74. The Iowa diet

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2020
My seasonal diet suggestion - The Iowa diet. 
 
In almost every aspect we modify our day to day activity and lifestyle in accordance with seasons.
 
At the highest level we’re talking those determined by our planet's positioning relative to the sun.
 
At the lowest level they are the kind created by us. Like fantasy football and swim trunks season.
 
Growing up in Iowa I’ve experienced distinct weather seasons 4 times a year for 30 trips around the sun. I like to think of age that way. More than ten of those passes have been spent doing exactly what I’m doing with you - trying to figure out this nutrition and exercise thing.
 
Since the seasons in Iowa are so distinct it’s easy to see why the average Iowan diets with the seasons.
 
Spring time brings warming temperatures and a little less clothing.
Diets shift from highly processed to a little more fresh and green. The scenery changes are mirrored in people's eating patterns. 
 
Activity levels slowly start ramping up as stuff starts moving from indoor to outdoor. The aforementioned less clothing leads the unprepared into gyms and onto new diet programs.
 
Summer heats up even more and moves almost all activities outside.
Social events, kids activities, and recreation have some people leaving first thing in the morning and not being back home or inside until the sun is going down.
 
Convenience dominates the nutrition scene as people are away from home and unable to control their meals as much. Fast, quick, and on the go options ramp up.

Subconsciously it’s normal to eat less during the summer because it’s warmer and you’re moving more. During this season veggie and fresh food consumption peaks.
 
Fall changes the colors again and brings warm comfort stuff back into our lives. As the temperature drops and outdoor activities wind down we start wearing more clothing and eating more food. Both are typical responses to this environment change.
 
Subconsciously you notice the change so your natural hunger levels increase to prepare for winter where in eras past food was more scarce. Think of this as the hibernation effect - you feel like doing less and consuming more. 
 
Coupled with what is arguably the most flavor rich season and you are primed to store body fat.
 
Oh yeah, there are 4 holidays all heavily rooted in food tradition in there too. Navigating them is tough. 
 
Winter sucks. Especially in Iowa.
 
Call me negative but there is a reason for our low cost of living and small population - our winters are less than desirable. Cold temperatures force us inside from sun up to sundown and the calories we burn from general movement is the lowest of all seasons. Days are short, nights are long and if you’re like 85% of Americans you deal with some type of mood depression somewhere along the line this season.

Food consumption leans toward processed nutritionally devoid options as fresh choices aren't as available. The worst part about this behemoth it that it's entirely common for people who lose their eating and exercise way to stay lost until the new year or the weather changes.
 
Seasons clearly influence our lives in significant ways. Especially our fitness and nutrition. 
 
Instead of fighting the seasons why not roll with them and plan your lifestyle accordingly. 
 
What if:
 
At the turn of the year and into spring you deficit diet to reach your leanest shape for summer.
 
During the summer you reach your ideal shape early and begin to eat at maintenance to sustain it. 
 
When fall starts you will have been maintaining for months so you are stable. If you increase food and lifted weights you could build more muscle and improve upon your body composition while taking advantage of the food, holidays, and weather. 
 
Here you could increase to higher maintenance ranges in an effort to build. Both fat and muscle will accumulate which coincides with more clothing and less display of your body. 
 
As winter turns up you reach the peak of your phase where you built muscle and gained a little fat.
 
Here you’ll maintain at a new high maintenance calorie level while you wait for winter to wear out. You'll be maintaining once again.
 
Once winter comes to an end you'll be ready to drop into a deficit to get rid of any fat you may have picked up over the fall and winter. You deficit diet until you reach a level you desire, likely right around spring break and choose to maintain there for the rest of the less clothed summer.
 
In Iowa, or any state where there are strong seasonal changes I can see this being the norm. One hard cut per year with most time spent enjoying life at maintenance. This would be ideal. 

Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and too many people spend most of their time dieting and only a little time maintaining.
 
This is the norm in an age where new diets and training plans marketed as the next best thing happen quarterly.
 
One thing is for sure, we diet too often.
 
In a recent analysis, experts found that the average adult American attempts between 3 and 4 diets per year. Ultimately, that number should be reduced to one. Then none.
 
I call this strategy the Iowa diet. 
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