What’s the best diet?
So what do it eat???
As a young kid I was always excited to see Spiderman.
He would get my attention & I would imitate him as best I could, but alas I never seemed to be able to climb a wall!
One day I realised there was no way of becoming Spiderman.
Because he didn't exist.
You know what else doesn’t exist?
The best diet that represents the One True Way.
And this kinda sucks. It would be a lot easier if someone could just tell you — or tell me, for that matter — exactly what to eat.
But unfortunately humans are complicated. While there are some generally accepted best practices, different people seem to do better or worse with different dietary approaches.
Even when we’re looking for a specific result (like weight loss), most meta-studies suggest they all work pretty similarly over time when controlled for adherence.
For most people wanting to lose weight first focussing on the amount of food as phase one, then improving the nutrients in each meal seems to work well. Generally people are surprised by how little food they need to meet their daily calorie burn.
Presumably there’s some genetic variance to how well we each tolerate certain food items. While elimination diets can be useful, we can’t determine exactly how to eat for your individual best health probabilities. And even if we did, we’d still need to consider a host of other factors: ethics, politics, sustainability, and culture, to name just a few.
So… it’s complicated. And to make things more confusing, virtually every approach you can think of has a small army of advocates, books, Netflix documentaries, and (usually cherry-picked) studies to prove that a given approach is the One True Way.
Paleo, Vegan, Zone, Atkins, Ornish, Keto, Mediterranean, If It
Fits Your Macros, Raw Foods, Intermittent Fasting… In fact, we’ve finally filled in all the squares on the Literally Every Diet Imaginabl
e bingo card; we now have the meat-only Carnivore Diet. Hooray!
So what’s the best diet?
Or to put a finer point on what’s being asked with this question…
What should I eat?
While I’ve already acknowledged that there are lots of different factors to consider, allow me to offer some (admittedly crude) guidance that will serve you more often than not:
Don't eat more than your body needs. Find out your metabolic rate to know how many calories your body burns each day.
Work out how many calories a meal should be for you & what that looks like on a plate.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
Get a wide variety of total food items in your diet.
Create your meals and snacks mostly out of foods with only one ingredient; mostly foods on the perimeter of the grocery store and/or ones that can go bad.
Eat a serving of a protein-rich food source with each meal.
Cook most of your meals at home if possible.
If this ISN’T possible, become practiced at asking for modifications when you eat out to avoid massive amounts of butter, oil, dressings, etc.
Develop a repertoire of meals you can prepare at home that you genuinely love to eat. This one of the best investments of time and energy you’ll ever make.
Go as organic as you can afford, particularly when consuming thin-skinned fruits & vegetables, dairy, fish, and meats.
Prioritize locally sourced foods.
If you order in a lot, identify your “go to” menu of delivery meals that serve your fitness goals.
Eat slowly. Your body needs time to recognize it’s been fed, so this is particularly helpful if you’re prone to overeating.
Adjust your portion sizes up if you want to gain muscle and down if you’re looking to burn fat.
Be intentional about planning indulgences so you can enjoy them guilt free while still nourishing your body with healthy foods most of the time.
I concede this is a pretty general list. And even here, I’m sure there are people out there who would quibble with some of the above. But I promise if you follow the above principles you’ll see good results!
And if you’re looking for more guidance?
Our Personal Trainers can help with a personalized accountability coaching program. Our coaches can help you figure out what to eat based on your personal preferences and goals AND support you in consistently taking action. Ask us for details.
We may well see breakthroughs in our lifetime that will tell us exactly what’s best to eat for our individual bodies. And that would be amazing.
But much like a 5 year old trying to climb walls like Spiderman, for now, it’s best to move forward with a slightly more grounded approach.