First and foremost, let’s define what a “diet” is? Oxford languages definition of diet is “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” This very broad and simply means, whatever you eat is considered ‘your’ diet. BUT what we commonly hear is “I’m following this diet” or “I’m going on a diet” etc etc. So what is the “best” diet?
Well, first let’s consider the Oxford definition. The best diet would be to eat a variety of whole foods incorporating meats, fruits, nuts and vegetables, leaving out any and all processed foods and alcohols while consuming enough calories to maintain a healthy weight and partake in regular exercise.
When looking for the best diet for weight-loss the above statement holds true. The only change? Consume fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis.
Combining this with a consistent exercise routine and you’ll manage to keep off the pounds for life!
If only it were that simple. Unfortunately we all hit our roadblocks. Reality, genetics, environmental persuasions etc etc. This leads us down the path of diet after diet after diet resulting in what is commonly termed “yo-yo dieting.” As many of you may have experienced, yo-yo dieting is a recipe for gaining more fat than you had when you initially started dieting. The reason behind this is simply due to a caloric deficit too large and for too long, creating imbalances in your hormones and metabolic rate. See previous article How Dieting Stops You From Losing Weight! In a 2007 Randomized Controlled Trial, Corby K Martin et al found that Resting metabolic rate decreased at month 3 for the caloric restriction group and at month 6 for the caloric restriction group plus structured exercise.(1)
So how do we fix this?
Most people can only handle dieting for a maximum of 3 months before falling off the wagon, and even 3 months is a huge challenge. In order to get the best results possible, start point dependent, 3 months is a good guideline before a “diet break” is needed.
In addition to this, many will count calories. While this approach can work for some people, it becomes very tedious, very quickly. Chances are, the foods you’re consuming aren’t necessarily measured or input accurately in many of the tracking apps. This can lead to overeating OR in many cases I have experienced, under eating.
In order to make this sustainable, the calorie counting has to stop at some point. Otherwise, what next? Are you going to carry a food scale to every restaurant you eat at? Not realistic. What about a measuring cup to make sure that alcoholic beverage fits in your macros. Not likely.
In order to continue on a healthy path to success, it is important to understand and recognize the food you put in your body. Initially, we can use calorie counting and tracking to give us an idea of the quantity and quality of the foods we consume. It can help us gauge portion sizing and the macro profile for our meals.
Beyond this arduous process, we can look to gauge our meals using our hands. How does this work? Well, Precision Nutrition has a great sustainable method for meal structure.
Using this method can help us be consistent on our healthy eating lifestyle and avoid over consumption. Incorporating regular exercise and following the whole food (no processed food) approach will ensure you’re fueling your body with quality nutrients and macro nutrients in order to maintain a healthy physique that’ll make you proud!
Martin CK, Heilbronn LK, de Jonge L, DeLany JP, Volaufova J, Anton SD, Redman LM, Smith SR, Ravussin E. Effect of calorie restriction on resting metabolic rate and spontaneous physical activity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Dec;15(12):2964-73. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.354. PMID: 18198305.