What’s the Best Diet to Follow?

One of the most common nutrition questions I get is, “What’s the best diet to follow?” If you’re in the health and fitness industry, you’ve probably been asked this too. If you ever tried to go on a diet, you’ve probably asked this question yourself. It’s (almost) unbelievably common. When it comes to which diet is the best to follow, there’s only one answer.

best diet to follow

What’s the Best Diet to Follow?

The answer: there is no best diet. If you’re working with a trainer, nutritionist, or other health professional and they’re pushing a certain diet on you right off the bat, RUN – don’t walk – away. That may seem drastic, but there is no best diet to follow. If a diet works for one person, and even if they’ve seen hundreds of results with their method, it does not mean that diet will work for YOU.

Through this site and resources I’ve shared (and will continue to share), I want to help you find the approach to eating and nutrition that works best for YOU right now. It could be paleo, IIFYM, a traditional “eat clean” approach, or intuitive eating. Or, it could be a mix of these things!

Our bodies are able to adapt – progressive overload is an example of that! So, the best diet to follow is the one that matches your goals and physiology. It is one that includes foods you enjoy. It is one you can be consistent with. It’s realistic. It improves your health long-term.

How to Choose the Best Diet For You

In addition to the general tips above, when choosing the best diet for you, consider the following:

  • Your Body Type: Tall and thin, short and stocky, somewhere in the middle… bodies come in all shapes and sizes. (Get to know your body type!)
  • Your Dietary Preferences: Vegan? Lots of meat? Dairy-free or lactose intolerant? Celiac? We all have different dietary preferences, allergies, and shortlists of dos and don’ts.
  • Your Budget: Budget can make a big difference in terms of meal consistency and planning, organic vs. conventional, and more.
  • Your Nutritional Knowledge: Do you know the behind the scenes physiology of your nutrition? Some do and some don’t – either is perfectly okay to start!
  • Your Schedule: Some people have lots of free time, others do not. Some people can eat 6 small meals a day and others have time for just 3.

Step 1: Pay Attention

Pay attention to how your diet is working for and/or against you now. What gives you sustained energy? What causes crashes? What foods (think volume here) keep you feeling full? If you pay better attention to what you eat, you’re likely going to be more successful in losing fat, getting lean, and improving your health [1].

Step 1: Be attentive to what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.

Step 2: Focus on quality.

Very few diets encourage processed foods and/or drinks. Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, and “eat clean” diets all advocate for reducing the amount of processed food you eat. Focus on whole foods that are rich in nutrients. Fresh meats (not deli meats), fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy carb sources such as oats, sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, etc. Focus on quality foods and ingredients.

An added bonus of focusing on quality is that you’ll often counteract some (if not all) of your nutrient deficiencies. As you eat those whole, minimally processed foods, you’re going to be more likely to get the vitamins and minerals you need. You’ll also often end up eating less total food.

Step 3: Create new habits.

Instead of trying to change everything all at once, look to create new habits. This could mean drinking more water in the morning, or swapping your soda at lunch for sparkling water. Think about swaps you can make in your current diet that are beneficial now AND later. Start small and focus on creating the habits you want to have long-term.

If you like to have something sweet every night, swap the cookie for half a protein bar or some lightly sweetened popcorn. If you usually get lunch out of the office, try bringing in a lunch once or twice each week to start.

Step 4: Add in exercise.

Yes, abs are revealed in the kitchen. However, they’re built and sculpted at the gym. You need to add in exercise if you haven’t already. It’s the same as #3 – start small. Start by walking 10k steps per day. Gradually add in some weight training. Join a sports league. Fund something you enjoy doing that gets your heart rate up and your body moving.

There are many reasons exercise is a great idea – better heart health, a better night’s sleep, a better mood… the list goes on and on. One reason is that it can help you get to where you want to be while you follow a diet.

My Advice

Find what works for you. It’s that simple. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. It often takes some trial and error to find the best diet for YOU. Try paleo and see how it goes. Try six smalls per day and see how it goes. Then, try going meatless once or twice a week, or for one or two meals every few days. Try low carb or low fat. Try a diet free of refined sugars.

As you find what works for you, you may find you’re pulling from a few of those common diets. I eat almost entirely dairy-free (it’s saved my skin and my stomach). I also lean a bit towards paleo, but love Ezekiel bread and rolled oats. Even now, I am still experimenting with my own body gradually, and over time, to see what is best for me.

You’re probably still learning and trying things out. I am too. You’re not alone. Keep testing things until you find your best diet.

What’s the diet that works best for you?

The Best Diet to Follow Is...

  1. Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating
  2. NOTE: If you’re able to work with a Registered Dietician, that’s a great place to start – even if you can only get an initial consultation. Bring recent blood work and have a conversation about your struggles, goals, and current status.

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