It’s natural for people to want an easy button. Following the path of least resistance is a really intelligent way of approaching things. And there’s no exception when it comes to nutrition, weight loss and wellness.
It’s safe to say that if we were given two options
Option 1: Snap your fingers and have the body and life you love.
Option 2: Work hard to eat right, exercise and build discipline around difficult scenarios to have the body and life you love.
We would all choose option 1.
I’ve been working on the “snap your fingers” program but there are a few kinks in the model and unfortunately, for now, that’s not the reality of our situation.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past five and a half years working with tens of thousands of people, it’s that nutrition is complex. Not just because there are so many options out there with conflicting evidence, but also because it is so uniquely tied to our emotions, our memories and the way we feel about ourselves.
So if there’s so much information out there and no easy way to go about it, you might be thinking:
I want to make sure I am putting my time, attention and effort toward something that’s going to work for me. What is the best diet?
Let’s unpack this a little deeper.
At WAG, we often say things like, “The best diet is the one that you can follow even in the harshest of circumstances.” We’ve spent over half a decade trying to discover what that best diet is and have successfully helped thousands of individuals find it. Here’s what we’ve consistently found.
When putting any diet up against these standards, it’s bound to fall short to someone. For every person that absolutely loves the ketogenic diet, there’s going to be another that feels better suited to a higher carb approach. When you find someone that swears by a paleo approach, you’ll find another person that achieves better results with something more structured.
To make matters even more confusing, the best diet for you right now is unlikely to be the best diet for you forever.
You might start a job that requires shift work and leaves you with less time to cook. You might get pregnant and your needs must adjust with your growing baby. You might move to a new place and lose access to a lot of your usual foods. Something we have also seen often is that a diet that helped you lose the first 30 lbs may not work when trying to lose the last 10.
So what do we do?
I have good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad news.
In order to find the best diet for you it’s going to take time, experimentation and discipline. There’s no way around it—only for the rare human unicorn is this easy.
Through this process, we’ve found that individuals often discover skills they didn’t know they had, likes they thought were dislikes and are surprised by how much better they feel when they thought they felt great already.
The good news: Going through the process of discovering the diet that’s best for you builds self-awareness and a set of tools for your toolbox that you’ll never lose. This is a lot like riding a bike: Once you learn to ride a bike, you can pick it back up, even years later.
I mentioned earlier how we’ve found that the best diet for you now isn’t always the best diet for you forever. Gaining the ability to find what’s best for you right now is not something you will lose. You’ll be able to pick your “finding the best diet for me” skills back up whenever you need them.
Imagine in the future you or someone you know becomes sick. Your doctor suggests that a low carb approach would be the best for your health and recovery—this is your new “best diet” for the moment
If you have taken the time to experiment with your nutrition and build discipline around changing it, you’ll feel confident that you can implement the change and follow through. For those that have never built their “finding the best diet for me” skills, it will be much more difficult to make changes that they can sustain.
So, how do you go about finding the best diet for you right now?
In an attempt to provide some clear steps you can follow to figure out your best diet, I’m going to give a few options for ways to go about this. There are many ways you can begin the process of finding what’s best for you and below I will outline a few that can be very successful.
I was listening to the Brute Strength Podcast hosted by Michael Cazayoux and, on this episode, Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition was on the show talking about this concept, which really hit home for me.
Michael and John were talking about having a goal and realizing that there are 10, 20, 50 things you need to do in order to achieve that goal. Michael asked, “How do you know where to start?” and John went on to talk about this process he called “creating a tournament.”
He described listing out all the skills you need to develop in order to achieve a goal and writing them into a bracketed tournament that pits them against each other. Starting with the round robin, continuing with the quarterfinals, then the semifinals and finally ending with your champion.
It struck me that this could be done with diets as well. This is what it would look like.
On the left you have listed all the diets you can try and as you move closer and closer to the right you narrow the options down until there is a winner. You are pitting diets against each other and assessing their efficacy for you until one wins out.
How it works:
How it works:
When looking at these two diet styles and considering our “BEST DIET” standards we listed above, ask yourself: Which one do you think better suits your lifestyle and your preferences? There’s no right or wrong answer, but one does need to win because we need to know what next actions we can take.
Eventually you end up with a winner, which will remove a lot of the overwhelm and anxiety from having so many options to choose from. This doesn’t mean you have to stick with that diet forever—it’s simply a system to decide where to START.
If the ketogenic diet ends up being your winner, you can start there and truly commit to seeing if this is the right choice for you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Once you have made a commitment, the way to find out if it truly works is to give it time.
This is different than trying it for a week, struggling and giving up.
You may not be able to follow it extremely well when you’re just starting on your journey, so give it time to settle in, for your body to adapt and then make a decision to either stay the path or switch once you’ve given it a fair shot.
My suggestion would be to give any new approach 60 to 90 days—closer to 90 days if you have problems with adherence in the beginning.
Other diets you might want to put in your tournament:
How it works:
How it works:
You can follow the same process as above with a list of skills, habits and behaviors you believe might help you achieve your goals. Some examples might be:
All of these skills and behaviors can help you achieve your goals and also find a protocol that’s best for you; however, you can’t effectively implement all of them into your life at once. Pin these things against each other until you end up with a winner, or in this case, at the semifinals use the last two as your first step.
A coach that has had experience implementing many different nutrition protocols with different people can be a great sounding board and guide for you in discovering what’s best for you.
A coach is an objective third party that can assess your results without the same emotion that you will automatically have attached to it. They can also choose that next step for you to try instead of you needing to make that decision. You can save all that energy for the hardest part, which is taking action and following through.
At Working Against Gravity, we are dedicated to this work of finding what the best nutrition program is for you. We work with you one-on-one to track your data (weight, mood, energy, sleep, stress, hunger and overall wellness) and make sure that the changes we are implementing in your life are actually getting you the results you’re looking for.
As you can see already, finding the best diet is no simple task. So while I work on the finger-snapping technique that gets you results in an instant, I suggest getting right into the messy middle and taking action!
One thing that I know for certain is that action is what you need to get results.
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