With countless diets to choose from, how do you know which ones work, and which ones are pure BS? Ask yourself these seven questions before embarking on a new diet:
Question #1: Is It Sustainable?
The very first thing you should ask yourself before making a big life adjustment (ie; new way of eating) is whether or not you can stick with it forever.
Yes. You read that right. I said ‘forever’. You see, long-term results do not come from quick fixes like crazy fad diets (and ridiculously intense workouts). Instead, they come from long-term positive lifestyle changes.
Obviously, a diet that’s too complicated, expensive, and/or restrictive would not help you make lasting lifestyle changes. Sure, they might help you see results fast, but the odds of not being able to sustain it are pretty high. Unfortunately, when that happens, people tend to end up in much worse shape than when they started.
The goal, then, is to find an eating plan that’s perfectly aligned with your specific goals and needs to make it easier to stick with it long term.
Question #2: Does It Cut Out Specific Macronutrients Completely?
Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not bad for you—neither are healthy fats. And while we’re on the subject, protein also is not the only macronutrient you need.
The key to getting fitter and healthier is getting the right mix of all these essential macronutrients for your specific goals and requirements. A marathon runner or basketball player, for instance, would need more carbs than, say, an office worker who sits at a desk for eight or more hours a day. That doesn’t mean that the latter can do away with carbs altogether.
So, if you ever come across a diet that requires you to cut out specific macronutrients for an indefinite amount of time, run in the opposite direction. Certainly, there is a case to be made for dramatically reducing a particular macronutrient but only for a specific period of time. I am not willing to demonize any one particular macronutrient all together. The same goes for those that ask you to remove specific food groups from your diet. Unless you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires you to avoid certain foods, there’s really no reason to do so.
Question #3: Is It Scientifically Sound?
One of the most straightforward ways to spot a BS diet is to check if it goes against basic scientific principles.
The science of weight loss is fairly simple: calories in versus calories out. As long as you consume fewer calories than your body burns, you will keep losing weight. Consume more, and you’ll gain weight. Here’s the missing key, what type of weight you are gaining or losing (ie adipose tissue or muscle tissue) has a lot to do with the types of foods you are eating. The quality of the food you eat matters because things like chips and fast food are designed to mess with your hormones and keep you coming back for more. The result? You not only utilize fat less efficiently but also constantly overeat.
So, what does all this mean?
If a diet does not care about portion sizes and the type of food you eat, then it’s obviously no good.
Question #4: Does It Support Your Lifestyle?
How many times per week do you work out? What type of training do you do? Does your work require you to sit all day or do you get to move a lot? Do you get hungry fast or can you go for several hours without eating?
These are just some of the questions you need to consider in deciding on a diet to follow. As you’ve seen earlier, someone who sits at a desk all day would have different caloric requirements than someone who works out regularly and does manual labor for their career. The former would not want to follow a meal plan designed for active individuals. The latter, on the other hand, would not be able to perform as well in the gym or in a competition if they ate the way a sedentary individual should.
Long story short, if the diet you’re looking at does not line up with your specific goals and needs, then it won’t get you the results you’re looking for.
Question #5: Is It Trying to Sell You Something?
Is the specific diet you’re considering trying to sell you things like books, supplements, or meal replacement snacks? Then it’s best to be more critical of it.
While not always the case, when there’s money to be made, it’s virtually impossible for the parties involved to be completely objective. There’s always the risk that getting you to buy would take precedence over getting you the results you’re looking for. After all, the longer you stay out of shape, the more money you’ll spend.
Question #6: Does It Have a Time Limit?
This one’s related to the very first question on our list. If the diet you’re looking at has a time limit, then the results you’ll get from it probably have a time limit too. This one is tricky though. I have seen people have long term results with this only if it is followed by a long-term plan.
Remember, long-term results require long-term lifestyle changes. Things like seven-day detoxes, 15-day diets, and 30-day challenges do nothing but get you quick results that vanish just as quickly as soon as things go back to normal. The only time something like this could be appropriate would be if done under the supervision of a medical professional and it was leading to a sustainable long term nutrition plan.
Question #7: Does It Make You Feel Good?
By ‘feel good’, I don’t mean happy. What I’m saying is that your diet shouldn’t leave you feeling lethargic, irritable, and unable to focus. Instead, it should make you feel energetic, centered, and ready to take on the world.
It’s important to note, though, that what works for someone may not necessarily work for you. Our bodies are different. Some of us, for instance, need more carbs to function than others. Some operate better on more fats and less carbs. Working with a nutrition coach can help here. They can help you discover what your body type is and what foods will help you operate at your best
Say Goodbye to Diets That Don’t Work
Ask yourself the seven questions I’ve shown you today, and I guarantee you’ll be able to spot the wrong diet from a mile away!