This is the main question for anyone wanting to start their weight loss journey.
Where do I start?
What diet should I follow?
Do I need to spend the rest of my days counting every calorie?
Wow she/he looks great! What did they do to look like that?
Sound familiar? Most of us have all deliberated one or more of these questions in our lives. I know I have.
Over the past few decades, scientists have been researching the answer to this main question. What is THE best diet? Is it paleo, keto/low carb, low fat or intermittent fasting?
Humans love definitives and certainty, categories and time-scales. Therefore, we would all love to think it could be possible for there to be one awesome diet that just works and all you have to do is stick to it and there will be no more obesity and everyone will live long, fit, healthy, peachy-bummed lives.
It has taken me a few years, a degree and two qualifications involving this very subject to unequivocally and indubitably say there isn’t one. We are far too diverse in our habits, likes and dislikes, body types/genetics and lifestyles for just one diet to work. I admit it, it sucks. I would love it to be just one answer and one key diet for weight loss. I would be out of a job, but at least life would be that bit easier right?
Why do all these diets work?
They really are not all that different. The main similarity and the foundations of the nutrition pyramid is that they all restrict calories. They do this by cutting out a whole food group (e.g. Atkins or Keto i.e. low carb) or narrowing the window of time you “allow” yourself to eat (intermittent fasting). There isn’t anything magic about them. They cause a calorie deficit.
However, there are a few other things that they all do which you may not have thought of:
- They increase your AWARENESS. You become a lot more mindful of what food and drink you consume. Restricting something means you have to make sure you don’t eat it and therefore you have to really notice what you DO eat.
- They focus your attention on eating more nutrient dense whole foods and avoiding processed “junk food”. You start eating more fruit and veg, in other words fibre and vitamins, which fill you up and make you feel more satisfied. This controls your appetite and food cravings.
- You make better food choices at restaurants and avoid those dreaded office biscuits. You may drink less alcohol at events and parties. You’ve made this effort to stick to this restrictive diet so why ruin it all with booze and that hungover fry up?
- You feel better and have more energy. Alongside your diet change you decide to be more active, get yourself a PT or join a gym.
- All this is done without a single app or calorie-counting calculator - winning!
Essentially, any diet, no matter what it is, is a COMMITMENT. If you commit yourself to a certain method of eating or drinking which involves better food choices and calorie restriction, it will work. The crux of it all, however, is what you can MAINTAIN. What is a long term approach and something you can sustain for life? Something that you can enjoy and live by.
The best coaches are open-minded to all methods of weight loss. Old and new. Just because something worked really well for one person will not always be the same for another. Even if you have had great success with one diet in your own past, it does not mean that that same diet will work for you again, in a different set of circumstances and time in your life.
The best coaches are responsible and can accept not always being right (hard!) and not worship one diet philosophy. The best approach is a habit-based one and not diet alone. I have discussed the key to habit changes and long term approaches in a previous post. What and how you eat and drink is not the be-all and end-all. You need to look at your whole lifestyle and look at what things can change and what can’t. Start small and easy and address changes one step at a time.
I work together with my clients to find out what will work best for them and them alone. Not what worked for Sheila next door or that air-brushed, insanely hot instagram influencer who is getting paid the big bucks to promote a certain tea, shake or lollipop.
Family, career, budget, time, likes/dislikes, knowledge and ethical beliefs are all taken into account and respected when considering the best process for each of my clients.
What is the best diet?
The one that works for you and the one that you can stick to and be happy with. It may take a few tries to find it, but if you want it and have the right support and the consistency, you’ll get it.