Bodybuilding great Arnold Schwarzenegger understands the value of nutrition and the obstacles that come with losing weight. In a recent Arnold’s Pump Club Newsletter, Schwarzenegger opened up on the challenges of calorie-restricting diets and why a less strict option might result in better progress.
With the new year upon us, just about everyone has set their sights on a new fitness goal, whether it’s incorporating more protein into the diet, or just sticking to a steady and stable meal plan, we all are in pursuit of looking and feeling our best in 2024.
Enter Arnold Schwarzenegger — who continues to offer invaluable nutrition and workout advice on a variety of platforms. This time, he took to his newsletter to shed some light on a few misunderstandings surrounding diets. While calorie restriction is a go-to for weight loss, Schwarzenegger explains why that route might not always produce the desired results.
“The Rules Are Hard To Follow” Arnold Schwarzenegger Critical of Calorie-Restricting Diets, Promotes Less Strict Plans
Schwarzenegger argued that people fall off diets due to their strictness and believes weight loss is still achievable with ‘a little more freedom.’
“When you start a diet, you’re told you must follow a strict set of rules to see results. At some point, the rules are hard to follow, you burn out, eat dessert, and everything unravels. But what if you could still lose weight with a little more freedom?
Research suggests that less strict diet plans are just as effective as plans requiring you to cut calories daily,” Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed.
Using a study to bolster his claim, Schwarzenegger said those who followed a relaxed eating diet versus a calorie-restricted diet saw the same weight loss progress.
“Scientists compared what happens if you follow a reduced calorie diet every week or a plan where you stick to a plan for two weeks and then take a week with more relaxed eating.
Despite the break, the group with more freedom lost just as much weight and body fat and saw similar changes to their metabolic rate as the group that cut calories every day.”
In a separate study, Schwarzenegger revealed that people who took two-week diet breaks lost about ten more pounds than those who didn’t, though they followed a 30-week plan instead of a 16-week routine.
“This isn’t the first time diet breaks have proven effective. In a longer study, people who took two-week diet breaks every two weeks lost about ten more pounds, but that could be because the diet break group followed a plan for 30 weeks (compared to 16 weeks of the people following the no-break plan).
Above all else, if a diet is sustainable, Schwarzenegger underlined that people will follow it.
“And that might be the real benefit. Plans with more freedom help you stay consistent for longer without burnout and cravings. It’s not that diets don’t “work” — it’s that they don’t work in the long run for many people.
If a diet is unsustainable, stressful, and removes the joy of food, you won’t follow it for long. You even see it in the studies; people with stricter plans are likelier to drop out. Whereas taking intermittent breaks — or finding a plan with much more flexibility — might give you a better chance at sustainable success.”
Over the past five years, Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a notable interest in preserving his health. In addition to stopping heavy lifting, Schwarzenegger has followed a 70% plant-based diet, which he credits for lowering his cholesterol.
Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the only prominent voice in fitness advocating for more sustainable diet plans. Nutritionist Stan Efferding, a former bodybuilding/powerlifting standout, emphasizes that the best diets are always the ones that people will follow, stressing an individualistic approach to losing unwanted body weight.
Even though weight loss can be a daunting challenge, Arnold Schwarzenegger stands by any diet that offers flexibility and most importantly, a better chance at sustainable success.