How Do I Know If My Diet Is Bad?

how do i know if my diet is bad


The dreaded D word.

The thing we do when we feel a little heavy, a little bloated and a little overweight.

I mean, that’s how it is isn’t it?

But before we embark on that journey, how do we know for sure that the diet we’re on is bad… Or good? What a waste of time if we spend thousands of dollars on a diet program and then be unsuccessful.

What a waste of time if we follow a plan rigidly and yet get mediocre results.

What a waste.

A recent article in The Huffington Post also tells us that mind-blowing before and after pictures you see in the ‘Real Transformation’ part of a compelling fitness program sales page can be so skewed that some times we probably won’t know the results until we try it.

So how do we know if our diet is bad?

Simple. Try it.

The Art of Trying

I’m a big fan of trying new things, going on random, unplanned adventures and just simply getting out of my comfort zone.

Like any other goals we have in life, the only way we can see results is to try it out.

It doesn’t matter what your best friend says, or how many before and after pictures you see and success stories you read about, your results will 100% be different from those who are on the same plan.

We’re all unique individuals and while it’s very tempting to just jump on a Cabbage Soup Diet because you’ve seen some great results, do not be upset when you don’t. At least you tried and that is one lesson worth taking. At least now you know it’s not even worth your time.

Give yourself a chance to start something and then give yourself time to see results. Don’t just quit after two weeks because it takes time, and lots of willpower to get things in the right order, and thus, see results.

Most Effective Diets Are Similar

Now that we’ve gotten that aside, here’s something I want you to know too: most effective diets are very alike.

But, the unhealthy ones can be very unhealthy in their own ways.

I’ll give you a personal example.

When I was trying to lose weight the first time round, I went on a Meal Replacement Shake (MRS) Diet. It’s quite a huge thing at that point in time, so without much thinking, and looking at the successes of one of my good friend, I went on to try it.

The deal was simple. I had to replace breakfast and lunch with the shake and have a light dinner at night. I also had to drink a lot of water. At least for the first week.

Did it work? Of course it did. I lost 3kg in a week.

Did it last? I gained 5kg within a month and I was diagnosed as being clinically obese right after that.

So how can a diet be bad?

A detox diet can strip you off the minimal amount of nutrition you should be giving your body. Like protein, unprocessed carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals.

A soup, tea or meal replacement diet, apart from it being too restrictive can take the fun out of eating. Yes, eating should be fun. You will lose weight, but for most of it, it’s probably just water weight.

A typical Western diet, or even an Asian diet can lead to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart diseases and high blood pressure, leading to drug dependency in the long run.

The only similarity between all these unhealthy diets? They all lead to poorer health, and that’s not something you want.

So How Do I Know If My Diet Is Bad?

While trying out the plan is one of the surest way to see if it works for you, here are 6 signs you can tell a good diet from a bad one, and ultimately know if it will work out or not.

1. It does not increase your knowledge and awareness on nutrition.

Good diet plans do not simply hand you over a 12-week program for you to follow blindly.

Good diet plans teaches you why you’re doing what you’re doing, gives a reason to why you should be eating more unprocessed foods and less of the sugar laden junks and at the very least help you become aware of what you’re doing.

If you find yourself embarking on a journey where the plan is simply click on this download button and get results, then trust me, you’re probably better off not going on a diet at all.

I know it sounds harsh but when I first started to lose 20 kilos in eight months (after the really unhealthy MRP diet), I simply followed a 1200-calorie diet without any reasoning as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. The result? I struggled after the weight loss.

Took me a personal training and nutrition certificate, and two whole years to get it right. Is the struggle worth it? I don’t think so.

Find a plan that teaches and educate you. You’ll thank me later.

2. It’s not flexible enough so you struggle when… Life happens.

Here’s the thing: rigid plans do not work. A diet is too rigid if it’s perfect on your normal days, but when life happens, you struggle to keep up with it.

Like when you’re travelling. When you woke up late one morning and forgot to bring your packed lunch. When your kids are throwing tantrums and your spouse is being annoying and you’re simply having a bad day.

If you see yourself in those situations and feel like whatever plan you’re on right now is going to be messed up, then chances are, it won’t work.

A good diet plan will give you room to go at your own pace, instead of just throwing you deep into the waters. We all know that incorporating good habits brings awesome results and in order for us to change our habits, it’s good to do it one at a time. Trying to change too many things can be exhausting and you will give up, slowing down results and progress.

3. It replaces or exclude real proper food.

Ever wondered why we’re always tired, sluggish and just feel downright terrible?

Maybe because you didn’t have enough sleep.

Or you didn’t drink enough water.

But water and sleep are usually not the only reasons. We’re lacking the nutrients in our body that is important for our health and wellbeing.

The processing of foods not only strips way naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, the kind of stuffs that makes you feel good inside and out, but the regular consumption of processed foods has the power to effect our day to day emotions.

If your diet plan incorporates lots of fresh whole foods like veggies and fruits and high quality protein, then it will help eliminate nutrient deficiencies and make you feel great.

Last time I checked, if you’re replacing your regular meals with a shake, doesn’t matter if it’s something you that says ‘5 servings of your required fruit and veggies intake per bottle!’, you’re still stripping away your body’s natural cravings for real food, and that’s not cool.

4. It does not promote regular exercise.

Change takes time, and yes for some of us, trying to change the way we eat and the way we move at the same time can exhaust our willpower and eventually make us give up. But in one way or another, your diet should promote regular exercise. If it’s telling you that you will get results even if you don’t exercise, then it’s most likely fad then being real.

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym every single day, but having room in the plan to do even a quick workout can make a lot of difference. Try to focus on mixing up your routine by incorporating both high and low intensity workouts. Your body will function better, and it’ll turn your healthy food into functional tissue.

5. It focuses on the quantity, not the quality of the food.

It doesn’t matter what diet you’re on, if you’re being told to eat only a set amount of macronutrients or calories and that is being emphasised on more than the quality of food, then perhaps you should give it a pass.

Counting calories may work, but it does not last. Our body is constantly evolving, always trying to change and be better so we will never know what is the right amount of calories or macronutrients we should be consuming.

On the other hand, focusing on the quality of food is much easier to follow. 

Low carb diets emphasise on eating foods high in protein and fats and lower in sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Paleo diet advocates wants you to eat more natural whole foods, preferably organic and free-range and animal based. Again, these foods are naturally high in protein and fats and minimally processed.

Vegan diets wants you to eat colourful foods made from plants, often unprocessed and something you can find from the ground up. These foods are normally filled with a lot of vitamins and minerals.

See what’s similar here? They don’t focus on the quantity of food, they focus on the quality of the food you’re eating. Remember this: if you’re eating whole unprocessed foods, chances are you’ll feel good, feel fuller for longer and numerical figures do not really matter as much.

6. It’s something you can do for life.

I left this to the last part because it is mighty important and I want you to remember that. Our body and health stays with us for our entire lifetime. We don’t just keep it for the next 3 months, or whatever amount of months our diet plan is for.

If you’re embarking on a diet that you cannot see yourself doing after the program ends, which is usually the case for fad diets, then it’s highly likely it won’t work.

At least not in the long term.

Yes it may sound sweet and all having a diet working for 3-months but ask yourself can you do this for the rest of your life? Can you replace one meal with a strawberry shake even when you’re 50 years old? Can you keep this up even when you’re on a vacation?

If the answer is no, then you know what it means.

The Bottomline

No single diet is perfect for everyone.

Ask the people around you who had their own success stories and you’ll soon realise that although there are similarities here and there, most of them also have done something different.

Some of them may quit sugar cold turkey.

Some simply took it one step at a time.

We’re all facing different challenges in life from our lifestyle, to our physiology, to our mindset. We’re different.

But the good news is? There’s so many healthy ways to eat without sacrificing our sanity.

A great eating plan should make you enjoy food, be flexible and increase your knowledge on nutrition. If you’re on one of them, then great job. Be consistent with it and you’ll see awesome results.

Your turn: Tell me, what is your biggest diet mistake in the past? Leave a comment below, I’ll give you my thoughts!

If you do need help finding your perfect plan, do consider my free 30-min phone consultations. Otherwise, you can always email me at I’ll reply. :)

Have an awesome week Pretty Awesomes!



Coming Soon: My New Book on How I Lost 20 Kilos in Eight Months!

Over the last three months, I have spent time writing. For what?

My new book!

aqilahnorazman copy

That’s right, I’m launching a new book and it’s coming out on Amazon, Google Play and possibly Barnes & Noble this Monday, 26th of January. Also ties up with Australia Day which is super exciting. :)

If you’re wondering if it’s just a typical fitness book, it’s not. In fact, there’s not a single meal or fitness plan in there. Boohoo. :(

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It’s The Third Week of January. Don’t Give Up On Your Goals Yet.


So, how’s your health New Year’s Resolutions going?

Have you missed a workout so far?

Did you even have New Year’s resolutions?

If you, like a million others out there actually do have goals set for this year that goes along the lines of:

  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to sleep better.
  • I want to run a marathon this year.

Then let me warn you, and that it’s okay, you might fall out of the bandwagon soon, if you haven’t already. And it’s only the third week of the year.

The thing about New Year resolutions is that it doesn’t work because for most of us, we don’t put in so much thought into it. It’s created on impulse. Or worst, it’s created beneath all the seven hundred million resolutions you’ve set for yourself this year.

So how do you actually make your resolutions stick?

Is there even a way?

There is and I’ll show you how. I don’t know about your other resolutions but if you’ve set a health and fitness New Year’s resolution for yourself, then make sure you follow it through till the end of the year. And hey, don’t give up just yet. I just have the right plans for you.

And I know you can achieve them.

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Eating Slowly For Weight Loss

eating slowly for weight loss2

I’ve been on the road for the last five months, and I have to admit it, I have definitely put on some pounds.

The irregular eating times.

The clash between trying to see as many places as possible and eating proper meals.

The eating on the go, in the bus, while walking from Times Square to Rockefeller Centre.

You get what I mean.

And while I can blame a lot of factors that caused my weight gain, I honestly believe that I’ve put on some pounds because I wasn’t satisfied with what I ate. More specifically, I wasn’t eating slowly.

Which is why, in 2015, I made a promise to myself. I vow to start eating slowly. I will pay more attention to my food and take my time to consciously enjoy it. It has been five days since the new year, and I have to say it’s going pretty well.

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5 Simple Eating Principles For Fat Loss… And For Life

eating for fat loss

Four years ago, I was obsessed with calorie counting.

I have to say it took me at least two years and a bit to break out of that habit, and it wasn’t an easy one to let go off.

I remembered after losing 20 kilos, I was stuck on how much and how often I should be eating that my healthy eating efforts back-fired on me. The obsession took me through a series of binge-eating episodes and weight gain due to the high stress levels and lack of sleep.

Thankfully, over the years, I figured out how to let the obsession go.

And if there’s something close to my heart when it comes to nutrition, this will be it.

I know most of us want the easy and fastest way out but I believe that if something comes to you easy, it’ll be removed out of you easily too. Which is why when a client comes to me asking me how do I lose weight fast, the first question I ask them is — How long do you want to live?

See, our health is the only thing that will stay with us all the way from the day we were born to the day we die. And I think it deserves much more attention than we’re currently giving.

If you’re hoping to lose fat, make gaining health your priority too.

Think about the lifetime of abundance if you have better health.

Think about how your body can reward you if you have better health.

And think about how easier it is for the people around you if you have better health.

And once you’ve done that, let’s start with cleaning your nutrition up.

Eating To Lose Fat

Losing fat may be hard, but it does not have to be hard.

Forget counting calories. Forget low-carbohydrate diets. Forget any kind of diets for that matter. Eating healthy to lose fat is achievable.

Even better: Eating your favourite foods when you’re trying to lose fat is possible.

I mean it when I say you don’t have to just eat chicken breasts and salads all day. You can still have your desserts, but you have to be aware of what you’re eating and when.

These five simple eating principles for weight loss is not my own invention. In fact, it’s been around for a while. Researchers at Precision Nutrition uses a similar approach. I do in my own life.

Toss the counting out and focus more on how you feel in life and see outstanding results to your body fat measurements.

1. Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry.

So many of us get too caught up in eating regularly. We’re obsessed at eating every 3 hours and then complain that we’re tired if we don’t. Believe it or not, unless we’re building muscle and we do need to constantly feed our muscles with nutrients, research has shown that nutrition timing for fat loss is not that important.

It’s you that is important.

What I mean by that is this: The number one rule when it comes to fat loss and losing weight is to listen to your body and follow what it says.

For many years we are told to eat regularly and I can only find one good reason for that — so that we don’t overeat at our next meal.

But, some people just do not overeat.

If you find yourself constantly overeating at lunch because you did not have anything to eat at 10am, then have a mid-morning snack in order to prevent that.

Some people need a mid-morning snack but not a mid-afternoon snack.

Some people can go without both, and some of us need a snack between our meals all the time.

I for example need a mid-afternoon snack, or else I will start reaching out for undesirable foods.

Another thing when it comes to eating when you’re hungry is the fact that most times, we are just not hungry. Sometimes we’re just bored and other times, we’re simply just thirsty. Yes it happens.

I have a client who always says she needs to eat something at 3pm because she’s bored. As a result, she will keep a drawer full of undesirable snacks (think mini fun-sized snickers and such).

Eating when you’re bored is not eating when you’re hungry.

Eating when you’re bored means you’re eating mindlessly.

If you find yourself eating mindlessly, keep a food diary for at least a week and be honest with it.

One last thing, try not to confuse hunger with thirst.

If you normally eat breakfast at 7am, lunch at 1pm, a snack at 4pm and then dinner at 8pm and then you wonder why you feel hungry on a certain day at 6pm, chances are you’re thirsty.

The amazing thing about our body is called adaptation. If you’re already eating at regular timings, chances are you won’t get hungry at other unusual timings.

If you find yourself becoming hungry at an unusual time, have at least a glass of water and then wait for 15 minutes.

If you’re still hungry and your stomach is grumbling, chances are you’re hungry. In that case, grab a high-protein and high-fat snack.

If your hunger pang just went away, congratulations you have just hydrated yourself. Now wait for your next meal at 8pm.

2. Have a palm sized (or two palm sized) of protein at every meal.

Growing up in an Asian family means I’m simply not used to eating enough protein. When I was first told to increase my protein intake, I was shocked looking at how much protein I have to consume every day.

But here’s the thing: In order for you to lose fat, you have to increase your protein intake.

Protein has been shown to reduce hunger by filling you up and making you feel satisfied and ultimately eat less in your other meals.

Researchers from the University of Missouri found that eating a high-protein breakfast made their subjects feel fuller throughout the day and thus ate a smaller dinner.

There was also a significant drop in ghrelin, which is a hunger-stimulation hormone, and an increase in PYY, a satiety-stimulating hormone (the type of things that signals your body that you’re full).

Now you don’t have to worry so much at this point on exactly how much protein you should be eating in grams. All you have to do to make sure you’re consuming enough protein for your body is to have a palm-sized of protein at every meal if you’re a lady and two-palm sized of protein at every meal if you’re a man. 

That’s protein for breakfast, lunch, dinner and optionally, your snacks too.

3. Have one fist sized of veggies at every meal.

eating for fat loss

Remember how our parents will always complain if we toss aside our veggies when we were younger? Or in fact, how do you feel when your kids do that?

Vegetables are important in a balanced diet and especially so if fat loss is your main goal.

Vegetables are also considered a carbohydrate. However, unlike bread, rice and pasta, they are not powerful enough to elevate your blood sugar levels to cause any significant sugar crash. In fact, vegetables contain all the amazing vitamins, nutrients and everything else you need to keep your insides healthy and happy.

Forget green detoxes.

Forget green supplements.

Learn how to eat your veggies.

I know some of you may say that you simply just don’t eat vegetables and fair enough, some vegetables out there are quite unpleasant to our tastebuds, like broccoli is to me. But there are over 100 different types of vegetables, and if you’re someone who simply hates vegetables, try a new one everyday (and cook it differently if you like) and don’t stop until you find something that you actually like.

Back to my relationship with broccolis, I know it’s nutritious but I don’t think I’ll ever have them simply because I dislike it. I do however like green beans, baby carrots and cauliflowers. And more recently, kale, thanks to my relocation to Canada.

If you’re serious about losing fat, have one fist-sized of vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4. Leave your unprocessed carbohydrates to only after a workout.

I feel sorry for carbohydrates for having a bad rep thanks to diets such as Atkins, but here’s the thing: You need carbohydrates. And for a lot of reasons in fact.

I’ll list them in a second but if there’s only one takeaway message you want to get out of today’s post is this: Leave your starchy carbohydrates to only after you’ve worked out. If you didn’t exercise that day, replace your starchy carbohydrates with more non-starchy ones, i.e. veggies.

The reason is simple. Consuming carbohydrate during this important post-workout period enables your body to replace muscle glycogen and improve recovery. Our body absorbs the glycogen much more readily immediately after training, particularly for up to 3 hours post-exercise. More importantly, consuming these starchy carbohydrates right after you’ve trained prevents your body from storing them as fat.

And as mentioned earlier, you need carbohydrates for several reasons:

  • It’s your body’s preferred source of energy, especially for your brain and nervous system. Ever been on a low-carbohydrate diet? Remember how it consumes you and makes you feel terrible? That’s because your body’s preferred energy source is lacking.
  • It makes you feel fuller for longer. And I mean the unprocessed carbohydrates, especially the ones with lower GI.
  • It promotes bowel movement, essentially getting rid of waste and toxins from our body. I find that if I don’t have enough carbs, I can go bloated and massively constipated.
  • They taste good. Put your hands up if you agree!

Again, leave starchy carbohydrates on days you’ve exercised, within 3 hours after your training session. Have a fist-sized of them if you’re a lady, and two fist-sized of them if you’re a man. On days you didn’t exercise, replace your starchy carbohydrates with non-starchy ones, which is your vegetables, as mentioned in point number 3.

5. Eat slowly and stop at 80% full.

If there’s one thing I need to start developing is to eat slower and not rush as though I have a plane to catch.

I have to admit, I have a very bad habit of eating really fast. I can finish a meal in less than ten mins and some times I complain that I do not feel full enough.

I’m working on it and yes that will change. 

Eating slowly gives your body’s internal system enough time to react to the food you’ve just consumed. It takes time for our hormones to kick off and tell our brain that we’re full so give them a chance to work. I’m trying my best to take at least 15 chews per bite, sit down at every meal and concentrate fully on the food I’m eating. You should too.

And if you take at least 15-20 mins to finish up your meal, your stomach have enough time to signal to your brain that it’s full. Before you get to a point where you’re stuffed, stop eating when you’re 80% full.

How do you know you’re full? You can’t taste the food anymore and you’re simply just chewing it away.

Your body will thank you.

Here’s To You…

Eating for fat loss can be a complicated matter but all these 5 simple principles requires some habit building to implement into your life. I suggest doing them one at a time, instead of tackling all 5 at one go.

Perhaps this week your goal is to have a palm-sized of protein at every meal. And then next week you can try to eat slower and stop eating when you’re 80% full.

Whatever you do, I want you to know that these 5 principles can be brought forward, even if you don’t have anymore weight to lose. That’s the beauty of it.

Try it out and let me know how you feel about it. And while you’re here, tell me what is the one thing you do in your daily nutrition to lose fat and how has that helped you achieve your goals? I want to know. Leave a comment below and I will personally respond them.

Have a great week ahead. Again, if you need help with anything at all, do email me at and I will try my best to help you out.



The Science Of Never Missing A Workout Ever Again


I have to admit, the cold weather here in Toronto makes it a million times more difficult to get up in the morning and work out.

There’s no such thing as just heading out for a run when a snow storm happened overnight and temperatures are dropping below zero.

But what needs to be done still has to be done.

Let’s face it. Showing up is the hardest part when it comes to getting our daily work out in.

Over the last couple of weeks too, I’ve experimented in a couple of things when it comes to getting up and training. And I’ve found something that works every single time. It’s not new. I did not invent it, but for the first time I applied it to my life. And I haven’t missed a scheduled workout over the last three months. Take a look.

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Sleeping, Eating and Exercise Tips For People Who Work Shifts

health tips for shift workers

I’ve always been personally connected to people who work shifts.

My parents, both nurses and have been for the last forty years works shifts. Dad, in fact, works regular night shifts till today. Pretty impressive I must say and he’s pushing 60.

At least half of my friends works shifts ranging from jobs in the retail, healthcare, airline and food industry.

I would like to think I work shifts too as I don’t have regular working hours.

Unfortunately, most of these shift workers suffer from a lot of health issues. The lack of sleep, constantly adjusting to different environments and dealing with rotating rosters that is NEVER consistent can lead to a higher levels of stress, body fat and battles with weight and eating issues.

But it does not have to be that way. Thankfully, there are ways to steer away from suffering in declining health if you work shifts. I have 12 sleeping, eating and exercising tips for shift workers today, along with a real-life example and an actionable worksheet for you to make your health better. Let’s do this!

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6 Non-Weight Loss Lessons Learned After Losing 20 Kilos

Four years ago I embarked in a journey to shed some unwanted weight.

8 months later, I managed to lose 20 kilos.

how to lose 20 kilos

Right after that massive success, people start to compliment me and for the first time in my life, I felt included and accepted. Not because I was finally in a healthy weight range, but because people acknowledged my presence more than when I was 20 kilos heavier.

It’s a mean society, but as much as I didn’t want to believe it that way, it’s a fact.

It’s like it didn’t really matter if you were standing up for a cause, or you’re doing something every day to give back to the community or if you’re just generally a kind person, what you weigh makes a whole lot of difference.

And I know this because I experienced it myself.

Last night, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and she wholeheartedly agreed to it. In fact, we came up with 6 non weight loss lessons we learned as soon as we started to lose weight. From friendship, to loving ourselves, to having full acceptance over our body, it’s interesting what we discover after losing weight and no matter where you are in this journey, I want you to know this too.

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Why I’m Thankful For Having Stretchmarks, Big Bones and Zero Abs

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I’m going to skew away from my normal 2000+ words post and make it short and sweet and let all of you enjoy the rest of your evening with your family.

But before we do that, let’s take some time to be thankful for one of the most important person in this world – you.

See, I’m not perfect. I’m a personal trainer, and a sports and exercise nutrition coach but I do not have abs nor do I have a ‘perfect’ fitness model body shape. But it doesn’t bother me. Why? Because it makes me, me. You don’t need abs to be beautiful and even if you’re skinny, big boned or you have wide hips, there are so many reasons to be thankful for that.

Here are 6 things I’m thankful for me this Thanksgiving. I hope this inspires you to do the same.

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Low Carb Diet vs Low Fat Diet: The Real Deal + Free Meal Plan

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I get a dozen of emails every week with people asking me how to lose weight fast. Keyword: fast.

And just recently, one caught my eye. Not because I’ve never heard of it before, but because it’s the first time someone personally emailed me to ask me about it.

Here it is: “Hi Aqilah. I really want to lose weight fast. I’ve read a lot about dieting lately but am kind of stuck on which way to go. In your opinion, which is the better diet? Low carb or low fat? Please advise.”

I’m not one who likes to use the word diet and nor do I like to give a one size fits all nutrition plan because all of us have different needs and goals but for the majority of us who wants to lose weight or needs to lose weight, and if you want to do so fairly quickly, a low carbohydrate diet will trump a low fat diet anytime.

In fact, a low-carbohydrate diet can go a long way especially if we’re overweight, have a diagnosed metabolic syndrome or even lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

Today I’m going to talk all about the difference between a low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet. Towards the end, you can even download a sample one-day nutrition plan if you’re set on going this way.

Let’s go.

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