When it comes to diets, there is certainly no shortage in options. Keto, Intermittent Fasting, Paleo, Whole 30, the list goes on. So, how is the average person supposed to know which one is the best?
Let me step outside of that box for a minute, and suggest that all of them, and none of them are the best. I know big eye roll right? Well, let me give you another way to look at diets. In fact, let me also point out that all of you already have a diet, it just might be broken.
Most people are in such a hurry to try the shiny new diet, that they overlook the one that is right in front of them. Having long term success with any diet is based on one thing, ADHERENCE. If you are unable to adhere to your diet of choice, then any results you get will be short term at best.
So, back to the part where I tell you how to figure out what the best diet it. What I want to give you is a set of principles that you can overlay onto any diet to figure out if it will work for you. If you can check these boxes then anything will work so long as you can adhere to it long term.
Step 1. Calorie intake. If you are trying to change your body composition, then calorie intake is the only place to start. For fat loss, you need to take in fewer calories than you expend. We call this creating a calorie deficit. This is not an opinion, it has been proven over and over again. If the diet you choose tells you calories don’t matter, or doesn’t mention them at all, that should be a red flag. The only people telling you calories don’t matter are the ones trying to sell you a diet plan. (One that coincidentally removes a bunch of calories from your diet)
Step 2. Macro Balance. This may sound tricky, but all it really means is how you are splitting up your calories into protein, carbs, and fats. There are really in depth ways to figure this out, but most people fit well into a 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat split with a few exceptions. Meal plans that remove entire macro nutrients (carbs or fat) are trying create a calorie deficit by doing so. This is why these types of diets work for some people and not others. Since they did not give you a calorie limit, some people just over eat the other 2 macro nutrients and end up staying the same or gaining weight. Protein is probably the most important one, but a balanced approach at this seems to work best for most people.
Step 3. Meal Timing. This refers to how you space out your meals throughout the day, and is a distant third to the first 2. Most of the people that I work with do not really have to worry about this step too much. Let’s just say that you want to eat a good amount of carbs before you workout, and more carbs and protein after. It doesn’t matter how late you eat, or if you eat carbs past a certain time. These are non-factors that just cloud what is really important.
After looking at these principles, you will notice that not many of the diets I mentioned above talk about any of them. Seems odd doesn’t it? If what I am telling you is the truth, and all the shiny new diets don’t talk about them, what does that mean? Well, it means that in 3 steps I basically told you how to take control of your own diet and it didn’t cost you a penny. If you apply the things I just told you to your current diet, then you don’t need to buy one, and that is a big problem for anyone selling a diet.
At the beginning of this article I said that “all of them, and none of them” were the best diet. That wasn’t just to mess with you. If you take any of the diets I mentioned, and used their style of eating to create a calorie deficit, it will work. If it has a Macro Balance fits with the way that you like to eat, and and puts you in a calorie deficit, it will work. If it puts you in calorie deficit, follows a macro split that you like, and works in Meal Timing, then you have a built your own custom diet.
At the end of the day, you already have a diet. If you use these 3 principles you can fix the one you have, and won’t have to pay someone else to write you a short term diet that you know you can’t stick to. Invest the extra time to learn about your own nutrition, and you need to read articles like this one anymore.