As you can imagine the real answer to this question is “it depends”. Anyone who gives you an answer without understanding your individual circumstances is not doing you full justice. This is why seeking personalised nutrition advice from a qualified nutritionist or knowledgeable trainer can be a great investment.
We all at times get caught up in hype and jump from one diet plan to another in hopes of finding an easier way to our goals. In some ways this is beneficial as self-experimentation is key to finding what works for you. However the lack of consistency can really mess with your progress and willpower.
Given the fact that we are all physiologically different and there is no one diet that works well for everyone, the best we can do is look at some points and variables that make or break any diet.
Regardless of your diet
a. Calories are King
Certain macro ratios and diets can make it easier to eat less calories, but no matter what, you cannot escape thermodynamics. (calories in, calories out).
b. Macro Your Goals
You will need to adjust your macros based on your goals. Eating low carb and trying to do a tonne of high intensity exercise will not work long term.
c. Food Choices Matter
Where possible choose real organic whole foods and avoid heavily processed options. Be aware of the modern influx of processed crap disguised as a health food. Undercover junk food exists in virtually any diet now.
d. Supplements Can be Necessary
If your diet is restrictive in nature, you may require additional supplementation to cover your basic micronutrient needs, do research to see any common deficiencies in your diet plan.
Key Diet Variables
1 - Digestion
IMO this is the most underrated variable to any diet, you are essentially what you eat and can digest. Paleo or Vegan, it doesn’t matter what science or other people say about the diet. If you cannot digest some of the primary foods in this diet, it is unlikely going to benefit you.
In the modern age where we have access to basically every food in the world, we have to accept that it’s basically guaranteed that there are foods out there in any diet that we do not digest well. A “superfood” to one person can be a digestion destroyer to another. It’s our jobs as health conscious people to maintain the self-awareness to think for ourselves and be able to cut out these foods.
Be wary of any diet that causes you digestive issues, it doesn’t matter if it worked for your friend or favourite celebrity.
There’s a tonne of ridiculous celebrity style diets out there and one thing they all have in common is a lack of sustainability. Your body takes time to adapt and settle to a lower body fat level and to be able to maintain your gainz, you need a diet plan that you can stick to for the long term. Crash dieting, nearly always results in a bigger rebound in weight gain. So before you think about any diet plan, realistically consider if it is something you can stick with for at least a year.
Be wary of any diet that promises huge weight loss in a short period of time.
A issue people can have on a new diet is that they feel great for the first few weeks or months, and then start to feel worse. This is often due to cutting out foods that have had a negative impact on their health such as sugar, trans fats or a food sensitivity like gluten. However over time micronutrient deficiencies start to appear due to eating the same limited foods over and over.
Eating limited foods for shorts periods of time can be viable (chicken and broccoli anyone?). However micronutrients are crucial to all functions of our bodies and there is evidence to suggest that eating the same foods, especially those higher in protein can also lead to sensitivities / intolerances developing. Whatever you believe, some variation in our diet can help avoid deficiencies and make our diets sustainable. Mix up your sources of carbs, fats, proteins and micronutrients.
Be wary of any highly restrictive diets that promote eating one type of food.
No matter what diet you choose to fit your current goals, keep the variables above in mind. Also note that what works for you and your goals now will likely need to change in the future.
Self-awareness is key and always go by how you feel and not only by what you hear or read from others.