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What Is The Best Diet?

Hall Training Systems

A question I get asked a lot from both my clients and people in general is...
..."What Is The Best Diet?"

This is a great question and soon to be an important one, given that obesity is rising at an alarming rate. Already around one-third of children and two-thirds of the adult population in England are overweight or obese [1]. If trend continues as predicted, [2] by 2050 only 1 in 10 adults will be considered a healthy weight. With so many diets out there, deciding which one is for you can be a somewhat confusing and puzzling task. Many of us end up jumping from one diet to another, based around the latest fad or media pushed dietary plan.

So what is the best diet?
Well the answer really isn't that complicated: the best diet is the diet that you can best adhere to!
I know of so many people comparing one diet to another - High carb to low carb, South Beach to The 5:2 Diet, low fat to high fat, The Ketogenic Diet to Carbohydrate Cycling, Paleo to Vegan, Flexible dieting vs. Rigid dieting; in the hope that they can find that 'magic' diet. Well I'm sorry but there is NO 'magic' diet. If there was, I'd be writing this from my private yacht, sat in the middle of the Pacific sipping on margaritas…
Having said that, it's not to say that one diet won't yield better results for you over another diet, it all depends on the diet that best suit you and fits into your lifestyle. For example, we all know that low carb diets over high fat diets can help people to lose weight [3][4]. We also know that high carb diets over low fat diets can help people to lose weight too [5][6]. However, there is also research to suggest that there is little difference in going low carb over low fat, or vice versa, across a longer period of time. After 12 months weight loss begins to level out with no significant difference in total weight loss between either diets [7]. This can also be supported by one study showing that weight loss was greater in people who ate a high protein diet irrespective of whether they went high fat, low carb, high carb, low fat. As long as they had a high enough amount of protein in their diet they would lose weight regardless [8].
So for someone like myself, who loves carbs, it would be silly of me to fall into this dogma that low carb diets are better than high carb diets, and try to stick to a diet low in carbs. Instead, a better approach would be to adapt a diet around my eating and lifestyle preferences.

Let’s take a look at my lifestyle for a quick moment:
I like to eat carbs, I train 4+ times per week, and I find I get hungry quickly. I tend to crave sugary foods over fatty foods and live a fairly stressful life. I'm also relatively social, meeting up with friends and family for dinner and lunches. So a higher carbohydrate diet based around a flexible eating approach will help me in the following ways:

1) Helps support food cravings

2) Aids in my training volume and recovery

3) Higher protein and carbohydrate diets tends to be higher in fibre and foods on the satiety index, leading to greater satiety and feelings of fullness

4) Carbohydrates can help to lower stress; increasing serotonin, making you feel happier and relaxed

5) Socialising often includes the odd drink as well as carbohydrates on the menu. My diet allows for the occasional drink and bowl of chips, giving me a degree of flexibility

This type of diet works better for me than a higher fat diet or a fasted/rigid diet approach. I enjoy it, it fits around my lifestyle, allowing me to adhere to it pretty much 90% of the time without freaking out over whether I eat the odd biscuit now and again. Choosing a diet can be difficult, and does require some trial and error as well as sitting down to analyse your current lifestyle and eating habits to see which diet you would best be suited to.

Here are my tips to help you begin setting up your ideal dietary plan:
1) Start with your personal preferences in mind first. Do whatever is easiest and most convenient - if you don't miss carbs then think about a lower carb diet. If you like counting calories start with that for now. If you don't enjoy drinking your calories and rather get them from food, then don't drink calories.

2) Modify your dietary guidelines based on your goals and lifestyle. If you're very active and an athlete you'll perform better on a higher carbohydrate diet. If you want to get leaner than consider cutting back on calories. If you do a lot of socialising think about a flexible dieting approach.

3) Take into account any medical or physiological reasons you may want from your diet. If you have hyperinsulinemia you may want to cut back on carbohydrates, particularly processed and refined carbs. If you have allergies or intolerances to certain foods such as dairy or gluten, you may want to cut these out.

4) Keep modifying your diet. Like with any exercise program, change is good. Constantly adjust your diet depending on your progress, goals, lifestyle change etc. Everyone gets bored with the same eating plan and food choices over time. Change is important when it comes to sticking with a diet.

5) Consume a higher amount of protein - whether you want to lose weight or increase it, a higher amount of protein in the diet has been proven to be a success factor in any dietary plan for both weight loss and increased muscle gain.

When it comes to a successful diet adherence is the magic behind its success. I'd rather someone adhere to their diet 90% of the time, 100% of the time, rather than someone adhering to a diet 100% of the time for only 50% of the time!
But remember, whatever diet you decide to do, be it for weight loss or weight gain, you must respect the law of thermodynamics - Calories in vs. calories out. Adherence is important when following a diet, but setting a calorie deficit is also vital if you want to lose weight. In fact, it's the over consumption and mis-reporting of calories that leads to the success or failure of a diet [9][10].

If you would like to more about dieting or which diet would best suit you! Why not check out our online nutrition package. A system designed to take the guess work out of dieting and healthy eating. Let us do the hard work so you don't have too.
To find out more about our nutritional coaching simply click here >> 

[1], 2009
[2] Government Office for Science, Foresight. Tackling Obesities: Future Choices, 2007
[3] Samaha FF, et al. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
[4] Yancy WS Jr, et al. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004.
[5] Slabber M et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,1994, Vol 60(1): pp. 48–53
[6] Ebbeling C. et al, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 2003, vol 157: pp.773-779
[7] Foster GD, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
[8] Soenen S, Bonomi AG, Lemmens SG, et al. Relatively high-protein or ‘low-carb’ energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance? Physiol Behav. 2012;107(3):374-80. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.08.004.
[9] Lichtman SW, Pisarska K, Berman ER, et al. Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. N Engl J Med. 1992;327(27):1893-8
[10] Weber JL, Reid PM, Greaves KA, et al. Validity of self-reported energy intake in lean and obese young women, using two nutrient databases, compared with total energy expenditure assessed by doubly labeled water. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001;55(11):940-50.

About Chris Hall
As the founder of Hall Training Systems, it is my mission to provide you with the very best personal training experience. I set up Hall Training Systems as Oxford's leading personal training service in nutrition, performance and weight loss, ensuring I can deliver the very best in training techniques.
You can find me on Facebook, Google+ or why not even give us a Tweet @Hall_Training

Posted on 26th August 2014, 18:00 PM by Chris HallReport this post
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