Every Diet Works: The Truth About the World’s Best Diet
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What do all of the people pictured below have in common?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s not their diet. While they all have impressive bodies that most of us would pay big money for, none of the people below use the same diet or nutrition strategy. Let’s take a look at each and see if we can uncover the world’s best diet.
Let’s start at the top left. This is Alberto Nunez, a natural bodybuilder and fitness coach. Berto is well known in the natural bodybuilding community as a flexible dieter or someone that follows the IIFYM (If it fits your macros) diet. No food is off limits, but he tracks everything that goes in his mouth.
To the right of Berto you have Natalie Jill, a fitness writer and gluten-free vegan. That means no meat, bread, eggs, or beer (gluten).
Next up we have Chris Pratt, the Guardians of the Galaxy star. Chris followed a low carb style of eating to get ripped up for his new role. So, no sandwiches, pizza, candy, or beer.
Then we have the ladies of CrossFit who undoubtedly eat Paleo, and maybe some PEDs, but that’s another article. Paleo is the one where you have to give up grains, dairy (ice cream), and beer. Oh, and peanut butter.
Finally, we have Martin Berkhan who has helped popularize Intermittent Fasting. With IF you have a smaller time period designated for eating. Similar to IIFYM most intermittent fasters don’t restrict food, but you will have to wait until after noon to eat your first meal, and shortly after that have your last meal of the day.
So, what do all of these people with totally different diets have in common?
They all have awesome bodies, and they got those bodies using totally different nutrition strategies. But are their strategies all that different, really?
They may be different, but they accomplish the same things. Let’s take a look.
Paleo and low carb diets take out grains and processed foods, which Americans eat entirely too much of. This results in a reduced daily calorie intake.
Intermittent fasting limits calorie intake with the smaller eating window which prevents a person from grazing or snacking, and unknowingly overeating. Anyone that has tried fasting knows how full you are during your eating window. Read more about intermittent fasting here.
Vegan diets eliminate high-calorie (not bad) meats and animal proteins and have a higher volume of food from vegetables which leave them full most of the day, resulting in a reduced calorie intake.
IIFYM flat out tells someone they are limiting calories and requires serious discipline, but is almost 100% effective.
As you can see, these diets focus on the same things:
- Decreasing overall calorie consumption.
- Increasing protein intake.
- Emphasizing whole food intake for micronutrient and fiber content. (Yes, even IIFYM.)
- Decreasing processed foods and eliminating “empty” calories to a certain extent.
That’s really about it.
So if they all work, why aren’t they working for you or your friend? Well, I like to compare diets to Netflix.
When you log in to Netflix you have an instant overload of television shows and movies. Most of the time I end up shuffling through for 10 minutes which is followed by me turning the TV off and doing something else. Does that sound anything like researching diets? There are so many options out there for nutrition and training programs, just like Netflix, that it can cause a person to do nothing at all, or “paralysis by analysis.”
Other times you find something great like Breaking Bad and binge-watch the whole series in two weeks, and that’s being generous. This reminds me of a person being gung-ho about their new diet for several weeks and then just falling off the wagon when it loses its luster. These are the major reason why I don’t recommend any particular diet. Even if they all work, most of them aren’t designed for long-term success. But what’s the alternative?
My favorite piece of diet advice is to find the diet you could see yourself doing a year from now, because why would you want to diet for the rest of your life? You have to figure out a way of eating that fits your life and your goals.
If you think you can make your kids eat paleo after not eating paleo thus far, you’re crazy. In the same regard, if you work long hours and don’t like to cook, preparing meals and carrying Tupperware around won’t work for you either. Be honest with yourself and figure out a way of eating that you can actually stick to. Just remember that fitness should never add stress to your life. It should enhance it!
If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition for fitness and healthy living, I’ve put together a free eBook on the topic. It covers everything from calculating your metabolic rate, calorie and macronutrient needs, diet strategies, as well as food guides and recipes. You can learn more about Nutrition Made Easy 3.0 here or enter your info below to download a copy.