How to Choose the Best Diet for You

About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

How do you choose the best diet for you?
How do you choose the best diet for you? | Source

5 Best Diet Tips to Consider

Everywhere you turn, diet is talked about in some form or fashion. Television commercials can't go one round without advertising a weight loss diet, nor can you drive down the highway without passing a billboard with a beautiful trim model proposing a certain food product. Go to the bookstore and your mind will spin with all the diet books available. Even worse is how the internet is plagued with diet material. There is low calorie, low fat, low carb, Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Wheat Belly, and so many more! How do you choose the best diet for you with all the confusion? Obviously, they all can't be right on what they propose. Can they?

Unfortunately, the word "diet" has even gotten a bad rap. You may hear those in the health and fitness realm say that they "don't do diets." What do they mean? Are diets bad? What are your personal beliefs about diets? Before we go further into dieting tips, let's first examine the word. Following are definitions from a few different dictionaries:

"food and drink regularly provided or consumed" or "habitual nourishment" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

"The usual food and drink of a person or animal." (The Free Dictionary)

"The customary amount and kind of food and drink taken by a person from day to day; more narrowly, a diet planned to meet specific requirements of the individual." (The Medical Dictionary)

Did your ideas about diet line up with the true sense of the word? If you take a look closer, you'll see that diet is how you eat on a regular basis. Therefore, we could say that a person has a "good" or "bad" diet depending on how he or she eats. Obviously, you're looking to find the "best" diet to choose by reading this hub. So, let's review the five best diet tips to consider when choosing the diet that is right for you.

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One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan
One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan | Source

1) Optimum Nutrition is a Must

Did you know that most developed countries are overfed yet undernourished? That's right! In fact, some societies in developed countries like the United States are 90 percent nutrient deficient. With an overweight and obese society, you might think that most people are over-nourished. However, the allowance of pre-packaged, processed, and refined foods (aka "fast foods") lack nutrients and are satiated with chemical additives. Therefore, they provide the body with "empty" calories, meaning they lack the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that the body needs to thrive optimally. These junk foods lack nutrients due to the way they are manufactured and processed (i.e., heated, cooked, and preserved). Even many fruits and vegetables lack nutrients because they are harvested much earlier and ripened in cold storage. From the time they are harvested, they cease in the absorption of nutrients from the soil, water, and sun.

How does your body respond to nutrient famine? It responds with cravings that lead to overeating, and usually binging occurs with more empty calories. That is, foods lacking in nutrients. Cravings occur because your body and brain are trying to tell you it's hungry. Though it may receive enough or too many calories, it's hungry for vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. If you've been consuming a modern diet for a long time, you may also be undernourished and have cravings. Do you crave sweets such as milk chocolate or sugar cookies? Or, do you crave salty snacks like potato chips? When your diet is mostly filled with non-nutritious foods, your appetite is stimulated but usually for more unhealthy options. However, your brain teaches you how to decipher which foods are most appropriate in curbing those cravings if the majority of your diet is filled with nutritious foods.

A diet lacking in good nutrition may acquire diseases and disorders caused directly or indirectly by undernourishment. These may include heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, mental illness, and many other inflammatory ailments. A diet lacking in nutrients may also cause small aches and pains in your joints, poor eyesight, and even acne. This is why choosing good foods is important. They will offer you a life filled with energy and good health. Optimum nutrition can be incorporated into your diet such as quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, limited whole grains and legumes, and essential fats.

Optimum nutrition keeps cravings away!
Optimum nutrition keeps cravings away! | Source

Foods to Include in a Healthy Balanced Diet

  • Proteins: lean beef, chicken, turkey, wild game, fish, seafood, egg whites, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, tofu, and tempeh.
  • Carbohydrates: vegetables (green and colorful), fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Vegetables should be your number one priority from this macronutrient with fruit second. Limit whole grains and legumes as they contain much lesser nutrients when compared to vegetables and fruits. Too many whole grains can also make you gain body fat as they are high in calories and turn to sugar if not burned through physical activity.
  • Fats: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocados, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and natural almond or peanut butter.

A healthy balanced diet includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
A healthy balanced diet includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats. | Source

2) Make Sure It is a Healthy Balanced Diet

Optimum nutrition should also be incorporated with a healthy balanced diet. This is where many diets advertised on television, radio, billboards, books, magazines, and the internet lack. Unfortunately, many diets are a "one size fits all diet." Most diets on the market are weight loss diets, and there are many to be had. After all, most developed countries are overweight and obese due to convenient fast foods. If you're looking for a weight loss diet, be careful in choosing. You will most likely lose weight on any diet offered. However, most are not healthy diets. Some are extremely low calorie diets, which can be dangerous. Many will even direct you to prohibit a certain macronutrient for fast weight loss. Who doesn't want to get to their slimmest body in the quickest way possible, especially before a special event like a wedding or class reunion? But, there are healthy options available where you don't have to give up on good nutrition principles by throwing out balance.

A nutritionally balanced diet will:

  • prevent cravings for unhealthy foods.
  • prevent weight gain.
  • support fat loss.
  • provide you with optimum nutrition.

Your body needs two types of nutrients:

  1. macronutrients - those needed in large amounts.
  2. micronutrients - those needed in small amounts.

You may be familiar with macronutrients in terms of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

Macronutrients must be eaten in balance. It is very important to get all four of them in the right amounts. Most likely, you're not a nutritionist or registered dietician, so you may be wondering how complicated this is. It's really not that complicated. If you're including all natural and/or organic foods in your diet plan, there is no need to count calories or macronutrients. Just make sure you get the foods listed to your right in every meal and snack, and you'll have a healthy balanced diet which will also include the appropriate amounts of micronutrients.

Did you know that eating optimally nutritious foods can burn 50 percent more calories than pre-packaged, processed, and refined foods? Give up your empty calories and incorporate "living" foods. It will do your body good!

3) Healthy Calorie Intake is Important

Most Americans consume far more calories than needed. This has unfortunately caused the overweight and obesity epidemic in developed countries, especially the United States. However, many who want to lose weight tend to opt for weight loss diets that are extremely low calorie. This can be just as dangerous as overeating as it will lower thyroid function and cause metabolism decline. You may have even seen dieters initially lose weight and then regain but with more body fat than what they started with prior to going on a weight loss diet. Be careful!

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories required just to maintain your body. That's right! You require a certain amount of calories just to function or be alive. If you don't receive enough to just function, your body will decline rapidly and it may be difficult to regain your health. However, you wouldn't need just your BMR calories. You must account other factors to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This will include:

  • age
  • gender
  • weight
  • height
  • activity level

The two factors that determine the most amount of calories include your weight and activity level. To lose weight, a calorie deficit will need to be considered. To gain weight, you will need excess calories. Any diet that is not a maintenance diet will be slightly unbalanced in energy intake and output, but you still want to eat an optimally nutritious diet.

For weight loss diets, avoid metabolism decline by instituting a 250 to 500 calorie deficit daily. More energy can be expended through activity such as exercise (i.e., walking, weight lifting, kickboxing, Zumba, power yoga, etc.). Some people can take their calorie deficit higher, even to 1,000. However, that should only be short term. A high calorie deficit like this should be no more than 8 to 12 weeks without another 8 to 12 weeks with a lower calorie deficit. You will avoid weight plateaus, thyroid dysfunction, and metabolism decline by choosing a diet that is reasonable with calorie intake.

Make healthy eating habits a part of your lifestyle.
Make healthy eating habits a part of your lifestyle. | Source

4) Healthy Eating Habits Should Be a Goal

When choosing the best diet for you, consider one that will teach you healthy eating habits. Fad diets, or temporary diets, may help you if you are trying to lose weight. However, they are "short-run" diets. Instead, opt for a diet that will help you live a healthy lifestyle. By living healthy all the time, your body will thank you as it deals with less aches and pains. Moreover, you may also avoid the diseases and disorders we discussed earlier. Besides, who wants to yo-yo on weight loss diets forever?

That brings up another topic when it comes to healthy habits. Just because you incorporate healthy menu plans into your daily living doesn't mean that you can't treat yourself with some of the old foods you considered unhealthy. Stick to an 80/20 plan (90/10 if you need to lose weight). An 80/20 plan allows 20 percent of treats while eating an optimally nutritious and balanced diet 80 percent of the time. Though you may find healthier recipes for certain treats, you can still include your favorites such as pizza, spaghetti, and chocolate chip cookies. Studies have shown that feeling deprived of anything can take you for a tailspin. Treats in moderation will take the deprivation edge off so that you can live a healthy lifestyle with ease.

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5) Fitness Goals Should Be Considered

Any diet should include your fitness goals. Not a fitness buff? That's okay. All the more reason for you to choose a diet that includes fitness goals! Remember how we discussed healthy calorie intake earlier? Any diet should take this into consideration whether you live a pretty sedentary lifestyle or whether you are a gym rat. Also, choose a diet that provides for your needs. Are you looking to lose weight? Or, are you trying to gain? Maybe you're trying to maintain or build muscle. Whatever your goals, your diet should cater to your needs to meet those.

Conclusion

To put it simply, your best diet is one that provides you with energy and vitality and wards off disease. Choose one that is nutritious and balanced. Also, opt for one that will help you build healthy eating habits while considering your fitness goals. Choose the best diet for you by sticking to these five diet tips and you can't go wrong.

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Helping those who desire it!
Helping those who desire it! | Source

About the author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.

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Comments 8 comments

rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

Great article with valuable information! Your comment on developed countries being overfed but undernourished is quite accurate. It is not only in North America where the problem exists. If you travel abroad you can see the infiltration of fast food outlets everywhere. The chains modify their foods slightly to reflect the various cultures but it is still junk food. For example, in Paris if you go by the McDonalds or the KFC, there is a continuos stream of customers. (Voted up)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you for your comment, rose-the-planner. I haven't been to Paris, but I have heard the same thing from friends who live overseas in various countries, including Australia and South Korea, about the overweight and obese problems. Somehow, some way, we need to get our countries back on track. I appreciate you!


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

It is amazing that even though the people from developed countries often consume more calories, they consume less nutrients. It's sad.

Fortunately, I am not much of a fast-food junkie, and I like to pack my own lunches to bring to work. Restaurants are a treat to be savored, and I'm usually good with eating balanced meals. There's always room for improvement, though.

Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up!


JamiJay profile image

JamiJay 3 years ago from Somewhere amongst the trees in Vermont.

Great hub Abby! Very valuable and useful information here. I agree with you as well (and try my very best to eat a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet, but a very tight budget sometimes has its limitations, that is why I tend to eat oatmeal like a fiend). I find it very interesting that in the United States where we have unlimited amount of options presented to us, that the majority tends to lean toward unhealthy and convenient foods instead of sustainable and nutritious foods that take a little more time and love to prepare and cook. I also find it incredibly interesting that even when our obesity rates are rising that people that are obese or nutrient deficient, doesn't seem right. Thanks for offering all of your insights!


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Kathryn, there's always room for improvement for ALL of us. It's difficult to be perfect 100 percent of the time. Besides, not all foods are 100 percent even if they are healthy type foods. I'm glad that you eat healthy and balanced meals. Keep it up! You won't regret it. ;)


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thanks for replying, JamiJay. Oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are my favs when it comes to starchy carbs. Check out your local farmers or farmers market as you may be surprised how inexpensive local produce cost. Here's a website where you may find CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area. You can get baskets/boxes full of fresh produce every 2 weeks for a minimal price. http://www.localharvest.org/


btrbell profile image

btrbell 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Perfect timing with this one. My procrastination has gone on long enough! My son and I have started (today) a gluten free diet. We are doing it because we think he is gluten intolerant, possibly has celiac and I am joining him because I think most of us are at least gluten sensitive. I'll keep you posted! Thanks for the great ideas! up++


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Glad I could help, Randi. A very high percentage of Americans are gluten-intolerant or have Celiac's today. Sixty years ago, it was a fraction of a percent. What made the difference? Genetically modified organisms (GMO) unfortunately. It's sad that we have to alter our natural grains just to try to make a few extra pennies. It's wreaking havoc on our health now. I'm glad you're going gluten-free. Your son will feel so much better, and so will you! :-)

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