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In a world of conflicting information, what is the best diet to follow?

Nowadays it seems like everywhere you look a new diet is being touted as the best one for you. This can be confusing as you have so much contrasting information presented to you, it can make the decision on what you should eat, overwhelming.

You have one friend who has started ‘keto’ and dropped 10kgs effortlessly and you have another friend who has gone vegan and has never felt better, yet the thought of removing meat or carbohydrates from your diet makes you want to weep into your roast chicken sandwich.

So, what is the perfect diet for everyone?

The truth? It doesn’t exist. Or at least not in the way you have been searching for.

There is no one perfect diet for everyone, just like there is not one perfect diet for someone for life. What might be the perfect diet for you now, may not be next week, or next year even.

Imagine the diversity between individuals and you can start to see why a cookie cutter approach to nutrition just doesn’t work.

  • Body type: some people may be overweight with a great lipid profile, while others could be a stick figure with triglyceride levels through the roof.
  • Activity levels: You have athletes and you have sedentary office workers
  • Stress levels
  • Budget: some people can afford all the paleo cereal and cacao nibs they can get their hands on, whilst others are strictly Pak’n Save shoppers.
  • Ethical practices: some people don’t eat meat for religious or ethical reasons, regardless of health views.
  • Time: some have the time to prep and plan every meal whereas some have no choice but to rely on Uber eats multiple times per week.

The most important element of a diet?

ADHERANCE.

Whether people like it or not, caloric restriction is the fundamental basis of any successful weight loss regime, and therefore the best diet for any one individual is a diet that they can adhere to. Whether that be vegan, fasting, LCHF or low-fat, the best diet is one you can stick with to achieve the weight loss goals that you desire.

Take bread for example, one of the most restricted foods in popular diets. One study looked at two nutrition strategies (with or without bread) designed to promote weight loss. The results? The weight loss diet that included bread saw greater results due to greater compliance. Ergo adherence was a major factor in the results of the diet.

Another study compared low-fat, low-carb, meal replacement, intermittent fasting and Mediterranean approaches in order to seek the best diet for all. The results found that Low-fat diets tended to improve LDL cholesterol the most, while lower-carbohydrate diets improved triglycerides and HDL cholesterol. However, differences between diets were marginal.

The study concluded that “Optimizing adherence is the most important factor for weight loss success, and this is enhanced by regular professional contact and supportive behavioral change programs.”

 While it is human nature to try and seek that one diet that solves everything, unfortunately one simply does not exist. There is no one perfect macronutrient distribution for weight management, just as there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy to suit everyone. The single most important factor in a successful diet is that it is sustainable long term.

So if you think you are much more likely to be able to stick to a plan if you include your daily two squares of chocolate or your toast in the morning then that is going to be much better long term, then trying to restrict yourself leading to bingeing when you ‘fall off the wagon’.

Article supplied by Emily White.

Emily White (BSc) is an Auckland based Nutritionist who specialises in breaking down diet culture, and finding peace with food and your body. She consults with an holistic, non-restrictive approach and allows her clients to tune into their own inner wisdom.