Balanced Diet
Nutrition

What Diet Is Best for You?

When it comes to the best diet plan, there is no absence of recommendations. Websites, magazines, books and billboards swear by their methods and say that their diet is best for you.

Some say removing carbohydrates or fats from the diet is the best way to achieve your fitness goal. Others claim that you should be adding a special supplement of theirs in your diet to see the desired change in your body composition.

In other words, if you ever wondered what diet is best for you, then this is the right place for you!

This article covers the most popular diets, describing their pros and cons. Moreover, the article explains why most diets don’t work. Above all, it gives advice on how you should go about finding the best diet for you. In case of figuring out how to make a meal plan on your own, isn’t something for you.

6 Most Popular Diets

Some diets make you eliminate specific food groups or macronutrient sources. Others limit you in time you should eat or make you follow specific guidelines.

Here are the 6 most popular diets to this day.

Plant-Based Diets

The most popular versions of plant-based diets are vegetarian, vegan and raw food diets, all three eliminating animal products from consumption. A more flexible variation of a plant-based diet is flexitarian, which allows including some animal products into your diet plan.

However, when following a vegan diet all animal products should be avoided entirely, including eggs and dairy, all meats, poultry, and fish. Additionally, all products that contain albumin, casein, gelatin, honey and whey, should also be excluded.

Plant-based diet foods to eat:

  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Legumes
  • Tubers
  • Nuts & Seeds

Plant-based diet foods to limit or avoid entirely:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Sweets
  • Honey

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Plant-Based Diet

PROS OF A PLANT-BASED DIET

CONS OF A PLANT-BASED DIET

  • Risk of being deficient in nutrients
  • Requires careful planning, reading labels and discipline
  • Low amount of protein
  • Restricts almost all animal products

Low-Carb Diets

The most popular versions of low-fat diets are the Atkins diet, ketogenic diet or “keto diet” for short, and a low-carb, high-fat diet, “LCHF diet” for short. All of these diets reduce carbohydrates while being high in dietary fat.

Some diet variations reduce the total amount of carbs more than others. For instance, in a low-fat- high-fat diet you could have 10 – 30% of calories coming from carbs. However, on a keto diet, you should stay in the range of 5 – 10%.

Low-carb diet foods to eat:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Dairy (High-fat)
  • Healthy Fats & Oils
  • Some Non-starchy Fruits & Vegetables

Low-carb diet foods to avoid:

  • Whole Grains & Refined Grains
  • Starchy Fruits & Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Sweetened Yogurt
  • Honey & Sugar
  • Juice

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Low-Carb Diet

PROS OF A LOW-CARB DIET

CONS OF A LOW-CARB DIET

  • Risk of a digestive upset, because of a low fiber intake
  • Not be effective when trying to build muscle mass
  • Restricts almost all carbohydrates

Low-Fat Diets

Contrary to low-carb diets, low-fat diets involve restricting your daily fat intake, since it is the most calorically dense macronutrient. Most low-fat diets aim to have no more than 15% of calories coming from fat. However, there is a more drastic approach like an ultra low-fat diet which consists of less than 10% of calories from fat.

Low-fat diet foods to eat:

  • Whole Grains
  • Legumes
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Dairy (Low-fat)
  • Lean Meats
  • White Fish

Low-fat diet foods to avoid:

  • Pastry (High-fat)
  • Dairy (High-fat)
  • Meats (High-fat)
  • Poultry (With skin)
  • Whole Eggs & Egg Yolks
  • Oils & Butters

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Low-Fat Diet

PROS OF A LOW-FAT DIET

CONS OF A LOW-FAT DIET

  • Risk of having problems with the hormone production
  • Elevated risk of poor nutrient absorption
  • Tend to be low in protein
  • Restricts almost most fat sources

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet relies on foods that are common among people from countries like Greece and Italy. It’s believed that people from those regions are generally healthier than an average American. Because of that, the Mediterranean diet is considered a healthy way of eating.

Mediterranean diet foods to eat:

  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Legumes
  • Tubers
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Olive Oil

Mediterranean diet foods to avoid:

  • Refined Grains
  • Refined Oils
  • Processed Foods
  • Refined Sugars
  • Red Meat

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Mediterranean Diet

PROS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET

CONS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET

  • More difficult to stay in a calorie deficit
  • Restricts most animal products
  • Restricts all processed and packaged foods

The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet supports the way hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago. It’s considered that back then people didn’t have such problem as obesity, had less chronic diseases and were much healthier overall.

That is why the followers of the paleo diet try to replicate the way out human ancestors ate and consume only whole foods.

Paleo diet foods to eat:

  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Healthy Fats & Oils
  • Tubers
  • Nuts & Seeds

Paleo diet foods to avoid:

  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Processed Foods
  • Refined Sugars
  • Soft Drinks
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Trans Fats

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Paleo Diet

PROS OF THE PALEO DIET

  • Beneficial for losing fat while keeping muscle
  • More filling than other diets like the Mediterranean diet
  • A high protein content

CONS OF THE PALEO DIET

  • Restricts multiple nutritious food groups (grains, dairy, legumes)
  • Restricts all processed and packaged foods

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an approach to eating where no foods are being restricted, instead, it restricts the time when you can eat. Simply put, it’s a dietary method which interchanges the periods of fasting and eating.

4 Types of Intermittent Fasting as a Diet Approach

There are many different forms of intermittent fasting, the most popular one is 16/8, meaning that you eat for 8 hours and don’t eat anything for 16 hours. During the periods of fasting, you are allowed to drink beverages that contain zero or very minimal number of calories. For instance, water, tea and black coffee without any additives, or even diet sodas and diet energy drinks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting

PROS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

CONS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

  • Drastic decreases in blood sugar levels
  • Restrict the time of the day you can eat
  • Risk of developing a binge eating mentality
  • Flexibility aspect can be abused

Why Most Diets Don’t Work?

The reason why most diets don’t work for so many people is that they cannot stick to them. Thus, keep jumping from one diet to another, even though it’s proven that all diets “work” if a person follows it.

You see, all weight-loss diets are made to put you in a calorie deficit if followed properly. If a calorie deficit is present, the weight will be lost, as simple as that. Yet, most individuals struggle with sticking to those kinds of diets because the diets are not personalized to an individual following it.

Of course, there are exceptions, where some individuals thrive following a certain diet and stick to it easily. But, generally speaking, there is no such thing as a one size fits all diet plan that will work for everybody.

Additionally, there are more reasons why most popular diets cannot be a successful long-term approach.

Missing Other Important Nutrients

Commonly, diets which restrict from eating the whole food groups tend to lack various nutrients. In fact, plant-based diet followers have an increased risk of having nutrient deficiencies. The most common deficiencies are in Iron, Iodine, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium.

Common Nutrient Deficiencies and Their Symptoms If Following an Unbalanced Diet

To avoid such deficiencies, it’s advised to supplement with those nutrients, eat foods that have high amounts of those nutrients or are fortified with them. However, plant-based diet followers are not the only ones that may lack in particular nutrients, it may happen to everyone. Yet, vegetarians and vegans have a higher risk of being nutrient deficient.

Be aware that any diet that restricts a whole food group or limits a specific macronutrient may lead to some sort of nutrient deficiency. If you follow one of the diets that do that, you want to plan carefully, consume a variety of allowed foods and supplement with other nutrients if necessary.

Viewed as Temporary

Most people who jump on a trending diet to lose some fat for the summer holiday, wedding or another special occasion, see the diet as a temporary thing. Shortly after the diet is over they tend to come back to their usual eating habits. Hence, there is a tendency of so many individuals gaining all the lost weight back when they “finish” dieting.

To combat such behaviour, the word “diet” should be perceived as the group of food and drinks typically, eaten and drunk by a person. Not just a short-term weight loss solution. Therefore, the best diet for you is the one that you can stick to forever. That is, eating foods that you enjoy, including some treats and chasing your fitness goals.

Inappropriate Calorie Intake

Furthermore, most diets can be harmful since they tend to be overly restrictive in terms of the calorie deficit. 20 – 25% calorie reduction is advised to ensure that the weight loss happens at an appropriate rate.

Not all commercial diets take into consideration your personal daily calorie needs, which can make them under-consume drastically. The opposite can happen to a person who is inactive and requires a low amount of calories every day.

A similar thing can be said about diet plans that are meant for gaining weight and building muscle mass. For some, the prescribed amount of foods from those diets can be just perfect. While for others it can be too much food, which would result in gaining a lot of fat.

Contrary, for highly active individuals with a high metabolism, the set amount of food can be too little. As a result, the weight can be lost, even though the goal was to gain it.

The bottom line is that you cannot take some diet plan straight from the Internet and follow it, simply because we all burn different amounts of calories daily. This requires that every diet plan is aligned with individuals calorie needs.

Appropriate Calorie Intake Range For Your Diet

Unsustainable With the Lifestyle

Commonly, people struggle to sustain their diet with the lifestyle they have. The chances are high that you won’t stick to the diet if you cannot eat the prescribed number of meals due to your work, for example.

Also, some people find it hard to stick to the diet if they are constantly on the go and aren’t able to cook up some meals at home beforehand. Or, if an individual is used to having a meal off the diet plan with his/her friends and family, but the plan doesn’t allow that.

For this reason, the right diet for you should take into account your lifestyle, including:

  • Whether or not you prefer having only 2, 3, 4, 5 or even 6 meals a day.
  • The time when you usually wake-up, and when you do your workouts.
  • You can always cook your meals at home or you are mostly on the go.
  • If you like to include some meals that are off the plan or less healthy treats.
  • Etc.

Choosing a Diet That’s Best for You

When choosing the best diet plan, you have to take into consideration multiple aspects that could make you stick to or fall out of the diet. These are the 7 questions you should ask yourself when choosing a diet plan.

1. Do You Have Specific Personal Needs?

First of all, you should ask yourself if you have any health conditions that would require to exclude specific foods or include some. For instance, heart disease, diabetes or specific food allergies. You should also take into consideration your cultural beliefs, as well as ethical requirements, and select the food that aligns accordingly.

2. Is Your Diet Balanced and Optimized to Your Goals?

The next important step is to ensure that your diet is balanced. In other words, it does not lack a specific macronutrient like protein, carbohydrates or fats, and fiber.

Additionally, you want your diet to be optimised to your fitness goals in terms of calories. Calorie deficit has to be achieved when following a cutting diet for fat loss. Contrary, a small calorie surplus is needed when following a lean bulking diet plan for building muscle.

3. Is It Aligned With Your Eating Style?

Your diet plan must align with the way you prefer to eat. It should encourage you to eat an appropriate number of meals that fit your lifestyle. Furthermore, the diet should accommodate your habits of eating out, and have the possibility of having meals “off-plan”. Or, have simple snack options if you are constantly on the go.

4. Does Your Diet Include a Variety of Foods?

Your diet should be full of a variety of foods: different sources of proteins, carbs and fats. This way you will not get bored of eating the same kind of foods every single day, as well as minimize the risk of having nutrient deficiencies. If you are out of ideas of what kind of food options you could have, check out my healthy food source list for some inspiration.

5. Is Your Diet Full of the Foods You Like?

Your diet plan should mostly include foods you like to eat, this way you can stick to your diet in the long-term.

It doesn’t mean that you should only eat pizza, ice-cream, cookies and cereal…

By saying – “include foods you like to eat”, I mean eating mostly whole, minimally processed food sources 80 – 90% of the time. For the rest 10 – 20% of the time including less healthy options, like ice cream or a slice of pizza.

6. Does the Diet Plan Fit Your Budget?

You should make sure that the diet you chose to follow fits your budget. If the diet prescribes you to eat lobsters, oysters, truffles, Wagyu beef and caviar, the chances are slim that you will stick to it.

Okay, it might be too extreme. However, following a diet that requires only organic and grass-fed products, can be challenging for some people. For this reason, you should take into consideration your budget when choosing a diet for you.

7. Do You Prefer a More Structured or Flexible Approach?

Subsequently, you should decide whether you prefer a more structured or flexible approach when following your diet. This could mean that you eat according to a strict meal plan where all meals are written out for you, including the specific foods and the amounts of each.

On the other hand, you can also go about your eating in a more flexible manner. For example, you can eat anything you want, as long as it all fits in your daily calorie and macro needs.

Key Takeaways of the Best Diet for You

Nowadays, there are a lot of diet plans out there, the most popular ones are:

  • The Plant-Based Diets
  • The Low-Carb Diets
  • The Low-Fat Diets
  • The Mediterranean Diet
  • The Paleo Diet
  • Intermittent Fasting

These diets tend to reduce a specific food group, or even time period when you could eat. However, the problem is that those diets are that they are not personalized to an individual following it.

Most commercial diets aren’t the best approach to an average person, for the following reasons:

  • Missing other important nutrients
  • Require eating inappropriate calorie intake
  • Viewed as temporary
  • Are unsustainable with the lifestyle

There’s no such thing as a one size fits all diet plan. So, the questions you should ask yourself when choosing a diet are the following:

  1. Do you have specific personal needs?
  2. Is your diet balanced and optimized to your goals?
  3. Is it aligned with your eating style?
  4. Does your diet include a variety of foods?
  5. Is your diet full of the foods you like?
  6. Does the diet plan fit your budget?
  7. Do you prefer a more structured or flexible approach?

I hope that this article helped you learn how to find the best diet plan for you.

You can contact me if you have more questions about what is the best diet for you or any other fitness topic!

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