With countless diets to choose from, how do you know which are the best diets and work and which ones are pure BS?
It’s simple really. Just ask yourself these seven questions:
Question #1: Is It Sustainable?
The very first thing you should ask yourself before you follow a diet is whether or not you can stick with it forever.
Yes. You read that right. We said ‘forever’. You see, long-term results do not come from quick fixes like crazy fad diets (and ridiculously intense workouts). Instead, the best diets promote long-term positive lifestyle changes which lead to long-term results.
Obviously, a diet that’s too complicated, expensive, and/or restrictive would not help you make lasting lifestyle changes. Sure, they might help you see results fast, but the odds of you falling off the wagon later on are pretty high.
Unfortunately, when that happens, people tend to end up in much worse shape than when they started.
The goal, then, is to find an eating plan that’s perfectly aligned with your specific goals and needs to make it easier to stick with it long term.
Question #2: Does It Cut Out Specific Macronutrients Completely?
Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not bad for you—neither are healthy fats. And while we’re on the subject, protein is not the only macronutrient you need.
The key to getting fitter and healthier is getting the right mix of all these essential macronutrients for your specific goals and requirements-something the best diets will promote.
A marathon runner or basketball player, for instance, would need more carbs than, say, an office worker who sits at a desk for eight or more hours a day. But that doesn’t mean that the latter can do away with carbs altogether.
So, if you ever come across a diet that requires you to cut out specific macronutrients, run in the opposite direction.
The same goes for those that ask you to remove specific food groups from your diet. Unless you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires you to avoid certain foods, there’s really no reason to do so.
Question #3: Is It Scientifically Sound?
One of the most straightforward ways to spot a BS diet is to check if it goes against basic scientific principles.
The science of fat loss is fairly simple: calories in versus calories out. As long as you consume fewer calories than your body burns, you will keep losing fat. Consume more, and you’ll gain weight—mostly in the form of muscle if you work out. Keep them balanced, and you’ll stay the same weight.
Or course, the quality of the food you eat matters too because things like chips and fast food are designed to mess with your hormones and keep you coming back for more. The result? You not only burn fat less efficiently, but also constantly overeat.
So, what does all this mean?
If a diet does not care about portion sizes and the type of food you eat, then it’s obviously no good.
Question #4: Does It Support Your Lifestyle?
How many times per week do you work out? What type of training do you do? Does your work require you to sit all day or do you get to move a lot? Do you get hungry fast or can you go several hours without eating?
These are just some of the questions you need to consider in deciding on a meal plan to follow. As you’ve seen earlier, someone who sits at a desk all day would have different caloric requirements than someone who works out regularly.
The former would gain weight if they followed a meal plan designed for active individuals. The latter, on the other hand, would not be able to perform as well in the gym or in competition if they ate the way a sedentary individual should.
Long story short, if the diet you’re looking at does not perfectly line up with your specific goals and needs, then it won’t get you the results you’re looking for.
Question #5: Is It Trying to Sell You Something?
Is the specific diet you’re considering trying to sell you things like books, supplements, apps, coaching, or meal replacement snacks? Then it’s best to be more critical of it.
While not always the case, when there’s money to be made, it’s virtually impossible for the parties involved to be completely objective. There’s always the risk that getting you to buy would take precedence over getting you the results you’re looking for. After all, the longer you stay out of shape, the more money you’ll spend.
Question #6: Is It Backed By Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies?
Is the diet you’re considering based on any peer-reviewed studies? If it’s not, it’s probably no good, so you should conitinue to search for the best diets that will best suite you. On the other hand, if it is, then that’s a promising sign—but you still need to check the following:
1. Who authored the studies?
2. Are they in any way connected to a business?
3. Did the diet take just a single part of the study and change its context?
If the authors are connected to a business, then there’s a possibility that their objectivity was compromised at the time of the study, so their results might not be totally accurate. On the other hand, If the diet just took a section of a study and changed its context to better fit its design, then that’s a problem too.
Question #7: Does It Make You Feel Good?
By ‘feel good’, we don’t mean happy. What we’re saying is that your diet shouldn’t leave you feeling lethargic, irritable, and unable to focus. Instead, it should make you feel energetic, centered, and ready to take on the world.
It’s important to note, though, that what works for someone may not necessarily work for you. Our bodies are different. Some of us, for instance, need a lot of carbs to function. Some only require a couple of grams per day and would gain weight if they ate more.
So, experiment with different eating plans until you find something that works for you. Mix and match different ones if you have to. As long as you ask yourself all of these questions and experiment, you shouldn’t have any problems.
If you need more guidance, we’re here to help! Schedule a free one-on-one with one of our expert trainers to get the nutrition help you’re looking for.