….You’re probably wondering: How can such wildly different nutrition programs all lead to positive results?
My response: They’re not as different as you might think.
Most effective nutrition programs are more similar than different. (Yes, even Paleo and plant-based eating.)
This excerpt is from a PN article by John Berardi. I love the way that he explains how most common diets, when done right, actually are more similar than different. You can find the full article on the PN blog here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/best-diet
From the article
When done properly, Paleo diets, plant-based diets, high carb diets, low carb diets, eating small meals frequently, eating larger meals infrequently, etc. all accomplish the following:
1. THEY RAISE NUTRITION AWARENESS AND ATTENTION.
I know, everyone wants to talk about the food itself — the proteins, carbs, and fats. What to eat more of and what to avoid.
But research is now showing that simply paying better attention to what you eat is a key factor in whether you’ll lose fat, get lean, and improve your health.
Whether your attention is trained on avoiding carbs, eating more vegetables, seeking out organic / free-range food, avoiding animal foods, or avoiding “non Paleo” food, it’s all good.
Because what you focus on may not matter as much as simply caring more about what you’re eating in the first place.
2. THEY FOCUS ON FOOD QUALITY.
Paleo and low carb advocates want you to eat more natural, free-range animal-based foods that are higher in protein, higher in fat, and are minimally processed.
Vegan and high carb advocates want you to eat more natural, plant-based foods that are higher in fiber, antioxidants, and are minimally processed.
Recognize what’s common here?
Indeed, very few nutrition camps recommend you eat more processed, chemical-laden “junk” food. (Thank goodness.)
Instead, pretty much every camp recommends eating whole, minimally processed, nutrient-rich foods. And that may be one of the most important nutrition interventions of all, regardless of the protein, carb, and fat breakdowns.
3. THEY HELP ELIMINATE NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES.
In keeping with the last point, the best nutritional advocates help us shift away from highly processed foods, which are often low in nutrients because they’ve been stripped out during processing, and toward more whole, minimally processed foods, which often have their nutrients intact.
Thus, a properly designed diet of any kind eliminates some of the most commonnutrient deficiencies (water, certain vitamins and minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids).
This is huge. We often look, feel, and perform terribly when we’re deficient in important nutrients. But within a few weeks of correcting these deficiencies, we feel totally rejuvenated. (And because the transformation is so dramatic, that’s often when we become diet zealots.)
4. THEY HELP CONTROL APPETITE AND FOOD INTAKE.
When we’re more aware of what we’re eating, choose more satisfying, higher quality foods, and eliminate nutrient deficiencies, we almost always end up eating less total food. We feel more satisfied. We lose fat, gain lean muscle, and perform better.
Notice that you don’t need calorie counting here. Focusing on food awareness and food quality is usually enough for people to tune into their own hunger and appetite. And that means calorie control without the annoying calorie math.
It also means more sustainability since counting calories has a shelf-life. No one does it forever.
5. THEY PROMOTE REGULAR EXERCISE.
When people start paying attention to their eating, they usually start thinking about physical activity too. In fact, many of the diet camps recommend regular exercise. (Which is a good idea, since focusing on diet alone may actually interfere with establishing a consistent exercise routine.)
When a person exercises regularly, with a mix of high and low intensity activity, they dramatically improve their ability to turn the food they eat – whatever food that is – into functional tissue (instead of extra fat).
You can now understand how different well-designed dietary philosophies – even when they seem oppositional and antagonistic on the surface – can all promote good health, body composition, and longevity.
Which is why …
Choosing a single diet camp makes no sense.
1. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS ONE, UNIVERSAL “BEST” DIET.
There’s no one absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt best diet for everyone. Humans have evolved to do well under all sorts of dietary conditions.
That’s why I’m happy to help people find the best one for them, no matter their dietary preferences.
Of course, this is a big win for my clients: They get in shape doing more of the things they actually like. And a win for me: I get to help more people.
2. MOST POPULAR DIETS ACTUALLY HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.
Most popular diets — when done with care, attention, and a little coaching — help control appetite, improve food quality, promote exercise, and raise nutritional awareness.
3. COACHES SHOULD NEVER LOCK INTO A SINGLE PHILOSOPHY.
In the last 5 years alone, our team has helped 20,000 clients lose over 300,000 pounds of body fat and develop a new relationship with food.
And we’ve done that without forcing a specific diet philosophy on them. Vegans can stay vegan. Paleos can stay Paleo. And they’ve all had success.
Coaches: Don’t waste energy bullying people into a particular way of eating.
4. HABIT-BASED COACHING IS BETTER THAN DIET-BASED COACHING ANYWAY.
Long-term nutrition habits trump diet plans and “rules”. Always.
We prefer a nutritional progression model (which builds habits intelligently and sustainably over time) versus asking people to “follow a diet” (which means doing a full lifestyle overhaul on Day One).
For more on this particular approach, which I call “habit-based coaching”, check out this short article.