For this post I am not going to get into specifics and overly detailed on foods… I really want to keep this high level and answer the question that I get asked most often in one form or another: “Which diet do you follow yourself?, “What do you think of this diet (insert fad diet or whatever diet has become the latest commercialized hype)?” or “What diet do you recommend most?”. All different forms of the same underlying question.
With so much information being hurled at us online and in popular media about the latest fad diets, it can be almost overwhelming and very difficult to decipher between good information and bad. So where does that leave us? Which diet should we all be following and more importantly, with so many options why do so many diets fall short of helping us to achieve our goals? Let’s take a closer look…
WHY DO MOST DIETS FAIL?
It is no mystery that more often than not, diets fail to achieve the desired outcome. Just look at the level of obesity and disease in modern society for evidence of this. My belief as to why most diets fail can be summed up in 3 main points:
Too difficult to follow – i.e. counting calories: diets that are cumbersome and/or too restrictive are difficult for even the most motivated and disciplined to follow.
Ignore the hormonal component – focusing on the hormonal response to food will set you up physiologically to achieve your goals. This often requires a personalized approach rather than a cookie-cutter diet.
The people you spend the most time with – if you do not surround yourself with a strong support team you can get easily derailed from your plan.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ________ DIET?
Insert the latest fad diet here: ___________. We live in a time where we have access to more information (literally at our fingertips) than we’ve ever had. The downside to that is that we are also bombarded with more misinformation than ever before. Many individuals and companies will unfortunately glorify the latest diet fad in the name of generating profits rather than truly trying to help people. To help you to decipher all of the information out there on diets, I would suggest that we begin looking at what most or even all of the latest fad diets have in common rather than focusing on their differences. Most of the credible diets that seem to be getting results will have the following 2 things in common:
Reduce/eliminate the amount of refined and processes carbohydrates (sugars).
Eat more whole foods the way they are found in nature.
WHICH DIET IS RIGHT FOR ME?
This can be a challenging question to answer because we are all unique individuals with unique circumstances. The best answer to this question is whichever diet will allow you to make positive long-term sustainable choices while helping you feel and function at your best. Here are the main things to consider when deciding which type of diet to follow:
What are your goals? It is highly unlikely that an athlete competing in a sport requiring short bouts of explosive strength would be consuming the same diet as an endurance athlete or weekend warrior.
Consider underlying physiological consideration – are there any health considerations such as underlying illness or predisposition that requires special dietary considerations to correct or at least prevent further complications.
Genetic heritage – what did your parents’ parents eat? What did their parents eat? Our gut biome is passed along to us at birth and has been formed over generations based upon what your ancestors ate. You will likely respond well to following a similar diet. Further, although we are all part of the human race we have different phenotypes which means we can react very differently to eating the same foods. While one individual may respond well to a high fat/low-carb diet, another may have negative health consequences.
Lifestyle – are you a full-time athlete? Are you a full-time professional/executive with an intense work schedule or travelling often? These factors need to be considered when planning out dietary choices to ensure that the individual is able to make sustainable choices.
THE BOTTOM LINE.
The bottom line is that there is not a perfect diet for everyone. We are all unique individuals with unique circumstances. The right diet is the one that works best with your lifestyle, is sustainable, makes you feel your best and helps you meet your unique goals.