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Is This New Diet Really Good For You?

The constant debate surrounding the latest nutrition trend never seems to end. As of writing this blog, the Google Search results for “top nutrition diet” spit out this great ‘scientific’ article. The top 5 diets supported by their science is as following:

  • The Low-Carb Whole Food Diet
  • The Mediterranean Diet
  • Paleo Diet
  • Vegan Diet
  • Gluten Free Diet

While each diet has some great elements to it, there are also offsetting criteria that you need to be aware of before beginning yet another new diet. Let’s cut to the basic components of a healthy diet real quick!

  1. Sustainable is Key. Your diet needs to be something that you can follow forever. Many factors such as total energy/calories, quality of nutrients, reasonable costs, and enjoyability are all various factors that contribute to how long you can stick to your diet for. Spoiler Alert: The longer the better.
  2. Nutrients First, Calories Second. The commercialized food industry once praised kale for being the greatest superfood on our planet. Kale sales skyrocketed. Coincidence? Perhaps. But there is some merit to this: kale (and many of the other dark, leafy greens) is an extremely nutrient-dense food. Generally speaking, you want to aim for foods that are nutrient dense, not calorie dense. However, don’t take this out of context because we still need calories!
  3. Calories In & Calories Out. This over-simplified statement has lead people to believe that every calorie that is eaten must also be burned. While there is some truth to this, many people fail to realize that our body is not a laboratory built machine. Our bodies aren’t perfect, and there is sometimes energy (calories) lost in translation. However, the key point to realize is that a relatively high surplus of calories to energy expenditure will result in a gain of weight (stored fat). As such, it is important to be mindful about how many calories we eat relative to how many calories we burn. Pro Tip: Using a tracking tool, such as MyFitnessPal can help you get a better idea about this caloric balance!
  4. Whole Foods are Best Foods: Last but not least, whole foods are key. Whole foods refer to food that has not been processed or altered for shelflife or flavor benefits. Good whole foods include all fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat, naturally processed dairy foods, and unrefined grains. On the other side of the spectrum is where boxed foods, frozen foods, doesn’t-go-bad-for-a-scary-amount-of-time foods, etc. My first nutrition coach taught me: If your grandma can’t recognize the ingredients, it’s probably not good for you. 

With these concepts in mind, you can have a better understanding at why some of the aforementioned diets might be good for you. Alternatively, they might not be right. Which brings me to my final point: just because a diet works for someone, it might not work for you.

Diets (weight loss, more specifically) ‘work’ because they all do the same thing: they restrict your caloric intake. They just have different approaches.

  1. They track and limit your portion (Weight Watchers, MyFitnessPal, etc)
  2. They eliminate certain food groups (Keto, Paleo, Whole30, etc)
  3. They restrict your eating periods (Intermittent Fasting, Raw Before 4, etc)

The bottom line:

If you are unable to sustain your diet and maintain your day-to-day life, your diet isn’t right for you. Use the information in the ‘basic components of a healthy diet’ section to ask yourself whether or not the latest and greatest diet really is great.

For more information, tune in next week!

Cheers

Mathias