Does one diet work for everyone? Is there one best way of eating? Is one diet better than all the others? The answer to all these questions is no. There are clear healthy eating habits everyone should follow. This includes avoiding processed foods, eating real/whole foods, avoiding sugar, and avoiding processed oils. The exact composition of a healthy diet can vary depending on one’s age, metabolism, and genetics. Most children are highly sensitive to insulin. This means they can eat carbs all day long and still remain thin. Furthermore, most children have a good metabolism. Unfortunately, as we get older things change. Most people, as they age, become less sensitive to insulin. This means that excess sugar is not burned by the body’s cells, but instead gets stored as fat. Insulin sensitivity varies from person to person. Some people can cut their carbs to 100grams a day and can lose weight and remain thin. Other people need to lower their carbs to under 25grams a day to lose weight. If you are on a low carb diet and not losing weight, you may need to cut your carb intake even more. Remember that everyone’s metabolism is different. Some people can eat a large amount of food and remain thin. Others are not as lucky. As we get older and lose muscle mass our metabolism slows down. We burn less calories at rest compared to when we were younger. A good way to naturally increase your metabolism is to increase muscle mass by lifting weights. More muscle mass leads to a higher metabolism and more calories burned at rest. The take home message is that everyone is different. Do not believe anyone who claims their diet is the best for everyone. What works for others, may not work for you. The key is to experiment and find what does work for you. Again, you can never go wrong avoiding processed food and sugar in your diet. A good rule of thumb that everyone can follow includes a diet of unprocessed, whole foods that your body recognizes as food. For most people, including a good amount of protein in every meal can help with weight loss. As noted above, cutting back on carbs is also important in losing weight. However, the exact amount will vary from person to person. Therefore, experiment a little with your diet if you are not having success. Keep a food diary if needed. Find what works specifically for you. One size does not fit all.
I hear people complain to me that they are quite confused about how to eat. They hear conflicting information. Is a low carbohydrate diet the healthiest? Or is a low fat diet the healthiest? Am I eating too much protein? First of all, there is no “diet” that works long term. None. Your goal should be a healthy lifestyle. What is a healthy lifestyle? The healthiest way to eat is a whole and unprocessed food lifestyle, avoiding sugar and processed foods. The biggest reason for our obesity epidemic is processed food. Processed food is loaded with sugar, simple carbs, and unhealthy oils. Foods that are loaded with sugar and simple carbs raise insulin levels, which cause weight gain and make weight loss very difficult. (See prior article on this topic.) Processed foods contain large amounts of processed vegetable oils, which raise inflammation levels. (See prior article on this topic.) They tend to have minimal nutrition. They tend to have little if any fiber, which helps in controlling insulin levels and promotes weight loss. Furthermore, processed foods tend to have minimal vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These micronutrients help to keep you healthy and avoid illness including cancer. The majority of the foods you eat should be in their whole, natural form. They should not have labels with ingredients that you cannot even pronounce. Eating whole, unprocessed foods will help you to lose weight and keep it off. The Mediterranean diet/lifestyle focuses on eating whole foods in their natural form. Research suggests this type of eating can be more beneficial in protecting your health than taking a statin medication. A whole foods, unprocessed lifestyle can lower your blood sugar, decrease your insulin levels, decrease your triglyceride levels, increase your LDL particle size, and lower your inflammation levels. So start changing you diet today. Clear out your pantry. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Avoid foods that are processed, they are not good for you. They will make you fat and promote illness. Eat whole, unprocessed foods for a healthier you!