The One Diet to Rule Them All…
Which diet is best for you?
I have recently been reading a lot of ‘diet books’ and related blogs and looking at some of the most popular diet programs currently in vogue.
Within the space of just a few days:
- I read an excellent report on the benefits of ketogenic diets for type-2 diabetics and people suffering from neurodegenerative disease. The article was written by someone knowledgeable, intelligent, published and well-respected, and backed up by plenty of examples of people who have enjoyed success with ketogenic diets (personally, I know several who get great results!)
- Then, without looking for it, the very next day I happened across a well-reasoned argument against ketogenic diets, again written by a knowledgeable trainer with a long track record of client success stories. He warned of the dangers of low carb diets negatively affecting thyroid function, and he shared many anecdotal stories of female clients who have suffered hormone disruption through trying ketogenic diets. He also argued convincingly that ketogenic diets can cause some people to suffer sleep abnormalities, hormone problems, mood swings, anxiety and misery (life without carbs – not much fun!)
- Ummm, one blog full of reports of people going super low-carb and finally ditching that stubborn belly fat they wanted to get rid of. The other blog full of reports of people feeling tired, run-down, burnt out on ultra low-carb, who then ate more carbs and felt strong again and saw that stubborn belly fat finally melt away! Confusion much!
- Then I was reading a book about the benefits of intermittent fasting and the health benefits of fasting in general. Again a well-researched and well written book, lots of scientific references and plenty of anecdotal references too. Mental benefits, fat burning benefits, metabolic benefits, weight loss, improvements in blood sugar management, insulin sensitivity and more
- I had a look around online and found many blogs and groups proclaiming the benefits of intermittent fasting diets, full of weight-loss success stories…and I found a similar number of blogs and groups bemoaning that ‘intermittent fasting diets don’t work’ or that as soon as they returned to eating ‘normally’, these people regained any weight they had lost – “it’s just a fad” they proclaim
- I read a wonderful book a couple of weeks ago about some of the newest research into the effectiveness of Paleo diets and how many people enjoy weight loss results on a Paleo-style dietary regime. Then I read a series of very confusing blogs, and it became clear to me just how muddled the Paleo message has become, which is kinda sad. Some people seem to interpret Paleo as meaning ‘fairly low carb’, and some seem to think it means LCHF (low carb, high fat) and some seem to eat lots of carbs. Some think ketogenic diets are an extension of Paleo, while others look at hunter-gatherer tribes eating high carb diets (many roots and tubers) and argue that Paleo is actually pretty high carb
- Oh the glorious confusion! I found stories of folks getting weight loss results and improved health from all variants of this Paleo interpretation! These people were all following variations of what they believe to me a Paleo diet, some very low in carbs, some really quite high in carbs, and all achieving weight loss results or health improvements. Then I searched around and found opposing legions of people complaining Paleo is too hard, Paleo is too restrictive, Paleo doesn’t work and they failed to lose weight on a Paleo diet!
Now let’s just see –
- Intermittent fasting – some people lost weight, some didn’t!
- Ketogenic diets – work for some people, not for others!
- Paleo diets – some people get results, some people don’t!
- Low-carb, high fat – works for some, not for others!
Well whaddya know, it’s the same old story with diets that we have seen for decades – works for some, not for others. Just maybe, it’s NOT the diet, maybe it’s the people!
The truth is, WE are ALL different. 100,000 people could go buy ‘a diet book’ and 50,000 might find it works and 50,000 might find it doesn’t, but that’s because the people are all different and no single diet works for everyone!
- Some people thrive on carbs, some don’t
- Some people are highly active, some are not
- Some people thrive on a high fat diet, some don’t. Some people have genetic variations that help them metabolise certain types of carbs, or certain types of fats, but others don’t have those variations
- Some people have gut bacteria that suits digesting certain carbs or certain fats, others have a different bacterial make up in their digestive system
- Some people’s genotype or phenotype suits a certain diet, some people suit another
- Some people are stressed to the hilt, others live a relaxing life (stress hormones play a big role in your health)
- Some people are forced to exist in so-called ‘obesogenic environments’ while others live and work in more natural environments
All these factors determine how your genes, your gut, your blood, your metabolism, your muscle mass, your endocrine system, your sleep patterns and your lifestyle will interact with your diet. It’s no wonder ‘one size diet does not fit all’ when you realise how very different we all are.
Simple broad guidelines
And that’s why so I often I say that the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet are guidelines, sign posts to help you navigate your way to find the perfect diet for you. The 12 Core Principles were put together from a combination of my own personal 27 year journey to find good health, the 840+ books, research papers and studies I have read, the numerous courses, conferences and seminars I have attended, years of dietary trial and error (more years of error than I care to remember!), my education as a personal trainer, my 46 years of life experience as a man, worker, parent, husband and amateur athlete, and a big old dose of common sense.
The end result is, I believe, the best all-round health advice I can offer to a nation wallowing in obesity and non-communicable degenerative disease, distilled into 12 simple one-liners, in the plainest English possible. But they are not a one-size-fits-all prescription. That just is not possible. Each person needs to try those Core Principles out, and find the ones that work for you as an individual.
For one person, the ‘cut the grains and starches’ advice of Core Principle 1 may be perfect, but another person may do better keeping a few starchy potatoes in their diet for extra energy. Another person may be entirely gluten-tolerant and thrive with a little artisan bread as their weekend treat. For one person the ‘no alcohol’ advice of Core Principle 4 may be the best health advice they ever received (that would be me then!) but for another person, the stress-relieving benefits of a glass of two of red wine once or twice per week may make for a healthier life balance in the long term. One person may interpret Core Principle 12, the 90/10 Rule, as 75/25, and another person may thrive on 95/05 – maybe it all comes down to age, genetics or lifestyle pressure!
We each have to find the perfect diet for us – I offer the 12 Core Principles as a framework, broad general guidelines, purposefully open and non-prescriptive, to help you find your perfect diet and nail the details for yourself.
So, go on then, get cracking.
To your good health!