
  • veggies
  • brown rice

With the possibility for so many different foods on your plate, it could be easy to feel overwhelmed with all the options. Thankfully a little careful planning will help you chart out a balanced diet that will help keep your body fueled with healthy macronutrients while avoiding the processed foods and sugars that typically lead to increased weight gain. 

Supplements and the Body for Life Program

One of the critiques of the Body for Life diet is its focus on supplements. Bill Phillips was at one time the owner of EAS supplements, which has led some to conclude that the diet’s advice on myoplex and other supplements creates a conflict of interest. Phillips sold EAS subsequent to Body for Life becoming popular, and proponents of the diet suggest that the continual preparation and planning of several meals a day eventually becomes too time consuming for many people, thus making vitamin-packed protein shakes or supplements nearly a necessity. 

It is possible to follow the general rules of Body for Life without taking supplements or protein powders, but the cost and time needed to prepare food and still find time to stick with the required exercise program may be more than some people have available. Even small changes to your schedule can be hard to keep up with over time, and part of the power of BFL lies in its consistency. Even if you find yourself struggling to keep up with the new additions to your schedule, it pays to work through the initial challenges to realize the benefits of a regular workout routine. 

Exercise and the Body for Life

Exercise is part of nearly every weight loss program, and BFL is no exception. Pairing a mix of cardio workouts with consistent weight training and even high-intensity (HIIT) workouts has been proven to build muscle and raise your base metabolic efficiency. BFL leans on this by alternating strength training and cardio days to help keep you in a daily caloric deficit while still building the lean muscle mass you need to speed up your metabolism.

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to benefit from strength training. Many studies have shown that lower body workouts, especially those that build strength and lean muscle mass, can help you burn body fat faster over time. Cardio is important, but building some strength workouts into your exercise plan will help you avoid some of the injuries that can come from running or cycling too much.

Does Body for Life Have a Cheat Day?

One of the most common questions on any diet plan is the question of the cheat day. Some programs like the keto diet rely on a particular physiological reaction in your body, and chemistry doesn’t take a day off. Recovery is an essential part of any workout program, and as a result, the Body for Life diet has a rest day built into its workout and diet program.

This rest day is an important component of Body for Life, as it gives people a bit of relief from the structure and schedule of the remaining days of the week. Some people worry that taking a day off will allow them to accidentally take in more calories or not be active enough, thus ruining all their hard work from the preceding six days. Thankfully, research has shown that in most cases, the number of calories your body can process in one day would not be enough to offset an entire week of good eating. What is more, giving your body a chance to rest will allow you to work harder during your scheduled workouts, which will be more beneficial in the long run. 

Dieting and Weight Loss

No matter what diet you pick, losing weight and keeping it off takes more than just lining up a meal plan. This is especially true if you have been struggling with obesity or have been significantly overweight for a number of years. Carrying a lot of body fat can hamper your ability to exercise, which could make you more prone to injuries at the beginning of a new workout routine. At the very least, you may need to start slower than you would like. 

Regardless of the diet you pick, building habits that you can maintain over long periods of time is going to be the key to gaining the freedom you want from excess body fat. A steady commitment to changing your habits for good is going to be necessary to a sustainable weight loss journey that allows you to prevent lost weight from coming back. 

Even in the case of gastric bypass, commitment to new habits is key. Some people may think that bariatric surgery is a silver bullet for weight loss, but this is not the case. Many people who undergo bariatric surgery end up gaining back nearly all the body weight they initially lose, possibly needing a bariatric revision to put them back on the path to weight loss.

For others, diets alone do not provide the ultimate solution. Procedures such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty or gastric balloons end up being part of the solution. To find out more about these and other options available for medically assisted weight loss, request an appointment at True You Weight Loss today.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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