Diets seem to come and go with the seasons these days, and have been doing so for decades. For most people, diet is by far the most difficult aspect to master in maintaining a healthy life, when compared to training, recovery and supplementation. One of the main reasons being we are surrounded by unhealthy food choices everywhere you look. Even our “North American Diet” that the government deems as the standard of healthy eating is forever changing, and in the opinion of many considered to be not ideal.
Why does proper diet and nutrition seem to be subjective? It seems like every month another study is released that completely contradicts a previous study that says food X is good for you. Without getting into the science of medical studies, it's fair to say that if you want to control the outcome of a study to promote a product, it is easy to manipulate the variables to get your desired, biased result. And with the release of every new study is movement from the food industry to either push or hinder specific food sales to the public.
Objective Truths of Diet and Nutrition’s
There are some objective truths when it comes to diet and nutrition. There are some basic truths that seem to be agreed upon, and over the last few decades the consensus on these has not changed. For the most part though it seems like we just can't figure out what the best diet to consume is. Depending on who you ask, diet X or diet Y is best… until next month when new diet Z comes out.
The problem with diets, isn't the diets themselves, although most diets are fundamentally flawed. The problem is us. The problem is that 95% of people who try a diet never follow it through to the end, or they do follow it and achieve their desired result of losing weight, but neglect to continue to eat healthy, and generally rebound, gaining back even more weight than they had initially lost. That’s why I always says concern with best online nutrition coach, before starting any diet plan for gaining or losing your weight.
The Yoyo Dieting
This behavior leads to yoyo dieting, where the individual tries a diet, loses weight, goes off the diet, gains back all the weight and/or more, and then goes back on the diet, or a new diet. Very few people are disciplined and regimented enough to follow and stick to eating in a healthy manner to lose, and keep the weight off for good. So when people ask me what diet is best for losing weight, or for just maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I tell them there is no such thing.
Most Diets Can Initially Lose Your Weight
Most diets if followed properly can help you initially lose weight as they are generally the same when it comes to cutting back the total amount of food, or calories consumed to the point where your body is in a calorie deficit, and will mobilize stored carbs, proteins, or fat for fuel causing weight loss. The hard part is continuing to lose weight when your metabolism slows down due to calorie restriction. Also, what's not always known is where the weight loss is coming from. Ideally you want to lose only stored fat when dieting, as muscle helps to burn calories and stimulates your metabolism when stressed through training. So diets that cause you to lose both fat and muscle are not ideal. And losing only fat and not muscle can be difficult. You also need to expend calories, or energy by moving around and exercise to lose fat and maintain or grow muscle tissue to aid in fat loss.
Also although we are all humans, we all have different tolerance levels to certain foods. So if we all follow diet X we would mostly all have different results. Most diets are generally one size fits all. As humans, we are omnivores, meant to consume meat and plants. Both food groups provide different micronutrients, vitamins and minerals that are all required in the body for optimal health. So with diets that exclude an entire food group, you're eliminating food that provides your body with important micronutrients that are catalysts for an array of chemical reactions that keep us alive, and make us function optimally. Sure you can supplement with vitamins and minerals to cover what may be missing in your diet, but your best bet is to get your required nutrition from whole foods.
Do Not Stick with a Same Diet
The Main problem with sticking to a diet is that most people are lazy and want the easy and quick fix. Our world is becoming more and more about convenience, and efficiency, every day a new product comes out that makes a certain task easier and faster than before. But when it comes to our body, there is no quick fix, or magic pill. Living a healthy lifestyle requires dedication, self control, consistency, and hard work. Eating the right foods in moderation to lose or maintain a healthy weight, or building muscle in the gym to better your health, training your brain by reading, and educating yourself, and building a spiritual connection to the universe are all required in becoming a well balanced, healthy and whole human being.
I'm not going to go over all of the diets currently trending, or the ones that have been forgotten. The best “diet” is going to be the same for most all of us. Every day each of us needs a certain amount of protein to stay in a nitrogen balance to maintain existing muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is highly metabolic, and by having a surplus of nitrogen, you can gain muscle which inturn raises your metabolism and burns more calories throughout the day. Protein can come from meat, dairy, eggs, legumes, grains, etc. Different meat sources provide different micronutrients and other beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Importance of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are also required for energy, they are broken down into glycogen which fuels the brain, other organs and our muscles. Stored glycogen provides the energy for most movement, including exercise. Having stored glycogen ensures the body spares stored muscle tissue, when it needs energy. The fiber found in carbohydrates aids in proper digestion, helps control cholesterol, and has other important functions. Healthy carb sources would include fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc. Unhealthy and all too commonly consumed carb sources are basically all processed foods that come in a box or bag. These convenient fast, cheat foods are high in sugar and fat, and low in nutrients.
Healthy fats are also required in the diet to provide energy, support growth of new cells, aid in the absorption of nutrients and help produce a variety of hormones in the body. There are good and bad fats to consume. The good ones come from meat sources, nuts, seeds, and certain oils. Bad fats including trans fats should be eliminated from the diet and are common in most fast and processed foods.
Maintaining Homeostasis is Important
Every day a certain amount of calories need to be consumed to maintain homeostasis, the body's setpoint, where it tries to maintain a certain weight. To lose or gain weight is simple. Find your maintenance amount of calories and either cut or add 3-500 calories per day for a few days and see how your weight changes. The only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit, where your body starts liberating calories from stored energy sources, ideally fat. Your body will eventually adapt to your calorie restriction and your weight will plateau. Then you need to increase calories for a few days to trick your metabolism into not dropping. To keep your metabolism from dropping you need to incorporate exercise. Yes sorry, you really need to workout to properly lose weight. Exercise will stimulate hormones that enhance health and well being, and conditions the entire body along with increasing your metabolism, which causes you to burn more calories daily.
Most Diets Aren't Sustainable for Everyone
Most diets aren't sustainable, they can't be maintained for long periods of time, and they tend to eliminate whole food groups that are, if properly consumed, good for your body. Yes your body can build proteins, from other stored macros, and pull energy from stored muscle and fats, not just glycogen, which can also be built without ingesting carbs, as the body is very resourceful and functions to survive no matter what you're ingesting. But the all around best diet is just eating whole foods rich in nutrients, in moderation, every day. There's nothing wrong with a cheat meal here or there if it's in moderation. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, moderation is key.