The Best Diet
The past decade has seen an explosion of new diet and weight loss strategies. A quick Google search of ‘top diets’ bombards you with endless options including low carb, DASH, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, veganism, and even gluten-free strategies. With all of these options, it’s no wonder some occasionally turn to whacky diets endorsed by their favorite social media influencer rather research backed strategies that work.
The answer to, “what is the best diet?” is complicated. There are many variables you should consider when picking a strategy. Some include:
- What types of foods do you enjoy?
- What are your fitness and exercise goals?
- Do you have any health concerns?
- Are you looking to start a healthy lifestyle?
There is no approach that fits everyone’s individual needs. There are however, basic rules which every dieting strategy must follow to be successful.
Basic Dieting Rules
For all the diets out there, there is one rule that unifies all of them: energy balance. Diets differ in a number of ways: they restrict different types of foods, ban entire macronutrients, only allow a certain group of food choices, or even restrict the times when you’re allowed to eat.
All these rules are different means to the same end: restricting calorie intake. Though many don’t like to talk about calories, all successful diets must create a calorie deficit: a state in which you burn more energy than you consume.
Whether your diet cuts out carbohydrates, only allows you to eat cucumber soup, or restricts eating hours, it’s creating a calorie deficit in a different way. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of the body, but unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to induce weight loss without a calorie deficit.
Healthy Lifestyle versus Weight Loss
Though all diets create a calorie deficient state in order to be successful, there are plenty of ways to get there, and that’s a good thing. One strategy can’t work for everyone. Unfortunately, because there are a lot of ways to lose weight, some are not healthy.
Weight loss does not always mean improving health. The only rule a strategy needs to follow to create weight loss is: create a calorie deficit. There are plenty of unhealthy ways of doing this.
Rather than simply focusing on weight loss as the ultimate goal, you should place the emphasis on creating a healthy lifestyle. A few ways of doing this include:
- increase intake of healthy foods
- minimize intake of junk food
- improve fitness habits
- decrease stress and improve mental health
- ensure adequate sleep and recovery times
Focusing on these areas improves overall health and leads to weight loss. Strategies that focus on creating a healthy lifestyle have much more favorable long term results.
Short Term versus Long Term Success
Sure you can probably lose 5-10 pounds in a relatively short period of time using questionable methods. Generally, more drastic measures are required for quicker weight loss. While these drastic measures may be easy to keep up for a few weeks, you’ll eventually get sick of living that life and most likely see the weight return. A good strategy recognizes the differences between short and long term success and helps you in building a foundation that you can live a life on.
The Best Diet Series
In this series, we’ll look at the research of a wide variety of weight loss strategies. We’ll talk about why each diet works, its implication on overall health, and whether or not it’s a good strategy to pursue. When this series is over, we may be able to answer, “What is the best and most effective diet?”
The Keto Diet (coming soon)
Vegetarianism/Veganism (coming soon)
Low Carb Diets (coming soon)
Low Fat Diets (coming eventually)
Intermittent Fasting (coming eventually)
Gluten Free Diet (coming eventually)
DASH Diet (coming eventually)
Mediterranean Diet (coming eventually)
Paleo Diet (coming eventually)