Believe it or not, there is a right diet. There is one diet that is better than the rest for someone looking for longevity and decreased risk of all mortality. Before you calling me a hypocrite, yes I did post another blog on The 5 Reasons Diets Suck and basically saying diets are making you fail. However, this one is more of a diet in the sense of it’s a way of eating and living, not a short term fad diet.
Speaking of fad diets, I’ve seen them all, and tried them all. I’ve been high carb, high protein, low fat, high fat, low carb, keto, paleo, calorie counting, carb cycling, intermittent fasting, IIFYM, and everything in between! I’ve seen them all come, and I’ve seen them all go…and that really is the key sign here.
Any of these diets that tend to pop up every few years and then fade away as something else takes the spotlight, they’re fads, they’re temporary crazes fueled and fed by marketing companies as the NEXT BEST THING!
You see, consistent, balanced nutrition doesn’t sell. It’s not sensational enough. There’s no angle to promote. However, remove carbs from your diet and all of a sudden you’ve got people believing this is the change they were looking for, the answer to their prayers! It’s easy to promote and market these diets that skew one way or another, and they will often work for a while too. You’ll lose weight and feel great for a few weeks or a couple months, and then you end up right back where you were. Sound familiar??
Think about it, if these diets were the answer, if they were sustainable, if they were what your body really needed, wouldn’t more people be sticking to them and not jumping on and off different diets every so often? I can tell you from my own experience I’ve never been able to stick to keto long term, and knowing what I know now, I’m glad. My body knew best it seems and the carbs would always come back, usually in the form of an insatiable binge monster, followed by guilt/shame, jumping back to the diet, and the cycle resumes.
Before you get all up in arms about how me saying there is ONE best diet is contradictory to what I preach as an Integrative Health Practitioner, let me explain. You see, there are certain elements of diet and nutrition that have stood the test of time.
They haven’t popped up and faded away over and over again.
They haven’t been the ‘popular’ thing to do at the time.
They haven’t been the newest diet innovation to finally get you shredded/lean/abs.
They are the FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES of how one should eat for overall health, and they’ve always been there, in all major cultures, in all major religions, throughout time. These days, it bears most resemblance to what we call THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET.
From the foundation of The Mediterranean Diet, we can then find room for bio-individuality, room for tweaks depending on body type and personal goals. However, if your goal is to be as healthy as you can, there is little doubt about it, the principles of The Mediterranean Diet are what you should follow. So lets take a look at this One Diet To Rule Them All…
What does this typically look like:
1-3 Tbsp per meal
3 for weight gain, 1 for weight loss, and you guessed it, 2 for weight maintenance.
2-3 meals per day
Confused about which fats are good or bad? Click on over to my post on the best and worst fats to be eating.
4-8 oz (100 - 250 g) animal protein a day
Protein at each meal. Personally I stick to the 4-8 oz or equivalent for each meal. I have my protein powder in my smoothie in the morning, about a cup of vegan protein for lunch, and then my serving of animal protein for dinner.
Your protein portion should be a garnish on your plate.
Click through on this LINK for a controversial podcast from my mentor on meat as a protein source and how much you should be consuming.
“40-70%?!! I’ll become a beached whale,” I hear you shout. As mentioned earlier, marketing and popular media has demonised carbs and made them the enemy of anyone looking to lose weight. Sure, if you eat 40-70% chips, cookies, ice cream, donuts, pasta, bread, muffins and bagels... the carbs most people think of, then yeh, you just may embody that beached whale.
You can have your carbs AND enjoy successful weight loss/management, and you should! People forget that vegetables can be carbs too. Sure, people know about potato and sweet potato being carbs, but broccoli is a carb too, and green beans, and carrots, and a host of other healthy vegetables that you can fill 40-70% of your plate with.
If you’re someone who struggles to put on weight, or loses weight the instant your nutrition wavers (the classic ectomorph), you’re going to want to be at the higher end of the range for carbs and include more starchy carbs like rice and sweet potato
If you’re someone who puts on weight at the second you look at a chocolate bar (endomorph), you’re going to want to be at the lower end of the range and stick to mostly vegetables for your carbohydrates. Minimise starchy carbs and stick to your fibrous and healthy vegetables.
Let’s Talk Fruit and Veg.
Total 60-80% plant based. Once again, look at your plate... is 60-80% plant based?
7-9 cups fruit & veg. per day. You don’t need to get a measuring cup and measure these out. I think of a cup as about the size of fist.
2-3 cups vegetables per meal
If you tend towards being more stressed or anxious, you want to make sure the majority of your vegetables are well cooked. Stress and anxiety greatly affects digestive strength and raw vegetables are going to ask a lot of your gut. Use the fork test... yes that’s its official name. If you can’t push down on you’re vegetables and cut/break/squash them with your fork, you should be cooking them more.
1-4 cups fruit per day. Lower end for weight loss and endomorphs, higher end for weight gain and ectomorphs. I get most of my fruit in my morning smoothie, and then sometimes as my mid afternoon snack.
As a Plate/Meal
3/4 plate vegetables (fits both 60-80% plant based and 40-70% carbs)
Serving of protein as a garnish (4-8 oz or 100-250 g plant or animal protein)
1-3 Tbsp fat to complete (avo, olive oil dressing, pumpkin seeds etc)
Snacks - Fruit (1-2 cups per serving)
Have a look back over the bolded headings above... EATING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED! Nor should it be. Heck, you could just use the last Plate/Meal template and forget everything else and you’d be golden. A wise man named Michael Pollan once said:
“Eat plants. Mostly Green. Not too much.”
It’s so simple. It’s 4 Your Health.