The BEST DIET plan for EVERYBODY.
Food is one of the greatest gifts given to us. To fuel our bodies with something that is appetizing and pleasing to our taste buds is the work of a higher power indeed.
All food has nutrients. The amount and type may differ, but every single piece of food has some kind of nutritional value.
The way we organize what and exactly we consume to receive this nutrition is always up for debate. Each month, every season, it can feel as if there is always some new research around a particular nutrition topic that changes the landscape of how food and wellness is perceived.
It’s because of this, that being “healthy” sometimes can seem so daunting. With information overload prevalent, it’s not wonder why many in the public, even ones who may claim to “eat healthy” can have such a hard time with solidifying a consistent nutrition strategy that works.
This has been a topic that’s been especially constant in my mind since the turn of the new year. (This is the part we I get somewhat controversial so if you’re not ready, buckle up your thoughts and opinions for the coming ride. I’ll be giving my opinion on some points and providing science-based research on others. Please excuse some sarcasm laid in the text as well if you notice it).
I was asked for my opinion on a recent article published last month that ranked the TOP 40 Diets of 2018 in the world right now. Here’s the link below.
Keep in mind this is published by "ABC News" so it's reach is in the millions.
To paraphrase the main points, two of the popular so called “fad” diets right now, the Ketogenic and Whole30 Diet, were next to ranking dead last out of the 40 diets.
Now, the primary reasons these were given such low grades were due to the lack of scientific research around them, how they (greatly) restrict particular food groups, and the commitment needed to best utilize them.
Now this is sound logic. However, let’s start to climb the list and observe what some other higher ranked diets consist of.
Tied for #32 we have the popular “Paleo Diet”. Popularized by those who are devout Crossfit enthusiasts, this diet is heavily criticized for eliminating the grain and dairy food groups form it. But If you look at the “Pros”, it’s “Carnivore Approved, and Low Sodium”. Not that it doesn't encourage other whole food sources of course.
Let’s look at this quote: “Slapping the diet with multiple low scores, the experts couldn’t accept that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded, making it hard for dieters to get all the nutrients they need. It’s one of the few diets that experts actually considered somewhat unsafe and only somewhat complete nutritionally.”
Although, almond, coconut, rice, hemp, and soy milk all have equal or greater sources of calcium than milk which is its main benefit and lower sugar, it’s fascinating that diets that eliminate dairy are always criticized. Dairy catches a lot of criticism, but, as written by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
- Overall, about 75 percent of the world's population, including 25 percent of those in the U.S., lose their lactase enzymes after weaning. The recognition of this fact has resulted in an important change in terminology: Those who could not digest milk were once called "lactose intolerant" or "lactase deficient." They are now regarded as normal, while those adults who retain the enzymes allowing them to digest milk are called "lactase persistent."
- (the link for reference) http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/what-is-lactose-intolerance
Grains have been around for centuries and less than 2% of the population in America has an official gluten allergy. However, we were told for YEARS by the food pyramid to eat majority breads, grains, and starchy carbohydrates above vegetables, fruits, and lean protein sources which has been since proven to be the completely wrong way of organizing a fat loss friendly nutrition plan.
People can be completely healthy not eating some food groups, but that’s neither here nor there, back to the list!
Coming in tied for #26, we have the “Abs Diet”. Yes, you heard that right, the F**king Abs Diet. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a diet more suitable for a late-night infomercial accompanied by a blender and a smoothie.
What is the first “Con” listed? “LACK OF SPECIFIC RESEARCH”. That’s funny, because I thought that was the cause for immediate condemnation and a very low score?. It preaches the use of “Powerfoods” such as almonds, beans, eggs, “instant oats” (because everything with the word instant in front of it should be considered healthy instead of convenient).
Unfortunately, there is NO SUCH THING as a “SUPERFOOD” or “POWERFOOD”. Unless we’re talking about magic Senzu beans that only exist in Dragon Ball Z, there’s only such thing as FOOD. You could consider almost every type of food with decent amounts of nutritional value a “SUPER POWER FOOD”. Also, the structure of this diet is oddly similar to the inferior "Bro Diet" of eating 5-7 small meals a day for muscle gainz in the gym but that's just an observation.
Coming in tied for #19, we have the popular “Vegan Diet”. All I want to say is that if you’re going to penalize a diet for being “too restrictive” but place a diet that purposely excludes EVERY FOOD GROUP THAT COMES FROM AN ANIMAL in the top half of your list, then there seems to be a disconnect with what can be classified as a “restrictive” diet.
The conclusion for this reasoning is quote:
- “Veganism can conform to a healthful eating plan, but it takes work, and the risk of insufficient amounts of key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, zinc and iron is real. That worried experts a bit, but they still gave the diet a respectable score.”
But if you read through some of the previous diets ranked lower, they were severely penalized for not including foods such as dairy, meat, etc. So, I guess because this is a “plant based” diet, it promotes eating lots of vegetables so it’s great, even though EVERY HEALTHY DIET SUPPORTS EATING A BOAT LOAD OF VEGETABLES, not just being a vegan.
Before this gets way to long and even more rant filled, lets jump to the top of the list. Coming in at #3 is the “Flexitarian Diet” and #1 is the “DASH Diet”.
Unless I’m missing something, these are practically identical diets. Being a “Flexitarian” means that you are a vegetarian BUT can be flexible and eat animal products too. The “DASH Diet’ promotes:
- “Nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber are crucial to fending off or fighting high blood pressure. You don't have to track each one, though. Just emphasize the foods you've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), while limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, and sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. Top it all off by cutting back on salt, and voila!”
Eating universally recognized foods we have always been told to eat while limiting equally universally recognized foods that aren’t good for our health long term is the main reason for being rated so highly?! OMG what a profound concept!
Two main points here, if you add up the “scorecard” of these 2, the Flexitarian Diet actually has a higher score than the DASH Diet. Also, the DASH diet has a picture of undercooked chicken as the first image on its page, but I’ll just continue sipping my tea over here and mind my business on that (Follow the link here to see what I mean: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/dash-diet )
If you have the time, and/or care, please, I encourage you to review the diet list here as well, and if you find something I didn’t see, let me know! There was so much to digest and read.
Some can say I’m not nearly as qualified as the “experts” who put this list together and am not here to single out any one diet or promote a bias other than eating nutrient dense, fiber filled whole foods, and lean protein is the type of diet EVERYONE can benefit from.
ALL DIETS require commitment and can be more expensive than not “dieting”. But what’s important is how you feel, and your results based off them.
Many diets work, and many diets are just disguised as other diets with a different name. To save yourself the confusion, keep it simple and practical for what your lifestyle can support.
Eat Happy and Love Always.