How all diets work

Eating is a juicy topic and this article is not intended to judge or undermine the way you eat. Rather it will provide the staging ground for future articles diving deeper into the most popular modern nutrition protocols.

Conversations around diet are usually complicated. Food brings us together, divides us, excites us, shames us, makes us sick, makes us strong, and so much more. Diet is a foundational component of our lives and we can be quite defensive of our way. It’s almost like we have tribes of foodies.

There are many popular modern nutrition types such as paleo, vegan, vegetarian, intermittent faster, or even ‘all food’ type. Have you ever been asked about how you eat? Some people can’t wait to answer this question. Others, like me, aren’t as interested in opening up to potentially awkward  follow up questions, judgement, or an unprovoked rant from the proud foodie we are chatting with.

Is there really one way to eat? Given our personality differences I believe that modern nutrition protocols give us excellent frameworks for testing to find a way to eat that empowers and lasts. I believe that the only guaranteed way to make lasting physical change is through personalization.

Personal nutrition is not a current diet but a consideration of many factors such as
- your past and present diets
- your ethnic origin
- current environment
- time of year
- location
- stress levels
- toxicity status
- lifestyle
- likes/dislikes
- personal preferences

While there are many methods out there, today I want to uncover the fundamental principles that every diet you’ve heard about must follow because of the underlying science.

1. Caloric balance.
All diets manipulate caloric balance. Caloric balance refers to the number of calories you take in compared to the number of calories you burn. This principle matters to your overall health and fitness, because it determines whether you maintain weight, gain weight or lose weight over time. It’s impossible to overwrite this fundamental scientific fact. If you desire to lose weight, you must eat less calories to ensure that the correct signals are sent. Every modern nutrition protocol is finding a way to influence caloric/energy balance so that you achieve the promised outcome.

2. Macronutrient quality.
Most modern protocols encourage you to take in whole single ingredient foods. This is a very good thing! It improves a person’s daily food choices. There are so many methods discussing which proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are good for you and the good news is that nearly all modern diet protocols encourage you to substitute high calorie low nutrient foods for low calorie high nutrient food. Low cal high nutrient foods cause many changes beyond the scale such as
- visual improvements
- feel better
- control caloric intake without counting calories
- stay fuller between meals

3. Love up the Micronutrients
If you’re eating whole single ingredient foods then you will automatically improve micronutrient intake. Vitamins and minerals may not sound sexy but consider that your well-being and performance are entirely dependant on plant foods either directly or indirectly when plants are consumed by animals. In my opinion, micronutrient research is the most exciting frontier in nutrition because there is so much we are still learning about how vitamins and minerals impact our cell function.  

4.Nutrient timing and frequency.
Current research is showing that nutrient timing may not be that important for people just trying to look and feel better. This article from my certifying organization shares a candid and in depth perspective on the clinical findings and over 30,000 real world client cases.

Supplements are last on the list and should be last in your mind. Supplements are a hot button topic and very big business. There are amazing marketing campaigns backed by sound science that are encouraging you to think supplements are the quick fix you’ve been dreaming about. The most important tip I can give is to draw your attention to the health pyramid image and encourage you to consider the size of the supplement block and its position as last on this list. In other words, there is a very small chance that a supplement will bring the result you want faster than good caloric balance via nutrient dense macronutrients.


health pyramid.png

I hope this adds clarity and a bit of calm to your fitness pursuits. These are the fundamental components to any diet! Success is a result of the manipulation of one or more than one of these 5 components: caloric balance, macronutrient quality, micronutrients, nutrient timing, and supplements. Any diet currently on the market is a method derived from an expert understanding of these scientific principles.

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