I probably get this question once a day: “What type of diet should I follow?” The answer: The one you can imagine following for 10+ years while achieving your health goals.
I know that answer is super vague, but there is a reason we have all heard success stories about NUMEROUS diets where friends/family have shed NUMEROUS pounds. People have lost weight on a cookie diet, the Subway diet, Atkins, Paleo, Zone, calorie restriction, high fat, high carb, IIFYM… the list goes on and on. So who is right and who is wrong? There really isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to dieting.
GENETICS PLAY A ROLE
Here’s why: everybody and every BODY is different. What might work for me might completely work against someone else. While the saying “a calorie is a calorie” may be true, it is also true that the makeup of certain foods can affect each person differently based upon their genetics. For example: I have a friend who can literally eat whatever she wants and not gain a single pound. In fact, she struggles to keep on weight. I’m sure we’ve all encountered people like this….(note: yeah Im jealous). Then, I have other friends and clients that if they eat too much of a certain food group they will have an intolerance and start to hold weight, become bloated, tired, and feel lethargic
So what do you do if you want to incorporate a balanced diet in your life? It all depends upon your goals. Someone who wants to lose weight will undoubtedly have some form of calorie restriction. Someone who wants to gain weight/muscle will have to have some form of calorie surplus. What makes up those diets completely depends upon your goals, body type and your genetics.
YOU CAN STILL CONTROL YOUR HEALTH!!!
In a recent March 2015 study, scientists found that while higher dietary energy intake can lead to obesity the elephant in the room also points to genetic predisposition. So does that mean if obesity runs in your family you are destined to be obese? Not necessarily, but it does mean that a more personalized approach should be followed. If you are trying to shed weight and you try a specific diet for a few weeks and you’re noticing absolutely no change, start to dig into your diet some more. Are you eating a high carb diet? Maybe try lowering your carbs and increasing your fats. Are you on a super restricted diet? Maybe add some flexibility into your life by eating a variety of foods.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
The last point I want to bring up is consistency. As I first mentioned, find a diet that you can imagine following for your whole life. If you start to associate foods as “good” and “bad” you could end up binge eating all the foods you have restricted from your life and feeling miserable when you go out to dinner with friends. Moderation and diet go a lot further when you can incorporate some of your favorite foods while also staying in line with your overall goals. Flexible dieting has also been shown to help diminish obsessing over your body, bad moods, and eating disorders.
Overall, experiment what works for you and don’t throw in the towel if you aren’t seeing results right away. Don’t feel pressured to eat just chicken and broccoli (although those are good foods to add into your diet). Don’t feel guilty when you treat yourself to an ice cream cone. Can you eat bread, pizza, burgers, and throw back a beer? Sure, if you don’t have adverse affects from those foods or have something like a carb and sugar intolerance. It’s important to submerge yourself with balance and you will undoubtedly find balance in your life.
**I am a certified sports nutritionist. Contact me if you are interested in a customized nutrition plan**