What is the best overall diet?
I’m asked again and again and again about trendy diets like Keto, Paleo, Intermittent fasting etc. My answer always starts with a question: “why do you want to do that?” The answer is almost always “my friend did it and lost a ton of weight.” When I follow up with more questions like: “how long did it work for them” and “what happens when they decided to go off of the diet,” the answer usually circles back to how they regained some or all of the weight, or felt it was way too restrictive to stay on consistently.
Unless your friend is a body-builder, athlete, or has a neurological disease like MS or Alzheimer’s, strict therapeutic diets like the Ketogenic are almost impossible for most of us, especially in the long term. Of course, people are very attracted to any diet that promises quick weight loss. Granted, there may be some quick initial weight loss on the front end of these diets, but the problem arises when there is no exit strategy for going “off” of the diet. Not to mention that we are all metabolically unique and what works for one person, may not work well for another.
My answer for the best overall diet, and the research always points to it again and again, is a Mediterranean-style diet. More than a diet, this “lifestyle” provides a framework for not only whole foods, but also stresses the importance of healthy activities, exercise, mindful eating, managing stress constructively and finding pleasure in life. It’s a very holistic approach and considers the person as a whole, because we are not just the food we eat, but a sum total of all of our experiences.
Diets like Keto and Paleo can provide a good kick-start or induction phase to help reduce cravings and get blood sugar under control, but can be difficult for the long term for most people. Restrictive diets, if not therapeutically necessary, can place a lot of stress on an already busy schedule and create confusion about what a "healthy" diet is. A Mediterranean diet provides a lot of flexibility in food choices and can accommodate a wide-variety of tastes and preferences.
If you have extra weight and metabolic issues, it likely took months or years to accumulate. It will likely take some time and consistency to lose the weight steadily and keep it off. The aim of a great nutrition-based diet is for total health and wellbeing. In the end it's not a "diet" but a way of eating for a lifetime. Weight loss, healthy body composition and improved metabolism are positive side effects of eating the best foods over a long period of time. Slow and steady always wins the race!
Want to know more? Let’s talk and create a custom plan to help you look and feel great this new year. Contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.