Paleo, Vegan, IIFYM, Intermittent Fasting, Low-Carb, Keto… it’s baffling. Every week, a new diet is being raved about across social media channels – so which is best?
When considering making improvements to the way you eat, it’s so easy to set out in search of ‘The Best Diet’.
You know, the one that’ll finally help you drop those stubborn lbs and body fat you’ve been unable to lose. The best diet that will make you feel physically strong and mentally sharp. The best diet that will have you rocking hard core abs on your upcoming holidays. The best diet that will give you some energy back so you can take the stairs without getting winded or book a bucket list trip without worrying about whether you’re up for it.
Doesn’t that diet sound amazing?? SADLY here’s the thing – there is no ‘BEST DIET’.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to diets. And that can confuse the hell out of people, because the human brain likes easy categorization.
There are a number of things that need to be factored in when looking at diets:
– Body type: People come in tall and thin while others come in short and stocky.
– Dietary preferences: Some people like to eat loads of meat while others don’t eat meat at all.
– Budget: Not everyone has the same budget to spend on food.
– Nutritional Knowledge: Some people are devout followers of a certain dietary practice, while others have very little nutrition knowledge whatsoever.
– Time: Some people have lots of free time to devout to health and fitness while others don’t.
As a result, what’s important to remember is that there is not one single nutrition philosophy that will be right for everyone. Paleo might work for some people while vegetarianism works for others. When choosing a diet fo you, you should be happy you found something that has helped you reach YOUR goals.
Psychologically, the human body can do well under a host of different nutritional conditions. This is only possible because the human body is amazingly adaptable to a host of different dietary conditions.
So here’s the GOOD NEWS:
It is possible to be healthy and fit whether you eat mostly meat or mostly vegetables, mostly fat or mostly carbs, many times a day or just a few times a day, and so on.
Which backs up my above argument that there is no ‘Best Diet’.
Over the past 12 months on Instagram I’ve started following different food accounts and fitspo’s, for want of a better word. Some eat plant-based diets, others eat meat. Some eat high carb diets, others eat low. Some eat dairy-free, gluten-free, and all other potential allergen-free diets. Others follow IIFYM i.e ‘eat whatever I want as long as I get enough proteins and fats and stay healthy’ diets. It used to leave me baffled because they all looked AMAZING no matter what diet they followed: toned, muscly, sporty, fit and healthy and I was left with the question – how can such wildy different nutrition programs all lead to positive results?
So I’ve been doing so much research on the topic in search of the ‘BEST DIET’ myself and here is what I’ve learned.
Firstly, not all diets are as different as we think. The things they all had in common were these:
THEY ALL RAISE NUTRITION AWARENESS AND ATTENTION.
I know that most people, including myself, talk about the food itself – the protein, carbs, and fats. What we should eat more of and what to avoid.
But research is now showing that by simply paying better attention to what you eat is a key factor in whether you’ll lose fat, get lean and improve your health. Whether your attention is trained on avoiding carbs, eating more vegetables, seeking out organic/free-range food, avoiding animal foods or avoiding ‘non paleo’ foods, it’s all good.
Because what you focus on may not matter as much as simply caring more about what you’re eating in the first place.
THEY ALL FOCUS ON FOOD QUALITY.
Paleo and low carb advocates want you to eat more natural, free-range animal-based foods that are higher in protein, higher in fat, and are minimally processed.
Vegan and high carb advocates want you to eat more natural, plant-based foods that are higher in fibre, antioxidants, and are minimally processed.
Notice something in common here?
YES, neither recommend eating more processed, chemical-laden ‘junk’ foods. Insead, both pretty much recommend eating whole, minimally processed, nutrient rich-foods, regardless of protein, carbs and fat breakdowns.
THEY ALL HELP ELIMINATE NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES.
Tying in with the previous point, the best nutritional advocates help is shift away from the highly processed foods, which are often low in nutrients because they’ve been stripped down during processing, and advocate towards more whole, minimally processed foods, which often have their nutrients intact.
This is massive. We often look, feel and perform terribly when we’re deficient in important nutrients. But within weeks of correcting this, we feel completely rejuvenated.
THEY ALL HELP CONTROL IUR APETITE AND FOOD INTAKE.
When were more aware of what we’re eating, choose more satisfying, higher quality foods, and eliminate nutrient deficiencies, we almost always end up eating less total food. We feel more satisfied. We lost fat, gain lean muscle and perform better.
Notice that you don’t need calorie counting here. Focusing on food awareness and food quality is usually enough for people to tune into their own hunger and appetite. And that means calorie control without the annoying calorie myth.
It also means you can maintain your results/weight loss. Counting calories has a shelf-life; no one can do it forever.
THEY ALL PROMOTE REGULAR EXERCISE.
When people start paying attention to their diets, they usually start thinking more about physical activity too.
When a person exercises regularly, with a mix of high to low-intensity training, they dramatically improve their ability to turn the food they eat into functional tissues instead of fat.
Hopefully all the above explains and helps you understand how different well-designed philosophies can all promote good health, body composition and longevity.
That is why in my opinion, choosing a single diet to follow makes no sense.
Let’s recap the main points again 😊
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ONE DIET FITS ALL.
Humans over time have all evolved and done well under all sorts of dietary conditions.
Which is why I like to now advocate ‘healthy eating’ as the key diet to follow. My aim is to show you all that you can get in shape eating more of the things you actually like – portion control is key here.
MOST DIETS ACTUALLY HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.
When done with care, attention and a little help – most diets help control appetite, improve food quality, promote exercise and raise nutritional awareness.
DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO FALL INTO THE PHILOSOPHY OF FOLLOWING ONE SPECIFIC DIET.
Healthy eating and proper portion control will help you lose weight and develop a good relationship with food. Don’t fall victim or listen to someone who tells uoi that you have to eat a specific way to success – you don’t. and if they persist in telling you to do so, then you might want to re-think that relationship. Don’t let people bully you or mould you into following a particular way of eating. It’s no necessary.
LONG-TERM NUTRITIONAL HABITS TRUMP SHORT TERM DIET PLANS AND RULES.
Always. It’s important to build habits intelligently and sustainably over time versus following a diet that means doing a full lifestyle change on day 1.
So, in short, the best diet to follow is….
THE ONE THAT’S BEST FOR YOU.
Listen to your needs, what you want to accomplish. How you live. What’s really important to you. Then create a healthy eating lifestyle around that. One that’s specific to you goals and your lifestyle.
BUT REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: PORTION CONTROL.
Don’t listen to diet guru’s, who are in the game to get attention, make a scene, sell a book etc. We do not need to demonize foods, deifying others.
After falling victim to a tonne of diets and meal plans over the years, I now believe that the only sane and rational approach is the approach that works for YOU in the LONG RUN.
And one adaptable to your lifestyle and your goals.