Don’t get dragged into the great 21st century diet war.
If you enter, there is no leaving with your honor intact ...
Do you want to get really confused?
Go to Google and search the term “what is the best diet.”
Here’s what you will see:
Paleo, low-carb, no-carb, low-fat, vegan, Mediterranean, intermittent fasting, 5:2, South Beach, Atkins … and the list goes on.
Everyone is convinced their way of eating is the best way.
And anyone who disagrees is wrong.
Sometimes, the arguments get nastier than a cask wine-fuelled brawl on a college campus.
But hold on 1 second, every diet has hordes of followers … And if one group is right, then everyone else must be wrong …
How can this be the case? Why is there so much disagreement?
I just want to know what to eat!
Here’s the truth:
Everyone (and every diet) is basically saying the same things:
1) For good health:
• Eat more whole foods that are nutrient dense, minimally processed and low in added sugar, salt, and fat.
• Eat just the right amount without gaining or losing too much weight.
2) For weight loss:
• Eat more whole foods that are low in calories, high in protein and fibre, and help keep you full throughout the day.
• Bonus points if you avoid processed foods and foods that are easy to overeat.
Same principles. Just different application. That’s all.
Let me show you:
Low-carb diets tell you to avoid foods like cereals, bread, rice, pasta, and packaged snack foods. And when you do, you eat a lot less calories and “junk foods,” and you get healthier.
Low-fat diets tell you to avoid foods with the highest calories per serve. Instead, you’re encouraged to eat more vegetables which are low in calories and full of good stuff. The result? You eat less calories and you become healthier.
Diets like Paleo rule out any processed foods and encourage you to eat only natural foods like lean meats and vegetables … And you guessed it, people eat less junk calories and they become healthier.
The reason why the diet wars never end is because all these diets can work really well for some people … and be terrible for others.
But the “allowed” and “banned” foods for one diet can directly conflict against another diet.
So if Bob transforms his life on a low fat diet and sees Jane talking about how good a high fat diet is, he’s going to have a word or 2 to say.
And since Jane failed a low fat diet but got results on a high fat diet, she’s going to fight back.
And that’s how another diet battle starts.
If only they knew they were essentially arguing the same points.
On a related note …
The biggest problem with all generic diets is the strict set of “rules” you must follow.
Most of the time the “banned” foods will be junk like fried chips, but some will be perfectly nutritious.
For example, you can’t have any lean meat on a vegetarian diet. And you can’t have fresh fruits or potatoes on a ketogenic diet.
(People sometimes also misleadingly think they can eat as much of the “allowed” foods as they want with no negative consequences.)
We’re all different.
We have our own unique lifestyle, traditions, beliefs, taste preferences, upbringing …
But generic diets don’t take any of that into account.
They get you to follow restrictive rules instead of helping you develop healthy eating habits.
That’s why you shouldn’t get too attached to any one method of eating. You should experiment and find what works best for you.
Remember: Same principles, just different application.
Here’s what best diet for you would look like.
It’s called the “*Put your name in here*” diet.
• 90% of it is whole nutritious foods you enjoy eating. Foods like lean meats, vegetables, fruits … things that weren’t “created” in a factory.
• The other 10% is for your best judgement. You can spend it on whole foods, but you can also use it on social outings and special occasions.
• Don’t eat any one food in excess. Have some variety. This helps you get all the nutrients you need.
• Limit heavily processed junk foods.
• Plan your meals in a way that suits your lifestyle best.
• Keep trying new things to find what works best for you.
Personal preference is the best tool for achieving long-term health. Adherence is the biggest factor that separates people who succeed versus those who fail.
Find what works best for you.
Then you can build a lean, healthy body that you can maintain without a lifetime of suffering.
Until next time,
P.S. This article is a part of my daily email newsletter — if you enjoyed it you should join in the fun here — hanswei.com/daily-email
P.P.S. I live at hanswei.com/blog — you can read more of my writing there.
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