“Hybrid Dieting” – Cherry Picking the Best Diet Strategies

I don’t have a label for the type of diet I like to follow.

I eat Paleo meals occasionally, use Intermittent Fasting about once per week, eat Gluten Free at times, etc. If I had to come up for a term for it, I’d call it “Hybrid Dieting”. It is a loose way of eating, where I take principles from several solid diets…when it makes sense.

I’ll outline some solid principles in this post for those who want to lose weight without necessarily following a rigid diet year-round.

Sauce Pan
The” Calories In/Calories Out” Strategy

I shouldn’t even call this a strategy. The idea of burning more calories than you take in, should be the #1 goal when it comes to losing body fat. Sounds obvious, right? You would think so…but I can almost guarantee you that there will be several people commenting who will dispute this strategy.

There are several groups who believe that it doesn’t matter how many calories you eat…as long as you keep your insulin levels stable. These are typically the low carb groups that go by many different names.

Note: There are several low carb groups who do encourage creating a deficit as well as eating low carb.

How I implement this strategy: I like to focus on a weekly calorie deficit. I figure out how many calories I can eat per week and come in at that number. I’ll eat somewhat strictly Sunday-Thursday…which gives me the ability to eat loosely on Friday night and all day Saturday.

The “Low Carb” Strategy

I believe the low carb strategy works extremely well in conjunction with creating a calorie deficit (the strategy above). So when people eat low carb (Paleo, Primal, Atkins, Slow Carb, etc)…in a calorie deficit…they will lose body fat rapidly.

The main strength of eating low carb is that it keeps your insulin levels stable. Your body won’t burn fat when insulin levels are high. Low carb dieting keeps your body in fat burning mode by preventing insulin spikes.

How I implement this strategy: I love carbs, so I would be bummed if I had to eat low carb all the time. What I like to do is eat zero to low carbs throughout the day. This keeps my energy levels stable when I’m working. I like to eat most of my carbs at dinner, since this is the time I like to slow down and relax. So I’m burning fat all day…and temporarily halting the fat burning process at night.

A more effective strategy: My strategy isn’t “ideal” from a fat loss perspective, but I make it work because I wanted to structure my day like that. A better approach is to eat the majority of your carbs in the meal that follows your workout…and eat lower carb for all of your other meals. I train in the morning and I like my biggest meal to be dinner, so this won’t work for me. A better approach from a fat loss perspective would be to train after work, right before dinner (something I’m unwilling to do).

The “Intermittent Fasting” Strategy

There are several amazing benefits of intermittent fasting. Brad Pilon made a really compelling video showing how fasting has similar effects on the body as exercise: Intermittent Fasting Has Similar Effects on the Body as Intense Exercise.

The nice thing about intermittent fasting is that it accomplishes both of the goals of the two methods above simultaneously. It helps create a calorie deficit and keeps insulin levels stable.

How I implement this strategy: I simply like to use intermittent fasting as a way to get my calories down a bit throughout the week. I don’t do it every week anymore, but I’ll fast until dinner on Mondays and the occasional Wednesday or Thursday. This just gives me the ability to eat loosely on Fri, Sat, and Sun…without gaining a bunch of weight.

Some Different Takes on Intermittent Fasting:

The “Small Meals Every Few Hours” Strategy

This strategy does not work for me, because I like to feast…but I think this is a strategy that can work for well for some people.

I put up a poll on my Facebook Page seeing if men and women preferred to eat small meals more frequently or larger meals less frequently. A large portion of men liked large, less frequent meals…and women were about 50/50.

Some people are wired to eat every few hours.

How to implement this strategy: As long as the portions are small this works well. You can create a calorie deficit and have stable insulin levels…which leads to weight loss. I’ve seen just as many people get lean eating this way as I have seen using intermittent fasting to get lean.

Some suggest women do better following this strategy: My personal experience has been that a good portion of women do best when they eat a little more frequently than men. I never knew the reason for this, until recently. Mark Sisson does a great job of explaining the concept in this post: Women and Intermittent Fasting.

The “Aggressive Low Calorie” Strategy

There are a many variations of this. Basically we are talking about a super-low calorie aggressive short-term 2-3 week diet…and possibly up to 8 weeks. Here is an outline of one I put up on my Facebook Page: Rapid Fat Loss Diet Plan – My 2 Shakes and Chicken Salad Diet. These types of diets are “vacation prep” type of diets.

How to implement this strategy: I don’t use this type of dieting anymore, because my goal is to be in “maintenance mode” for life…meaning that I never want to get out of shape again. Also, I’m not concerned with dipping down to 6% body fat anymore. I’m content with sticking around the 8-12% range these days. For those people who do like to get in crazy shape for an event, this type of diet does the trick. Just use it 1-2 times per year 2-8 weeks out from an event. Note: Some people should never attempt this as it can make some them especially irritable.

The “Cheat Day” Strategy

The idea behind the cheat day is to eat higher calories at least once per week to boost leptin levels and keep the metabolism high. Some people recommend eating as much as you want, one day per week, and others recommend a more moderate approach.

How I implement this strategy: I like the more moderate approach and simply like to up the calorie intake by eating somewhat loosely on the weekends. It seems to do the trick of keeping the leptin levels from crashing. More importantly, it allows me to live life, have fun, socialize, etc. Here is a good article which explains the positives and negatives of cheat days: Cheat Days Explained.

My Hybrid Diet Summary:

Here’s a quick bulletpoints summary of my Hybrid Diet.

  • A weekly calorie deficit.
  • Strong deficit Mon-Thursday.
  • Cheating a bit Fri, Sat, and sometimes Sun.
  • Low’ish carbs and calories during the day.
  • Medium to high carbs and biggest meal at night.
  • Intermittent fasting 1-2 times per week (part of the year).

Note: I also do my cardio routine on the days I eat strictly.

Setting Up Your Own Hybrid Diet

Remember, the most important principle is eating in a way that creates a calorie deficit. If you can do that in a way that minimizes insulin spikes, it will make your diet that much more effective.

It really is about that simple…the trick is to do it in a way that is easy for you and doesn’t feel like torture.

100 thoughts on ““Hybrid Dieting” – Cherry Picking the Best Diet Strategies”

  1. Thanks Rusty.
    I had been stuck on 30 kilos in each hand for dumbbell bench press and in the space of about 7 or 8 weeks I’m up to 37 kilos in each hand.
    You make it easy to achieve targets, thanks

  2. You’re right on track Rusty. Overall you need a calorie deficit but there can be numerous ways to reach that deficit. Myself I hydrate myself constantly and have increased my intake of fruit and vegetables. Over time you develop a taste for bananas, apples and broccoli and nuts. My cheat is a loaded baked potato.

  3. Peruse the internet and you will find someone having success with just about everything, even the twinkie diet! In the end it really matters what works for you not someone else. If you found something that works for your goals, stick with it till it doesn’t despite what others may say. Don’t be afraid to experiment and create a hybrid as Rusty thoroughly discussed. Also, don’t assume something won’t work till you try it on yourself. Look at intermittent fasting, it polarizes people. Many have had success but some won’t even try it because in their mind it can’t work. That said, it is important to “buy-in” to the method you’re using for long term success. Rusty found what works for him both physically and mentally. If your stuck, taking action and experimenting is your best course of action. Create your own hybrid. Analyzing something in your head isn’t going to get you to your goal. Think what we would all look like if it did.

  4. thanks for sharing! I believe in the efficacy of low carb diets and I think its a really good and healthy strategy for all the people who wants to get in shape. I think it is very important to have balance in everything, so if in one day you consume more calorie

  5. i recently was cured of ulcerative colitis, but in the meantime my colon wall was basically destroyed. to speed up the recovery process, i have had to adopt the diet found on http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/. It is called the “Specific Carbonhydrate Diet” and I am surprised I didnt see it mentioned here because some of its principles could be of use in these forums. also: the principles are based in scientific research.

    What is the SCD? In a nutshell, it eliminates all refined sugars from the diet. BUT this also includes grains, starches, as well as lactose, since these are defined as “complex sugars”, with the scienfic term being “disaccharides” for double-chained sugars and “polysaccharides” for starch. For suffers of IBD like myself, the colon struggles to process anything more than “simple sugars”.

    This diet is extremely hard to follow. The book is basically very extreme in its approach, and without a medical reason the diet isnt worth following. I dont follow it exactly 100% myself since I can tolerate small amounts of grain. But everything else I dont eat. But I need the recipes from the book or else I would go insane. 🙂

    The amazing side effect? My “normal weight” is 165 pounds and I am 6 foot 1 inch. When I started this diet, I automatically went to 155 pounds without doing any additional exercise except walking, or any fasting or skipping meals. And I “get ripped” as well, without additional intense cardio. Nothing i have ever tried worked before this diet; not fasting, “elimination diets”, etc. so I guess I have found something that works for me. But its weird being at a low weight and “feeling ok” still, with no muscle mass loss. The acne on my back also dissapeared! Give it a try and see how you feel.

  6. Great post, thanks for sharing! I believe in the efficacy of low carb diets and I think its a really good and healthy strategy for all the people who wants to get in shape.
    make experiment from various diets and find what works best for body. For good helth, heart should be strong and healthy.

  7. There’s no shoes which fit everyone. There are exercises which may work for you but won’t work for others. Personally, I think everyone should understand his needs, his enthusiasm for losing weight first and then choose a sport he’s truly interested in. You may look at other people’s working out plan for reference, but do not follow exactly what they do!

  8. I agree with this 100% Rusty.

    TOO many guys these days are caught up in the idea of solely focusing on one diet.

    You’ve got to change it up a bit.

  9. Hi,

    Great post, thanks for sharing! I believe in the efficacy of low carb diets and I think its a really good and healthy strategy for all the people who wants to get in shape. I think it is very important to have balance in everything, so if in one day you consume more calorie, I think will be good to do a bit more exercise than usual. And the most important is Never Give Up!


  10. Great post!

    I like the concept of “Hybrid Dieting” and I try to use the similar approach myself.

    I like to experiment from various diets and find what works best for my body. Once I find sometime that shows progress, I begin to incorporate this into my regular nutritional plan.

    As everybody’s body is different, I find that generic diets will not and cannot help everyone. Finding what works for you is the best way!

  11. Hey whats up Rusty, havent been here in awhile, for a couple of years I studied this website like you were going to grade me on it or something. The info works man. My body now looks exactly like how i’ve always wanted it to, thank you so much Rusty!

    I’ve always enjoyed your “cheesy” movie clips and monoluges like that Roadhouse one, “Be nice.” lol. Your cool man. I wish you the best in everything you do, peace.

  12. “This strategy does not work for me, because I like to feast” I hear ya on this one. Sound approach. It’s the big picture / vision approach. Plan caloric intake/calories burned from a quasi bird’s eye level being the entire week. Makes it more palatable.

    Another tip: Burn more calories. Go for a walk/run an extra time or two a week. It’s not that hard. But you gotta know your numbers such as calories burned and consumed. Once you know these, it’s easy to adjust as necessary week-to-week.

  13. That is interesting that you mentioned eating loosely on Saturday. Normally my cheat day is on Saturdays too. I don’t go crazy but I do cheat some.

    I am currently following your 2 shakes and a chicken salad diet. With a low calorie nut and fruit bar in the afternoon. It can make you irritable, but I don’t care as long as I look good for the beach.

    I am currently taking a stab at the blood type diet. Do you know anything about it Rusty?

  14. Love your article. I am just learning about paleo eating and watching carbs and insulin is very important for us borderline diabetics. Thanks for the info.

  15. Rusty,

    I have emailed you a few weeks ago about a link to my Abs 1.0 Blueprint that isn’t working anymore. It says “Error loading link, then takes me back to the page that asks me to like it on FB (which I did some time ago) Hope we can get this resolved soon, would like to get started on it again soon! Thanks

  16. Great post Rusty. There are so many options out there and the key is to just find the best one for your lifestyle. I have gotten results with the 6 small meals a day but eventually it turned into 6 medium meals and so on. I find that intermittent fasting is the best for me cause I can do it whenever I need to and I’ve also tried the 2 meals a day diet. I find that the best time to not eat for me is the morning. Once I start with a meal then I want more.

  17. I believe you can hit a plateau even using intermittent fasting. I have done great on IF for 5 weeks at 5’11 I went from 194 to 182, then it stopped for 11 days. Even threw in some 24 hour fasts. It’s as if my body acclimated to the IF. So, I’m taking a 3 day break. Eating way more and then I’ll get back into the fasting again. See if that works.

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