It’s probably safe to assume most people have been on some type of diet at some point in their lives. There have been so many fad diets since the beginning of human existence. And as time has multiplied, and more, advanced scientific research has been done, we are now more equipped than ever with facts, case studies and healthcare experts.
The reality is, the healthiest diet on the planet is one that works for you, your body type, your genetics, your goals and is something you can adhere to as a lifestyle. Even fasting has made its way into the mainstream with scientific evidence of health benefits. But nowadays there is almost an overwhelming amount of research, options and resources for helping you decide what’s best for YOU.
Different For Everyone
Let’s say you have a very active lifestyle, or on the contrary, you are sedentary much of the time. The same diet won’t be beneficial for these two types of individuals. Just as those who are trying to gain lean body mass aren’t the same people who are trying to lose body fat and increase mobility. The human body is more masterful than we give it credit for. Your body knows exactly what you’re feeding it, what to burn, what to store and what to activate.
The first step in choosing the healthiest diet for your body is understanding nutrition. This could mean being more aware of your macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbs) as you need to consume larger quantities to keep your body functioning properly. It’s also beneficial to be mindful of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) as these play a significant role in optimizing your overall health. Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and more. While minerals play a significant role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and other processes.
Diets Can Be Harmful
If you have ever yo-yo dieted, you’ve probably experienced the direct correlation of changes to your nutrition and how your body performs or reacts as a result. Which is why traditional “dieting” can cause more harm than good. You truly have to commit to a specific selection of food on a consistent basis so your body doesn’t feel tricked, which can lead to resistance in achieving your goals.
There are, however, many “diets” that have become popular over the years that can improve your quality of life, make you live longer and keep a healthy body fat percentage. Here are some of the most popular diets that many people claim are the “healthiest diet on the planet.”
- The Mediterranean Diet
This has been claimed the world’s healthiest diet many times over by people across the globe. The Mediterranean Diet consists of an abundance in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It also includes fish and protein as main sources of protein over red meat. It is named after the oldest population in the world, those who live in the Mediterranean region as these residents prove, time after time, they live the longest and they attribute that to their diet.
- The Paleo Diet
This has been touted as an ancestral diet as it has supposedly been passed down from prehistoric times. It has been proven to be effective for general weight loss and overall health improvement. This diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged approximately 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains.
- The Vegan Diet
This diet is based exclusively on plant-based foods and has been linked to a variety of health benefits such as weight loss, improved heart health and better blood sugar control. Many people select this diet not only for the health benefits, but also because it is animal cruelty-free. That’s right, zero animal products. Everything here grows from mother nature.
- The Gluten-Free Diet
This diet initially began as an option for those who were discovering an allergy to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). However, the diet gained momentum quickly when the mainstream learned that by cutting gluten, you can drop significant weight. There has been some controversy though, as not all gluten-free foods are healthy, so it’s always a good idea to make sure you are eating whole foods that are naturally gluten free as opposed to junk foods that are gluten-free.
- Low-Carb, Whole Food Diet
Many people are adopting this diet/lifestyle as it can help with dramatic weight loss, optimize health and lower risks for diseases. Primarily, it focuses on vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, nuts, and fats but is low in starches, sugars and processed foods. One of the greatest attributes of this diet is that it’s scalable depending on how many carbs you want to consume to control your weight.
As with the majority of health, fitness and dieting matters, it’s a great idea to consult with a doctor or dietician before making any drastic changes. Professionals can assess a variety of different factors and guide you in making the best food choices for your body. It also helps to understand the science behind how some of these diets work, as it may keep you more committed to staying on track.
There are specific foods that increase your metabolism and hormones and certain foods that can have negative effects by increasing inflammation, cortisol and others.
And while improving your diet can greatly improve the quality of your life, it’s also recommended to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, according to the CDC. Plus, when you incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, you’ll feel better, have more energy and experience greater sleep quality.
All in all, remember that a “diet” is more than just a short-term fix, it’s a lifestyle change that requires consistency. If you set yourself up for failure by selecting a new way of eating that you aren’t happy about, you’ll be less inclined to stick to it. A great way to start this new journey is to keep a food diary for at least one week and write down everything you are consuming. That way, when you seek expert advice, they can get a better analysis of your food habits while consulting with you about your goals, challenges or health issues that need to be addressed.