Joe Wicks On Why You Should Avoid Crash Diets

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When a new year rolls around, it’s tempting to go for broke and try to achieve all your health and fitness resolutions in record time with a brutal exercise regime and a highly restrictive diet.

However, according to Joe Wicks, all this approach does is put you on the fast track to giving up on those resolutions before the month is out.

“I’ve seen so many people go through the yo-yo diet circuit of low-calorie diets, ketogenic, Atkins or whatever it may be,” says Wicks. “I just think when you’re doing these kind of things you’re setting yourself up for failure because it’s not something you can sustain all year round.”

Fortunately, Wicks isn’t just going to leave you with advice on what you shouldn’t do. Here’s what you should try to make your diet healthier this January – with a little help from recipe box service Gousto, in which Wicks is an investor.

What are the keys to making a long-term change to your diet?

It’s about a balanced approach to nutrition. I’m not a massive fan of people obsessively counting calories. People should focus on cooking at home and portion control, alongside general exercise. That’s what the general population really need, I think.

How will cooking at home help to improve your diet?

When you start cooking at home you’re reducing the chances of having takeaways, fast food, and meal deals on the go. By doing that you’re more in control of what you’re eating and you can get proper nutritious food in you. Keep it simple, and go back to your bologneses, vegetable chillis, stir-fries and curries – that’s way more sustainable. The food is going to taste great because you’ve made it yourself, and you can store a bit of it in the fridge or the freezer. Little things like this are going to set you up for a successful week.

If you don’t do that you’ve got to rely on food on the go and that’s when you get in trouble. That’s when you start to gain lots of body fat and feel really run down.

Do you have any tips for judging portion sizes?

With my 90-day plan there are portion sizes and you weigh everything out, but after the 90 days I don’t want people to be weighing their food. I think you just learn about portion control through recipe books and if you’re doing a plan. Essentially it’s about eating intuitively – if you feel like you’re eating massive portions and you’re really sluggish and tired, then you’re probably eating too much. It’s a case of gradually reducing things. You might have a really low-calorie breakfast but then a really nutrient-dense lunch, and it has to be a weekly target rather than a daily target, or it becomes a bit restrictive.

What’s something people can try in January to be healthier?

If you go down the canned food aisle you’ve got lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans – so many things that you might not necessarily be eating, but if your throw them in a curry with some coconut milk and some curry powder they taste incredible and are going to make your diet healthier.

What are the benefits of trying a recipe box service?

People don’t have the confidence to try things, they get stuck in the same five recipes on repeat. That’s why I like Gousto. I do four meals a week and it makes me try new things, new ingredients, and keeps things fresh every week as opposed to relying on the same food. I never cooked risottos, orzo pasta or Filipino curries – I used to just do Indian curry and that’s it. So it’s definitely got me using new flavours, and herbs and spices I wouldn’t have used otherwise.

Most importantly it’s so convenient. The days of walking around supermarkets scratching my head wondering what to cook have gone.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.