There are countless diet trends flooding the media we consume, with advocates for each raving about the amazing results they have seen. Each diet’s devotees claim theirs is the best and the only way everyone in the world should be eating. You most likely have seen or heard something about one of these fad diets, and the advocates’ passion might actually have convinced you that they are right, that their style of eating really is the best! And then the next day you see or hear about a different diet—and now you are suddenly convinced that diet is the best. It’s confusing to keep them all straight and even more confusing to decide which diet trend is right for you.
So if everyone is claiming to see amazing results from each of these diet trends, is one actually better than the others? And if you want to see better results through your diet, should you be sticking with only one?
The answer to both of these questions is no.
Many people see amazing results with a fad diet because it encourages them to become more aware of what they are eating. Either their previous diet habits included eating whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, in any amount they wanted, or they thought they were eating healthy foods but weren’t educated on what “healthy” actually means. When they began fad dieting, they were given boundaries and rules to follow, as well as better education on what healthy food really is.
Whether it’s paleo, keto, intermittent fasting or vegan, most diets have three common principles: Eat more whole foods, eat less sugar and processed foods, and either control your caloric intake or control your eating times (which helps to control caloric intake).
So if these advocates shifted their diet from eating processed carbohydrates, fats and protein to eating high-quality real food, of course they lost weight, regardless of what eating style they followed. The fad diet simply encouraged them to make better eating choices.
So is it the fad diet to thank for the amazing results or is it the healthier foods they are now consuming on a regular basis? The next time you hear that someone lost 25 pounds in two months on the ketogenic diet or by going vegan, ask what their diet was like prior to their new eating style before forming your opinion.
Another reason many people see significant results quickly through fad diets is due to losing water weight. Unfortunately, many times this weight loss isn’t real weight loss. Most processed foods are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and when you cut them out of your diet and consume more whole foods, your carbohydrate intake will drastically drop. As eating 1 gram of carbs causes you to retain 3 to 4 grams of water, reducing your intake of carbohydrates leads you to retain much less water. Therefore, the majority of the weight loss is actually water weight and if you do not stick to whatever diet you are on, you will quickly gain that weight back.
So what should you be eating?
Every person and every body is different. There is no one-diet-fits-all approach to better nutrition. Each of our bodies has different metabolisms, digestive systems, hormone levels, gut health, genetics and activity levels that all have different needs. While one person may be able to metabolize fat easily and find success eating a high-fat diet, others may not be able to digest fats as easily and fats should be limited in their diet. While someone else may have a fast metabolism and thrive on carbohydrates, someone else may have imbalanced hormones and need to control their intake.
Just because one person lost a drastic amount of weight through a certain diet trend doesn’t automatically mean you will see the same results if you jump on the bandwagon. While you might see amazing results, your body might also have the complete opposite reaction! Find what works best for you by experimenting and observing how your body feels and reacts to the foods you consume, the amounts you consume and the time of day you consume them.
Begin to observe your hunger and energy levels as well as your body composition with the foods you are eating. Take note after each meal and after a few weeks. For instance, if you regularly eat a higher carbohydrate breakfast and always feel a mid-morning hunger pang, then maybe your body is telling you it needs more fat or protein in the morning. Switch up your breakfast to eggs and notice any differences you feel mid-morning and observe if your body composition changes over a few weeks.
Through becoming mindful of what your body needs, tuning into what it is telling you and actually giving it what it needs is the right diet for you! Rather than not eating oatmeal for breakfast because you heard someone say it spikes your insulin and causes you to store fat the rest of your day, don’t eat oatmeal because maybe it doesn’t provide you with the right energy and vibrancy you need—or continue to eat because it makes you feel like you are thriving!
What if you don’t know what to look for when observing whether or not your diet is right for you?
Here are signs your diet isn’t working:
- – You are constantly hungry
- – You have intense food cravings
- – You are regularly bloated or gassy
- – You are tired all the time
- – You have irregular digestion or are constipated often
- – You get sick a lot-
- – Your have brain fog
- – You have a lack of motivation
- – You experience regular energy crashes
- – You lose your menstrual cycle
- – You are always cold
- – Your have regular breakouts
- – You have regular mood swings
And here are signs that your diet is working for you:
- – You are energized
- – You are happy
- – You have great digestion
- – You are at peace with food and your body
- – You sleep well
- – Your mind is sharp
More importantly, what works for your body now may not be best for your body one month or one year from now. You as a person are constantly changing, and so is your body. Continue to evolve your diet as your body evolves. Don’t be rigid with high-carb, low-carb, low-fat, high-fat or whatever it may be. What your body needs right now might be different from what your body needs in the future.
So what is the best diet?
The best diet for you includes:
- – Eating habits you can maintain long term
- – Eating foods that make you thrive
- – Eating foods that satiate you
- – Eating foods you thoroughly enjoy
- – Consuming primarily whole foods
- – Eating the proper portion sizes
The diet that is NOT for you definitely does not include:
- – Quick fixes that you cannot and should not maintain long term, such as drastic caloric restriction, deprivation or diet supplements
- – Eating habits that work for other people but may not be best for you
- – Eliminating entire food groups. Life is all about balance!
- – Not being able to be social with friends and family