Theoretically you might be able to come up with an answer for this. You might be able to study your genes, and decide that carbs or caffeine or gluten or lactose are great or not so great ideas for you. Or you might be able to analyse the research and decide, for example, that the Mediterrean diet is great for health.
However, whatever answer you arrived at, I'd question.
Because - how do we define 'best'?!
Surely it depends on your goals?
And secondly, surely it just does not matter which is the 'best' diet if you cannot or do not want to consistently eat that way!
Individuals are uniquely and amazingly different, and there is not going to be one 'best' diet that suits everyone out there.
Not everyone responds the same way to digesting and absorbing particular foods. Although many of the basic biochemistry pathways are the same, the DNA we have, the nutritional excesses or deficiencies we've experienced (especially at crucial developmental stages), the bacteria and viruses we've been exposed to, our activity levels, stress, and trauma, sunlight and vitamin D, alcohol and other drugs, can all influence our genes, what proteins they produce, the number of mitochondria (energy factories in our cells) we have, and their efficiency.
It is SO complicated that in the young field of nutrition science, we haven't even begun to untangle all of this properly.
Let's not fall into the trap of playing victim to our genes though. Whilst we can undoubtedly recognize the role they play, it's important to know that no matter our history, we can still influence the way our genes are expressed and therefore our metabolism by the behaviours we engage in.
We have far more power to change things than we think.
The best 'diet' for you is this:
- the one that you can stick to, that allows you to apply the fundamental health and lifestyle habits consistently: movement, stress, sleep and nutrition.
- the one that uses outcome-based decision making, that allows you to gather real information about your real life, your experience, you body and what works and does not work for you.
So beware the meal plan, the diet rules, the 6-week programme that doesn't leave space for you as an individual. Beware the advice that is black-and-white or states that this is right and that is wrong. There is no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach.
Instead, as individuals, as coaches, and as an industry, we should be going more along the lines of:
'I don't know, let's find out together!'
What a phrase. With this answer, the connection, the journey and the growing starts. Maybe you came here for a definitive or prescriptive answer. But I think you got something more exciting than that.
The idea that you are already the expert in your own body.
The idea that there is no right or wrong, and you cannot fail at this.
There's no failure, only feedback.
We listen, we learn and we grow.
That's the best diet, no?
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