Breaking Down the Bro Diet


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May 13, 2016
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The “Bro diet”, nearly everybody in fitness has heard of it (or another name for it) and has one of two views; it is completely stupid, or, it is the only diet to follow. If you read my last article, you learned that “clean eating” is simply a myth and does not really exist. However, those who used to consider themselves “clean eaters” (when that was actually a thing) now follow what I mentioned above—the bro diet.

For those of you unaware, a strictly bro-diet is a diet plan that pretty much restricts almost all fun, flexible and processed foods. It got its name from the old-school, gym fad following individual that is now known as a “bro”, and puts people under the impression that consuming strictly micronutrient dense, wholesome food sources will elicit better results than the IIFYM (flexible dieting) approach.

Now, as a flexible dieter myself, I still try to recommend consuming 80% “bro” food, but there is a reason behind it that I would like to explain today. I mean, if calories are king, why can’t I go about consuming all of my carbs from cereal and all of my fat from butter? It won’t hinder my physique. We’ll uncover the reason to put quality sources of calories on your plate as the majority, with flexible foods being thrown in from time to time.


Many people throw this word around without really knowing what it means. Satiety means the feeling of being “sated”, which also means satisfied. So, when someone states that a food has a low level of satiation, he or she is saying that said food is not very filling. This is the aspect of nutrition that will make or break a successful diet.

You see, flexible dieting works because overall energy intake is the only thing that matters in terms of body composition. However, what most people do not come out and say is that choosing foods that are going to lead to the greatest level of satiety will more than likely be the best choice.

For example, let’s look at a plate of broccoli and a baked potato with chicken vs. a bowl of ice cream. The baked potato and broccoli will come in at 25g and 6g of carbohydrate, respectively, each with minimal fat and protein and will probably have total a weight over 220g. As far as protein goes, 130g of chicken breast contains ~31g of protein and 2g of fat, so a 350g meal will total about 280 calories.

Think about how much ice cream can be had for 280 calories. A generic tub of chocolate ice cream contains 140 calories in a 70g serving. So, two servings of ice cream (totaling 140g) will subtract the same amount of calories from the 350g meal of chicken, broccoli and potato from your daily requirements. Which do you think is more filling?

Now, don’t take that and run from the frozen dessert section, for there are many people out there that, well, aside from having the room in their macros at the end of the day for some ice cream, have the self control to consume a small portion size and remain satisfied (and we all should.) That is the beauty of flexible dieting and demonstrates moderation at its best.

Overall Health

Why do we train? Of course to have an aesthetic physique and gain strength, but isn’t the actual goal to be a healthy, properly functioning individual? Well, guess what? Most wholesome, unprocessed “bro” foods are going to be the most micronutrient dense and nutritious.

There’s no hiding the fact that a fresh piece of fruit or a baked sweet potato is going to provide more nutritional benefits than a candy bar. Sure, a lot of [fortified] processed foods are going to provide micronutrients that unprocessed foods do, but I think you catch my drift.

Having said that, I believe that having good overall health means more than just consuming nutritious foods. What I mean by that may be difficult to understand, but it is absolutely true. In fitness, I see so many people restrict themselves to strictly bro foods all of the time. If they truly, truly enjoy that, then so be it…but I view that as a mentally unhealthy practice. Where is the flexibility and control?

This relates heavily to what I said about satiety. If somebody does not possess the ability to enjoy a small portion of a favorite food in moderation and fit it into his or her macros, then said person might want to reevaluate their relationship with food. Being satiated is great, but being unable to stay under control is not healthy.

Good Habit

Let’s face it…avoiding “fun”, flexible foods all of the time is not easy (again, that is why we diet with flexibility.) Those who enjoy the strict bro-diet tend have even more trouble than most, and so they do what they can to stay on track. In short, they lack the self-control. I know that I said this is unhealthy before, but it still happens…and when it does, following a strict bro-diet is a decent way to cope with it.

Alongside good habit, which I will talk about more in depth within the next subtopic, is the fact that consuming a majority of your calories from wholesome, nutritious foods will make it much easier to transition from a surplus, to maintenance, to a cut. In able to remain satiated when in a deficit, it is best to take in more voluminous foods (while still remaining flexible.) If you go throughout your entire bulk consuming a vast amount of cereal and candy, how much will you enjoy broccoli and other fibrous foods? Probably not so much.

Not All Bro Foods Suck!

I wanted to discuss this last. I hear all of the time that, “’healthy’ foods are gross,” or that they, “taste like cardboard.” I’m sorry to those who feel that way because they simply do not know how to cook.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to sit here and try to say that I would enjoy a baked potato for carbs more than I would a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, but I will say that I can make a baked potato taste damn good! If one can make wholesome, nutritious foods that are voluminous and minimally processed taste great, then why wouldn’t they eat them more often?

Wrapping Up

Almost all coaches in the fitness industry including myself tell their clients to receive a majority of their calories from wholesome, nutritious foods. We don’t say it to sound as if we are following old school protocols, we say it because it is best. Today, I am confident in the fact that we were able to uncover the reasons why, and now have a better view of both sides of the IIFYM vs. “Bro-Diet” argument.