Which Diet is Best for a Healthy Lifestyle + My 6 TOP TIPS on Optimal Nutrition
Hey stunner ;)
I’ve been asked to give some insight on the best diet for a healthy lifestyle.
This is a common query and rightly so with the incredible amount of options and information out there claiming that this diet is the best path to follow.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most trending diets at the moment:
- Keto- promises fast weight loss by “simply” cutting carbs and focusing on a diet high in (healthy) fats.
- Vegan- a clean and sustainable plant-based diet (if actually eating whole foods, not processed junk).
- Low-fat- reduces fat intake because fat is what you’re trying to get rid of, right? ;)
- Low-carb- reduces carbohydrates because carbs make you fat, (mm, no).
- Intermittent Fasting (IF)- doesn’t cut calories but rather focuses on the timing of meals and fasting for a predetermined amount of time with various effective options available.
Ok, so let’s look at these a little more in-depth.
The philosophy behind the infamous keto diet is this:
Your body’s main fuel source is carbohydrates, secondary is fat, and as a very last resort, protein comes in third. Carbohydrates are necessary for your body to function optimally and correctly. Anyone looking to build muscle must consume at least some carbohydrates. Also, your brain utilizes about 1/3 of the carbs you consume.
By eliminating the body’s main fuel source, it is forced to utilize the secondary source- fat. This is called ketosis and, yes, it does work, BUT, and a really big but- this only works for a period of time before your body inevitably adapts and says- “hey, where the heck are my carbs?? Am I ever going to get anymore!? Maybe not….better store this fat since it’s all I’m being given”.
And this is what eventually happens to every ketoer. They lose loads of weight, the progress is incredible!!! Then, they hit a plateau and, finally, they gain it back; sometimes, even more than they lost.
Additionally, this throws your metabolism out of whack and it can take years to correct it.
A vegan diet is one that completely eliminates animal products. For some people, this works wonders! It’s, generally speaking, an alkaline diet and (if done correctly) can provide a great micro and macronutrient profile.
Some folks, on the other hand, don’t do so well on this diet for a number of reasons.
For instance, if you’re on a low FODMAPS diet, a vegan diet can be challenging as many of the protein sources are high FODMAPS (legumes, beans, etc). Additionally, soy products, particularly in the USA, are highly processed and GMO making them significantly less healthy than they otherwise would be.
Veganism is a choice for many for various reasons from animal rights to simply feeling much better without consuming animal products. However, I know a carnivore who is very healthy and fit as well, so it would be wrong to say this is the diet to follow (for the context of this article).
Low-fat diets have their place. Low-fat products, less so. Anything claiming to be “low-fat” is almost definitely high in carbohydrates and full of fillers, thickeners, chemicals, etc.
As a general rule, I tell all of my clients to skip the low-fat BS and get the real stuff.
Also, healthy fats are absolutely necessary for your brain and cognitive function, healthy nails, hair, and skin, and more. If you’re a cardio person, your body burns mostly fat so cutting these too much would obviously be a bad idea.
If you’re looking to build muscle, a diet lower in fats and higher in carbs is ideal (for a period).
Low-carb is fine if you’re not looking to build too much, if any, muscle, you want to maintain your physique, and reduce water weight. Carbohydrates in and of themselves do not make you fat. Rather, the wrong carbs can and almost certainly will. As well, carbs hold 3 parts water to 1 part carbohydrate, so, no- they’re not making you fat. You’re simply retaining water.
You can reduce carb intake for a couple of days and drop the excess water weight. This needs to be done carefully because if you reduce your calorie intake too much, you’ll lose your lean muscle! Rather, increase your healthy fats and protein as you decrease your carbs.
IF has several benefits including giving your digestive system a break, gives you the benefits of keto without cutting out the carbs and messing up your metabolism, and makes you more mindful about what you’re putting in your body.
The most popular approach is the 16:8 (fast for 16 hours and eat for 8). However, there are many options to choose from and you could easily find one that fits your personal needs best.
After about 12-13 hours of fasting, your body enters ketosis (fat-burning mode). Ideally, you’ll stay in this mode for a period and then resume eating all necessary macros. Thus, you burn fat, restore muscle glycogen, preserve lean muscle mass, and you don’t starve your ass off or experience the fatigue, irritability, reduced ability to focus and process, etc you would experience on other macro-restrictive diets.
The answer is: there is no one answer.
Everyone’s bodies are so uniquely individual that no one diet works for everyone.
There are methods for combining various approaches to achieve your desired outcome and this comes with a lot of trial and error, education, and proper nutrition guidance based on your goals and dietary needs.
You needn’t overwhelm yourself with all of the diets and misinformation out there.
Simply follow these tips for healthy lifestyle nutrition and your body will thank you:
- Eliminate processed foods as much as possible- shop organic foods that grow.
- Eliminate refined sugar as much as possible- opt for a natural alternative.
- Eat lots of bright and deeply colored organic produce- these are the most nutrient-dense (have lots of nutrients).
- Make sure you’re eating enough- many folks trying to lose weight eat way too little and this backfires with weight gain, a slower metabolism, and a lower BMR.
- Eat more protein- if you don’t eat enough (1.8-2.7g/kg body weight) your body will cannibalize your muscle tissue (those are your calorie burners as well as what literally moves your skeleton so- eat your protein!)
- Don’t stress over each calorie. Have treats (not cheats) and don’t feel guilty about it. This is your LIFE, it shouldn’t be torturous. When you have well-earned treats, keep it in moderation (ie, not the whole tub of ice cream or half of the cake).
I promise, if you follow these 6 rules of healthy nutrition, you will see results and you will feel SO much better!
If you have some specific goals you’re looking to reach, let me know and we can chat about how to get you results!
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know! If you implement any or all of these tips, let me know how you go!
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