By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
If you perform a Google search on “top rated diets,” you will find a myriad of results that are written from a very diverse set of people that are both educated and uneducated. The results from your Google search can seem overwhelming and lead you to wonder, what is true and what is not scientifically accurate.
I recently had some students search the internet for some of these top- rated fad diets and what they found was interesting and at times, hysterically funny. I literally laughed out loud when I heard about a cookie diet! While that is a single example of a far-fetched diet, you will find that the internet is an interesting place full of interesting people claiming to have the best diet for you.
Which diet is best for me?
To establish which diet is best for you, first set aside the craziness and information overload then evaluate your lifestyle habits, time available to prepare cooked food, likes and dislikes of food choices and most importantly think about what lifestyle modifications you could do for the rest of your life in terms of your eating behavior.
Also, ask yourself if there are snacks you can eliminate or replace with healthier choices? Snacks, especially sugary snacks at night can halt any weight loss attempts since sugar consumed at night is almost always directly stored as fat.
What are the recommendations about diets?
To help you with accurate information, a current review of scientific literature has made some recommendations regarding fad diets and their effect on body composition. I liked the review because it was honest in saying there are many different diets that can have a different effect on different people.
This means that people respond differently to various diets and their body may or may not respond to some dietary modifications, for many reasons. It is nearly impossible to scientifically say which diet is best because so many people are different and they have a wide range of external factors that can influence diet and physical activity behavior.
Here are four firm recommendations made from the scientific literature
- Numerous types of diets can be effective for certain people. You need to establish and evaluate what would fit your lifestyle best and evaluate if you can maintain the diet for a long period of time.
- Severe caloric restriction may not be the healthiest even if you lose fat quickly. Often times this quick fat loss is regained after the severe caloric restriction because you can only starve yourself for so long.
- Higher protein diets. Even consuming protein amounts greater than the athlete recommendations, are healthy and can improve body composition.
- The long-term success of a diet depends on your adherence to eating the right foods and controlling external factors that negatively influence your diet and physical activity. Only you can decide if you can maintain a certain diet for long periods of time.
A diet is only effective if you are also physically active and exercise daily. Eat good food consistently and on rare occasions, treat yourself in moderation. Lastly, always avoid extreme behaviors as they often lead to failure.
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Aragon, AA, Schoenfeld BJ, Wildman R, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2017; 14:16.