Did you hear all the recent hype? All the bashing of paleo, all the dashing for DASH diet? Ugh! Things like these make my blood boil. OF COURSE, you will get healthier if you stop eating sodium-heavy foods on DASH (read: the crap straight from the box with a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce). Of course, the Mediterranean diet is great (have you seen what Spanish, Italian, or Greek women eat for breakfast? They take a tiny piece of toast and DIP it in a cup of extra virgin olive oil, alongside with their eggs, meats, and veggies). I am trying to be quite politically correct here without bashing the fact that the majority all of these diets include grains. After all, not everyone can commit to a grain-free living. So what is the best diet? How to choose the best diet plan that will work for you?
The best diet plans: why choose Primal?
Alright. This is going to be a tough one. Since The Primal Force already has the word “primal” in it, I am pretty subjective. I am also trying to stay open-minded as a nutrition coach and educator when it comes to suggesting the best diet for my students. It is not always easy because I am literally a walking billboard for them! I preach what I teach. I try to stick to common sense, facts, recent research, results I see in my students AND still stay flexible enough to understand other “best diets”. Things I personally tried and recommend to my students include primal, paleo, keto, low-carb, and slow carb diets.
The best diet plans: my picks
As a nutrition coach, I found them “the best” because of the following:
1) They don’t feel like a “diet” if you have the right mindset and enjoy the results;
2) They may start as a “diet” or “restriction” for someone, but if they work and results are amazing, they are often life-changing. They are quite enjoyable for many, too;
3) They have scientific evidence and thousands of people whose lives changed after implementing them;
4) They have numbers behind them such as weight loss, lowered blood pressure, better sleep, better LDL results, improved digestion, clearer skin, etc.;
5) They involve what we were meant to eat for the most part: meat, vegetables, berries and fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats;
6) Ultimately they exclude sugar, SAD (Standard American Diet) foods, and poisonous things.
Are YOU the best for your best diet plan of action?
The aforementioned lifestyles work for 70 to 80 percent of people. Here are some factors that are involved in success stories:
- Determination (how ready the person was for a change)
- Personality (more ambitious people do better, but not to worry – you just need to want a change!)
- Education (more successful results when a person was interested in learning how’s and why’s)
- Genetics (yes, it takes time to change your genes thus most patient patients have better results over time)
These nutrition plans (I cringe at the word “diet” every time, I am about to stop using it for good) STILL have their drawbacks along with amazing results. For example, lately, paleo enthusiasts started to include lots and lots of carbohydrates in their daily treats trying to mimic foods from the past they are missing. It results in overstuffing our glycogen stores and storing those extra carbs as fat. Yikes.
Primal lifestyle can be hard for people unless they change their mindset and do some research. Yes, it is restrictive (or appears that way) but the basics of it are straightforward and very enjoyable. It is logical, and easy to adapt to. In addition, you are probably following it half way already if you eat veggies, meats, nuts, seeds, berries, and healthy oils.
Keto (as well as low-carb Atkins) permits to eat some crappy chemicals but focuses on weight loss results and mind clarity. Some people’s bodies do not respond well to chemicals, preservatives, and other foreign substances. Or super low carb diet as a matter of fact. So healthy eating in that respect turns into a challenge, and often not a fun one.
Slow carb is definitely not for everyone! No matter how much I love Tim Ferriss and his theories, I tried it and it makes me blow up! I am definitely going to try it again to see if it was just circumstantial, but having a cheat day each week did not do me any good. I do love the concept, though. It is freeing.
The popularity of faux-diets plans
High carb diet, intuitive eating, IIFYM (If It Fit Your Macros) and don’t even get me started on Weight Watchers. I absolutely respect and love the fact they helped millions of people to get healthier, and I truly believe that they are not sustainable. 300 calories from cake is not the same as 300 calories from broccoli. These diets are short-term oriented. And while I agree that Paleo, primal, and such are restrictive, they provide long-term results and sustainable solutions. I also always get a feeling of deception. When something (like a nutrition plan) accommodates my needs so much – and for example, all I need is bagels and Fritos – it just feels wrong. It is also convenient for the government or providing organizations (more sales, more profits, more drugs sold afterward). What do you think?
The problem with popular “best diet plans”:
- Grains and sugar cause inflammation. Your WW points won’t matter if you get sick often;
- High carb plans move us to fat-saving zone (glycogen stores overflow, and if you are not Michael Phelps, whatever did not fit the glycogen stores, goes to fat);
- Poisonous substances in grains (lectin, gluten) and heavily processed oils (canola, soybean) are part of the popular diets. Unfortunately, these poisonous agents lead to inflammation, digestive problems, hormonal issues, and immune system deficiencies.
Are you about to scream at the top of your lungs? Hang on.
How to choose the best diet plan (or What eating healthy means for YOU?)
I will try to narrow it down to a few factors you may want to consider when it comes to choosing the best option from the bazillion of diets and nutrition plans out there. (Do I need to mention that cabbage soup and grapefruit + egg aren’t in my consideration?;). Look at the factors below as a testing mechanism. Write down the answers, and see what approach suits you the most.
1. Your current health state and goals.
First, what are you trying to achieve by choosing to eat healthfully? Are you in for the long haul, or you want some quick fix? Remember, any nutrition plan eliminating poisonous things (sugar, grains, chemicals) will bring you long, sustainable results. Do you have any problems with blood pressure, blood sugar? Are you insulin resistant? Are you diabetic? Do you have an autoimmune disease? Hormonal issues? Any other conditions?
2. Weight management.
Secondly, weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain can be achieved both easily and with lots of frustrations. The ratios of macronutrients you are going to be getting are essential. You can’t lose weight and build muscle at the same time easily. Prioritize your weight goals, and see if you want them temporarily or for good. It is an important factor!
3. What is your personality like?
Also, are you an all-or-nothing type of gal, or you take one day at a time? Can you do Whole30 and then not go nuts on all the foods you eliminated? How much love and self-care do you provide yourself on a daily basis? How strong is your willpower? What is your self-talk like? All of these need to be considered.
4. Are you willing to learn?
Many people despise paleo and primal for restrictions, instead of looking into data and research. Learning from blogs and books what defines bad cholesterol (eating egg yolks won’t harm you, pal). Educating yourself on the damage from industrial oils and heavily processed foods. Learning how to cook. How to enjoy your meals with your favorite ingredients in them. Learning how to build those wonderful habits that are contagious, and how your life can become an example of not only healthy eating, but healthy living and fulfillment. I know all of this is SUPER overwhelming. But if you build a house, you need so many things for a great, strong, supportive basement. That will define a half of your success. Same with nutrition and the best diet for you.
5. Find your match!
Hate breakfast? Try intermittent fasting or Bulletproof diet. Those are wonderful complementary ways of living and they bring fantastic results. Can’t do a low carb? Go primal if you are active (rice, quinoa will do!). Can’t do primal? Pick something less harmful than SAD and go with it. See what I mean? It has to be enjoyable, and the best diet needs to suit you as much you fit the approach, too. As a result, you want to aim for doing great with YOUR best diet plan 80-90% of the time.
Here are 3 things for you to do to choose the best diet plan:
1. Sit down and have a nice pep-talk with yourself. Identify 2-3 nutrition plans (or “Best diets”) that might work for you. Identify your goals, your personality traits, and the current state of your health and fitness.
2. Do some research. Snoop around this website, get on forums, get inspired. Go to Marks Daily Apple and see how many people had their lives changed.
3. Give it a try. Choose your best plan and stick to it for 60-90 days. See how you feel.
Yes, I am biased. I love how primal lifestyle changed my life, my husbands’ life, my family members’ health. But I try to keep my mind open to many things – after all, there is NO one-size-fits-it-all best diet. I experiment, and willing to expand my primal force beyond just primal dogma – but hey, it will take you a while to convince me that carbs are great for me, and sugar is healthy 😉
Cheers to your health!
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.