Food Freedom Friday Edition 28

Your Best Diet

Most effective nutrition programs are more similar than different. Even those seemingly at opposite ends of the nutrition spectrum, say, Paleo and plant-based eating have way more in common than is obvious at first glance. When implemented properly, Paleo diets, plant-based diets, high carb diets, low carb diets, high fat regimens, eating small meals frequently, eating larger meals infrequently and everything in between, all accomplish a few key nutritional basics

1.        They raise nutrition awareness and attention.

I know, everyone wants to talk about the food itself—the proteins, carbs, and fats. What to eat more of and what to avoid. Research is now showing that simply paying better attention to what you eat is a key factor in whether you will be able to lose fat and improve your health. Whether your attention is trained on avoiding carbs, eating more vegetables, seeking out organic / free-range food, avoiding animal foods, or avoiding processed or modern food, the changes can be dramatic. What you focus on may not matter as much as simply caring more about what you are putting into your body in the first place.

2.        The focus in on food quality.

Paleo and low carb advocates want you to eat more natural, free-range animal based foods that are higher in protein, higher in fat, and are minimally processed. Vegan and high carb advocates want you to eat more natural, plant-based foods that are higher in fiber, antioxidants, and are minimally processed. You may notice a common thread here! Very few nutrition camps (thank goodness) recommend you eat more processed, chemical-laden “junk” food. What you focus on may not matter as much as simply caring more about exactly what you are choosing to eat in the first place. Most dietary theories and nutrition camps recommend eating whole, minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods. This is by far one of the most important nutrition interventions of all, regardless of the protein, carbohydrate, and fat breakdowns.

3.        Elimination of nutrient deficiencies.

In keeping with the last point, the best nutritional advocates help us shift away from highly processed foods, which are often low in nutrients due to the fact many of them have been stripped out during processing, and toward more whole, minimally processed foods, which often have their nutrients intact. Thus, a properly designed diet of any kind eliminates some of the most common nutrient deficiencies (water, certain vitamins and minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids). This is so important. Many people often look, feel, and perform terribly when deficient in important nutrients. Often, within a few weeks of correcting these deficiencies, you can feel totally rejuvenated. Ironically, because the transformation is so dramatic, it often leads to the birth of diet zealots.

4.        Control of appetite and food intake.

When you become more aware of what you are eating, choosing more satisfying, higher quality foods, and eliminating nutrient deficiencies, you almost always end up eating less total food. You feel more satisfied, lose fat, gain lean muscle, and perform better. Thus, a properly designed diet of any kind eliminates some of the most common nutrient deficiencies. Notice that there is no need for calorie counting. Focusing on food awareness and food quality is usually enough for people to tune into their own hunger and appetite. This relates directly to calorie control without the annoying calorie math. It also means more sustainability since counting calories has a shelf-life. No one can or wants to do it forever.

5.       Promotion of regular movement and exercise.

When people start paying attention to their eating, they usually start thinking about physical activity too. In fact, many of the dietary perspectives recommend regular exercise. This is a positive step since research has shown that focusing on diet alone may actually interfere with establishing a consistent exercise routine. When you exercise regularly, with a mix of high and low intensity activity, you dramatically improve your ability to turn the food they eat — whatever food that is — into functional tissue (instead of extra fat).

You can now understand how different well-designed dietary philosophies — even when they seem oppositional and antagonistic on the surface — can all promote good health, body composition, and longevity.

Choosing a single dietary protocol makes no sense.

There is no one absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt best diet for everyone. Humans have evolved to do well under all sorts of dietary conditions.

Most popular diets — when done with care, attention, and a little coaching — help control appetite, improve food quality, promote exercise, and raise nutritional awareness.

Long-term nutrition habits trump diet plans and a set of rules. Always. I prefer a nutritional progression model (which builds habits intelligently and sustainably over time) versus asking people to follow this or that ‘diet’ which often means doing a full lifestyle overhaul on Day One.

Diet gurus are in this game to get attention, make a scene, and get on TV. This is a large part of why they try to force people into following strict and largely unnecessary nutrition rules, demonizing some foods, deifying others. It definitely sells books. It makes for good TV. I think we have all been witness to how things turn out when real people try to follow these rules in real life. The best coaches, on the other hand, are actually responsible for (and accountable to) their clients. They are paid to get results which totally changes the game. This is why I have a personal coaching process. One that would help you find the best diet for you. One that takes into account your small (but still important) physical and biochemical uniqueness.

Your best diet takes into account your lifestyle, including:

·         Family

·         Life demands

·         Stress level

·         Work situation

·         Income

·         Climate

·         Environmental pollutants

·         Food availability

·         Cooking knowledge and experience

·         Time availability

·         Physical activity

·         Social environment

It is not as clean and clear as ‘avoid meat’ or ‘eat like a caveman’. I do, however strongly believe it is the only sane and rational approach to what will support you in your goals. It also happens to be the only approach that actually works!

Michal Ofer